Breathing-Taking & Heart-Warming- Diwali 2013 in Goa, India- Family Travel World-Schooling Delights
My heart singith. Last week began Diwali and it’s been unreal beautiful. And as Jason Mraz sings to me Living in the Moment, I bask in the loving energy of our landlords, their endless gifts to us, and the joy of being in Goa, India and knowing that this is home. Sigh. Deep, deep sigh.
Allow me tell you about the stunning little Hindu holiday called Diwali!
The kids learned in the Vidya Arayna School that Diwali (pronounced: Di-Va-Li) was a princess who chose to renounce her kingdom-hood to escape into the forest with her prince. He was shunned away so that someone else’s plot for kinghood could bear fruit. She told him that she’d rather live a simple life with him in the forest than a fancy one without him in the palace. One day a demon saw Diwali and decided he wanted her. He turned himself into a glimmering deer with eyes blue like the ocean, fur yellow like the sun, and dots brown like the earth. Diwali instantly fell in love with the deer and begged her husband to attain him for her. Though he suspected it might be a trap, he eventually did succumb to her begging and ran into the forest in pursue of the deer.
Needless to say, for once in the history of mankind, the man was right. (I know! Shocker for me too) The deer was the demon in disguise. He ran deep into the forest until Diwali’s husband got very, very lost. The demon came back to take Diwali. To make a long story shorter (and cuz I don’t remember the details and the kids are in their beds already) to prince gets Diwali back and returns to the palace to find that whoever was meant to take his crown, did not. He had waited twenty years for the rightful king’s return.
Super nice story, and I adore the name Diwali.
Diwali at Home
We live on the crisp of a very local village. Out all of our doors and windows, we see local huts, buffalo, and locals doing their local things with joy and pride. We like to live this way. They walk by and smile and we all wave. We don’t speak Hindi yet.
We woke up this morning to find flowers, incense, and candles on our doorstep. I think we were blessed while we slept. Oh, my heart sings. See why?
And when we came home after a magical day at Cola Beach with Amir and Shani and our new Italian friends, we found this exquisite Diwali lantern lit on our front porch. Oh, my soul sings. Another gift.
And then Sangati knocks at the door. She bears gifts. (Cuz clearly they haven’t been kind to us up until this junture.) She has a plate of food and a wrapped gift. You’re kidding me, right? You can’t possibly be standing here on my/your back porch step, smiling this adorably at us, with a gift?
Oh, but she can, and she did. Oh, the light within me singth. It does. She reflects it on her glowing face, that huge bulky smile. She does.
We went over there with a modest “Happy Diwali” blessing. They insisted that we sit with them, where we all just sat there staring, smiling, and miming at each other. We laughed a lot and we all bobbed our heads, cuz we can share in that love without saying words we mutually comprehend. I said “Dhanya What” for all their gifts and we just loved each other like that. We took a few pictures. And the end, one of the brothers who speaks broken English told us that in Dec 31 their entire family, including us (I know!) will take a family photo for the new year. Oh, Oh, Oh, somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good. Yes, Maria!
Our Personal Diwali Celebration
So though it’s so passed bedtime, we clearly must do a family Diwali ritual. We all wash the sand off our bodies. (It was so cute. Kobi showered with Orazi. I showered with Dhanya. Solai showered by candlelight.) Yes. So the power went out, and we sat in a half circle on the living room floor, eating their food, opening the gift and sharing the joy of this very moment.
The gift was unreal Goan candy. Something between sugar cane brittle, fudge, and heaven itself. We each took one bite from each and passed it on. It was crazy how each treat tasted even better than the one before.
Look at the box cover and notice the address. Yes! “Near bridge”. Welcome to India.
Someone asked me today where I live. “Oh, after the second chicken but before the really big buffalo, a bit after the curve in the road right before the mosque.” That’s about as clear as I can get.
Have I told you, by the way, how deeply I adore hearing the mosque call to prayer each day. The “Alla Akbaaaaaaaaaar” reminds me how my soul vibrated with those same sounds in my silent retreats to Metula, Israel. In that Metulan playground, nestled on the border with Lebanon and right over those hills peppered with mosques, the call to prayer chants were mesmerizing.
Diwali at School
The kids spent two days making this amazing mandala sand art which are pictured all over this post. Such a lovely Hindi art which requires such patience and care, such subtle delicacy, something that my soul deeply values. Yes. And the greatest joy of this art, is at the end of the Diwali night party, they put on some rock music and each child got to destroy his art. Yes.
In the Story of Buddha, they showed this intricate sand mandala that took the monks a year to complete. The second they are done, it is destroyed. Anicca. (Also used when your family is falling apart.) Yes. How lovely to teach that to our kids. Create, be pride, destroy. Everything in life comes and goes. Yes. The good, the bad, or more accurately the pleasurable and the painful. Yes. It all passes. So, yes, kids, make your art and have ecstatic joy in having it be no more. Yes.
Diwali in the Streets
So, the Indians make these huge, two-people high demon figures. The outside is paper-mache or more scarecrow like, but the inside is this huge light-weight frame large enough for someone to get inside of when night falls. So, as you drive around, these huge scary demons stand in the middle of the street with people dancing and banging drums around him. They’ll let you pass once you make a modest donation. Adorable.
At midnight, they burn the demons and let out an unreal amount of firecrackers. Kobi went out with friends, I went to sleep, and the kids watched the bonfire and craziness right outside their bedroom window. I woke up around 1 to what sounded like a war. Hysterical fireworks, these ear-deafening bombs, people hitting tins, and a huge blaze. I rolled out of bed to try and record it but was too asleep to work through that one. It was really so exciting and so close the kids said they felt the heat on their faces.
They kept talking and laughing with the Indians right outside their window. Oh, and good news. They returned the demon shield the kindly Hindu street friends gave them because once they learned that not burning any part of the demon and taking it into your home would be very, very, very bad karma. Well that settled that.
There is this huge black ant crawling all over me. These ants, unlike any I’ve know, are super friendly and adorable and seem to crawl all over us just to say hi. So, there is one I keep sweetly removing and he keeps coming back. I have that effect on people.
So, Jason Mraz is telling me this:
I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry bout all the things that will not happen to me.
LIvin in the moment
Livin my life
Easy and Breezy
With peace in my mind
Peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going
I’m already home
I’m letting go of the thoughts that do not make me strong
And if I fall asleep
I know you’ll be the one to remind me
Livin in the moment
Yes! I know!
Angela and Noah (from The Nomadic Family Travel Project- this unreal blessing of a film crew making a documentary movie about us!) have just left and we’re staying busy so as not to miss them too much. But we do. We keep saying things like, “Wow, this Diwali is the best Halloween ever for Angela and Noah. Yeah, I also wish they were here to share it with us,” or today,at the tiny local restaurant in Agonda, Shani and I looked at the table behind and wondered why they weren’t there. Sigh. My heart gets filled with this too.
Angela and Noah, Erin, Ram at Stupa House and a million other loving faces and memories around this globe this pinch my heart. Landlords who won’t stop loving us, thank you and Happy Diwali. So much love in this world. Love in so many shapes and forms, like the sweet cows I moo over to other side of the street where I serve them our daily compose or that angelic dog who waits outside our porch each afternoon to shake hands with the kids and wag, wag, wag that tail as he bows his gentle head down in love. Love is a-gushing about now.
Happy Diwali! Happy Diwali! Happy Diwali!
We sang it throughout the streets all day and now we sing it to you.
Happy Diwali friends!
If you liked this, you may enjoy some of the other celebrations we’ve had the esteem honor and joy to partake in around the world including Covered In Foam and Screaming in the Street- Cartagena, Colombia, Let Freedom Ring from 11-11-11 (remarkable post full of light and thought), and dozens of celebrations more that I realize I want to share with you. Yes, on my to do list. One day, friends, one day.
To ignore the mosquito bite that is driving me mad on my left knee and to drool with anticipation for the date and nut brownie I’m about to attack. As always, I’d be honored to hear your thoughts. Happy Diwali!