Divali- Celebrating the Festival of Insulting a Woman

Happy Divali

That”s right. Vernacular (Hindi language) does not have any sound for “w”, but has one for “v”. So, when transliterating, it ought to be DIVALI and not Diwali!

Like most of the festivals, this one too brings back many memories.

Although we as a family celebrated Kali Puja on Divali, I have had the opportunity to “celebrate” Divali in my school and workplace too.

In GFPS (the school I had studied till 8th standard), I had spent my most memorable days of my Life till now.

Perhaps, they will always remain the Golden period. Year after year, I assisted my class teachers in making Rangoli, decorating the class- room and also creating a mini- temple on the teacher’s table.
Tanu, you may not remember, but I do, you had bottoms up the Thumbs Up bottle when in 7th standard. Harit had burst huge crackers in one corner of the class. Himanshu had sat like one shy and morose one. I had danced and freaked out as I am. Our class teacher Ms. Maninder Pal Kaur had danced too. That used to be one day of the year, when we were allowed to carry a music system to our school. If only a few snaps were also clicked. But nevermind, at least I am now able to share this here and a couple of class- mates and school friends are around to read this.
Sob.. sob.. sniff.. how senti..!!

One Divali, I had made a big garland out of the marigold flowers.

Such huge flowers they were..!! Last year 2 such had bloomed– I didn’t own a camera or else would have clicked the pics. I plan to do that this year.
We did not do the Laxmi Puja at home. Reason: my grandmother’s name was Lakshmi. I had wanted to do the ritual at home- and I knew anything about how to. I had collected those empty Pepsi, Fanta and 7up cans that my uncle often bought from his office. He worked in Americal Center.
I had utilized the space- next to the TV, where I was clicked. For the “ceremony”, I had made Alpana on floor. I could create pretty ornate Alpanas. I had even made a set of footprints, un- identical “walking” from the main door till the Puja place. Mom had gone out of the kitchen from the main door to enter back to the house; since  that was not supposed to be jumped upon. She had exclaimed in utter amazement since nobody had ever told me that that was to be made in Lakshmi Puja. They were the Goddess and the owl walking in mom; I had replied when mom had enquired upon in great bewilderment. I had not attended any Puja ceremony in Bengali family- prior to that. Yet, I had painted the set of feet exactly how that is denoted in such rituals..!!
The Marigold that had (over) grown at the terrace garden; were offered in Kali Puja in a form of a huge garland. The centre “locket” flowers were as big as 5″ in diameter!! Everyone in the Puja Pandal had expressed surprise watching such big ones. I had a few sprung up last winters in my bedroom terrace too. People had visited in plenty to “witness” the event. Thanks for asking- I had not clicked them. C’mon, I didn’t know that I would need that for my Blog. I would this year..

~*~*~

My school was changed the next year. I lost my mom on one Divali morning itself. Ever since, I have been unable to freak out as I used to on this day. Not that I have held anything against the day or the fest; but it just didn’t happen!

~*~*~

While working with Hutch, I had participated in Diya (earthen lamps) decorating contest. Peacock Lamp.

I did have a snap of that day; not anymore. I guess it’s left at Hemant’s house. I had won the competition. The Diya that Shefali (my team member) had brought; was painted with the colors that were provided at the workplace. For 4 consecutive years that I had spent with Hemant (before marrying him and spelling my Doom), I accompanied him to buy sweets and earthen lamps. No matter what, I traveled with him to SN buying flowers and other decorating objects for his family. The last and the 4th year of our “dating” years’, I was “invited” by his family (read hemant had made his parents reluctantly calling me over for the evening). Witnessing to how the women-folk were not allowed to touch the things to be placed for the rituals; I had shuddered. I had worn a black satin tunic top, with silver bottom and stole. I was forced to cover my head with a pink stole, in the name of auspicious requirement! Superstitions.. The year I had entered the wed- lock with him, all celebrations (all festivals included) had come to an abrupt halt.
Self painted peacock lamp!!

~*~*~

While working with Convergys, chocolates were distributed since we were made to slog on a festival. Whatever!!

~*~*~

This is how I feel about this day.

While most of the Indians know about “Lord” Rama returning home after slaying the Demon King and freeing his wife Queen Sita; have you ever given a thought beyond this?

Sita was then made to enter a huge fire- set- to prove her Chastity! I wonder, being a woman, I really shouldn’t feel happy about this fest. If at all, I should be grieving about what this queen woman had done millennium years ago. She had not only scarred her own pride but also set pretty low standards of self respect for all women to come in ages there-after. It was Sita who had come alive out of that fire and still- abandoned by her husband. Here WE are, we consider her husband to be the God. What a Divine comedy! Our very understanding of such facts explain how the women of this Society would be treated. No wonder they are mis- treated.

Those lit up lights, candles and lamps only remind me of- how a woman was burnt alive. She had come out unscathed out of Fire but (and maybe so) was forced to lead a life of a woman with no identity. Just who knows the history anyways? Perhaps, she died in that fire. Maybe Rama did marry someone else. As a  slave to his habit of traumatizing woman, he had bandoned the 2nd one too. Maybe her name was Sita as well.

Either ways, this “festival” really don’t show men in good “light”. To only dazzle us from the reality, thousands of lamps are lit. Alas, if you choose to stay blind- folded, no amount of luminosity would enlighten your state of Being.

May the lamps are lit so as to uncover the truth and unmask the darker issues often a women gets victimized of!! May this Divali set- newer and better standards for women. May they also be awarded a tag of being a “human”. Even a Woman has a “man” in herself- just why do we keep ignoring HER existence?

~*~*~

Just when I had thought that mentioned above was all to share, I rememeber this-

I was in 4th standard. I had acted in a skit. I was the “grandma” of the family, since I wore glasses. Priti Sharma was my daughter-in-law and Manish Singhal my “husband”.. LOLsss
My hair was painted white- to show my age. After the skit, I had sung a song too- theme oriented. I was amongst the choir girls. It was super- fun and lovely. Maninder ma’am had staged that act for us! I so wish to regain that lost glory of being in the lime- light always.

Once again, as a kid, I got to celebrate cross- cultural festivals while participating in extra- curricular acts. Now as I write; I get to interact with people from all across the Globe! It feels wonderful.

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About Olivia

Corporate worker, textile designer, writer.
This entry was posted in Festivals, My Biopic Log, My mind, Our Society and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Divali- Celebrating the Festival of Insulting a Woman

  1. sauravluk9 says:

    Amazin post..i went back to the school for a minute or two.

  2. Dear Olivia, I am so glad I found this posting. I didn’t know about Divali – although my first husband was Jewish, so we celebrated Hanukkah, also a “festival of lights.” Your observations from the feminist perspective (that includes men who are sensitive as well) are so good, I’m sending this link to a few friends who will sympathize.

    As a Christian, really a follower of Jesus (Christianity getting such a bad rap from fundamentalists, as other religions also are getting a bad rap), I know I get depressed around the Christmas holiday, for reasons other than yours, losing your mom must have been just awful. We conduct a “Blue Christmas” service and tell folks, if you get the blues around this season, if you don’t feel “Holly Jolly Santa Jesus Mistletoe Happy” like people expect you to, come and share. We have a circle of chairs, the room is darkened, I usually offer music, we talk and cry and light candles together.

    In this way, Christmas has become more of a “Festival of Lights” for me. I cry as much as anyone else, and it’s very healing. We share a biscuit and coffee or tea afterwards, and we go out into the cold night feeling unburdened…

    This was beautiful. Thanks for sharing it. Love from your friend, Amy

    • Olivia says:

      Good to read about you Amy Dearest..

      I had known of this but now reading about it too through you. Thanks for sharing this. It now seems the essence of all Festivals are lost with time and we end up only blowing trumpets and spend crazy in name of celebrating. We don’t care to look beyond it any more. Festivals of light appeals to me too and am thrilled to know how you guys do it.. Isn’t it much better..?

      I mean we tend to have no time now for one another but during Festivals we over-pour around each other as if tormented by some flood. If only we used our spirits to even stay in touch in times of need!

      The entire concept irks me giving me creeps- so much display of pseudo- values around.. Nevermind them. We will live it our Way.
      I am glad you liked it My Friend. Please feel free to share it anywhere you so wish to. I would be happy to read more inputs here.. 🙂

      Loads of Love My Dear
      xoxox

  3. ladynyo says:

    What a lovely, and instructive essay!

    The plight of women hasn’t changed enough with violence, domestic violence and the horrific things that happen to women and children during war, and during peace.

    Yes, the internet allows us views and friends from all over the globe!

    In friendship!

    Lady Nyo

    • Olivia says:

      Wow Nyo!!

      Good to read you here. Sadly that’s the truth- it really hasn’t much! The worst part is that this is how it has been since ages..

      *Friends *
      Love xox

  4. ogungbesan20 says:

    OLIVIA, I WANT TO SAY THANKS FOR THIS EYE OPENER. EVER SINCE I JOINED THE BLOGGING COMMUNITY, I HAVE BEEN LEARNING SO MUCH IN A SHORTEST WHILE. ALAS, WE KNOW NOW! THANKS FOR SHARING

  5. Hello Olivia
    It is a common perception about Ram.
    Problem is not with the story but how we view it.
    ‘Walking through fire’ and then ‘coming out alive’ and then ‘left again’ is a very complex mystery.
    For a matter of hint:- Both male and female are supposed to put a glue in their relationship. That glue is not proximity.
    It is sacrifice on part of both; I repeat both, for each other.
    Partner’s public image needed to be guarded, no amount of words from Ram could do that, or his arrows or bravery could win her public image.
    Though I don’t support the act in current concept, but I am not able to think of any answer till date how could Ram support her public image in that INDIAN mental framework of SUPERB INDIAN WOMANHOOD.

    Life, leading a society, being a woman and man, solving complex problems and setting precedence for generations to come are not that simple.

    I shall be happy if you reciprocate to same on my blog where woman are worshipped as goddesses.
    http://drmadangoyal.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/deepawali/

    • Olivia says:

      Sure Dr. Goyal- I would.

      I am honored to say the least. I mean coming from an Indian and yet been able to appreciate my words- damn neat. I know of people who are gossiping about this!! Anyways- they would always be some around- no matter what you do or not.. 🙂

      I some what have led a very difficult Life being a woman- although I am super proud to be one- As I Am, I have always been a Feminist- no wonder, I was able to emerge as a winner when things had become worse from bad..

      I’ll stop by the moment I am done posting Invites for Monday Potluck.. Happy Sunday.. Wishing you a cheery Winters Dear..
      Loads of wishes- xox

  6. Luke Prater says:

    Say it loud, girl! Things like this need to be written about and exposed. Thank you

    Luke x

    • Olivia says:

      Luke, most of the Indians are aware of the story more or less- however, Not many would appreciate it. They would rather stone me to death before take any “hit” on their culture and “pride”

      Thanks and Love xox

  7. stilekke says:

    ….hey….happy Divali….take care and Iwill pop in again…soon…and thank you for the stunning wellcome on my blog…I have loads of questions about links etc..and you did offer…. :-))

    • Olivia says:

      Thank you for your wishes- I hope you have some Indian families around you to celebrate at your place too..
      The pleasure’s been completely min- go ahead- shoot as many questions as you would wish to know about- I’ll reply all of those- 😉

      Happy Weekend My Dear Friend- xox

  8. Jamie Dedes says:

    This is fabulous, Olivia. A celebration in a post. I did a post to wish all the best for your celebration. Please check it. It’s up today. Would you make sure it’s okay.

    I answered you NaNo question in reply on comments, and now that I think of it you should just take a day away from the computer and celebrate. You are celebrating for three more days after today, no?

    Have fun. Enjoy this the greatest of your holidays and don’t let stress get in the way of that.

    Love ya’ kiddo! 🙂

    • Jamie Dedes says:

      P.S.: I think you peacock is absolutely beautiful. Nice work! You are so multitalented.

      • Jamie Dedes says:

        More thoughts: All of us have mixed feelings about these big holidays we have in all our traditions. (Among Christians, Christmas brings on serious depression in many.) These holidays are so loaded, so to speak, with unrealistic expectations and bitter disappointments. After awhile, I think we just take the good, let go of the bad, and move on.

        • Olivia says:

          Yes- you are right. you reminded me of how people go sulking during the Christmas time!!
          Very well said- That sets you up on the spiritual level too- take the good – leave the bad and for “who-ever’s” sake- MOVE ON.. I have written loads about it here in my I,ME,MYSELF column (at the right)

          You have read the whole post so accurately My Dear- no wonder you are what you are.. xoxox

      • Olivia says:

        hehehe- Thank you My Dear.. Blushing… xox

    • Olivia says:

      Oh wow- this is so cool- I read you- you read me- LOLsss
      I also did that for Halloween too.. 🙂 It says Trick or Treat..

      I read already what a marvelous job you have done with that Divali post- mesmerizing- wow!! It felt so beautiful watching that “diya” image.. About celebrations- I don’t really. I lost my mom the same day 15 years back.. Ever since, I could never get an opportunity to go swell. As she always said that once you make it big, you would have all the time and reason by your side to laugh around- so just being careful and concentrating.. I don’t restrict myself. Like yesterday i empties a White Wine.. Oh I am not a compulsive- yet I wonder how come I do such freaky things- LOLsss

      haha.. being a Leo, I get so fired up with passion in whatever I do!! Thankyou so much My Dear
      Regards and Love- xoxox

  9. Chloe says:

    Hey Olivia 😀

    What a great and interesting post, splattered with humour, questioning and many fond memories for you as a youngter (and a few bad memories too, but we can only learn from them hey?). Your writing is a delight to read and your humour is contagious!

    Here’s to many happy and sun-filled days for you Olivia. Keep on being the strong and inspirational woman that you are.

    Chloe xXx

    • Olivia says:

      ** BLUSH **

      Thanks you so much Chloe Darling!!
      Yeah! I try to write exactly how we talk- converse and communicate!!
      You are such a Darling rolling up so sweet words for me here. I guess I am because of all of you here- you being always so sweet and vivacious- I am sure- we would have hit it off well if we were neighbors in childhood.. Not that we have left any to realize now.. LOLsssss

      Loads of Love My Dear Darling Chloe- Hugs- xoxox

  10. Bodhirose says:

    Thanks for sharing your views here, Olivia. I don’t really know the story of Rama and Sita, and didn’t know that she had to walk in fire to “prove” her purity to him. Did Rama not trust her? I would think that you are not the only Indian woman to have these thoughts about this festival. As women become stronger and stand up for their rights–perhaps festivals that no longer serve any real modern-day purpose will fade into history. Obviously, though, they are still meaningful for very many.

    But if Sita survived walking into fire, that shows me that she was indeed very powerful–maybe a woman/goddess to be admired.

    Or maybe I need to mind my own business because it’s difficult for an “outsider” to comment on ancient Hindu rites and festivals. 🙂

    With great respect,
    Gayle xoxo

    • Olivia says:

      No way Gayle- you are no outsider- you are a woman and with a mind that is just at the place everyone else should also have..!! About the story, you could refer at the bottom of the post- Sita’s endless sufferings and
      Ramayana Retold

      Sita although is worshiped as Goddess but not as great as her husband.. Well, she was then forced to go to jungle to spend the rest of her life.. When her teenager kids had forced Rama to get Sita back in the palace, she was again asked through that “Agni- Pariksha”.. That’s when she entered the earth. She had screamed in the ether that if she is “right”, let earth take her in. It is said that the earth then opened itself up and took Sita in..!!

      The majority of the women are still made to slog here- I am sure the same is in the rest of the world too!! Why else Domestic Violence be addressed as a global issue. The greater their tag (position), the painful their tortures are!

      Refer this- Epilogue, and this is only a couple of Instances- The majority is brewing in ever household- my story included!!

      Go ahead and share your views. You are no outsider to me. Anyone who feels that way about you or others commenting here, would be asked to buzz off- or else should prove otherwise.. Simple

      Loads of wishes and great respect to you too xoxoxox

      • Bodhirose says:

        Oh good, Olivia, I would have hated to have insulted anyone with my limited knowledge of this festival.

        Yes, domestic abuse is worldwide and it would be especially demeaning to see it somehow revered through a yearly festival.

        I’m sorry to see this happening and that feelings are hurt.
        With love,
        Gayle xoxo

        • Olivia says:

          You are right Gayle- It’s more common than the common cold!
          And equally suppressed is its existence.. It really hurts- I have survived that myself and hence can stamp that pain.. Even the Law Order sucks- and I guess it’s everywhere..

          I hope things change for betterment!!

          Loads of Love My Dear Gayle Girl.. xoxox

  11. Kavita says:

    Well well well.. ya can’t complain about the glory being “lost” ..can you?? 😉 It’s those same glorious days of yesteryear that’s coming out to the fore here and making you feel glorious all over again! And as long as you are feeling great about it, nothing is lost!! 🙂

    I have never cared much for any festival as such (although I’ve had loads of fun at EACH!)… yet, I believe they are “created” just so we brighten up our lives and jolly up our otherwise meaningless existence, just for at least ONE DAY! Maybe if we do that for just those days, the little flame of ‘life’ that flutters in us keeps from getting extinguished! 🙂

    Memories will always haunt us.. good or bad. But it’s for us to make more memories with what we have today! So, with that, cheers to you, me, and every single one of us! 🙂
    And Diwali or not, HAPPY FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS!! May our hearts be lit with the zesty passion to live… for as long as we live!! 😀
    xoxoxooxo

    • Olivia says:

      Your visit is always so special. You read each n every word till its last imprint! 🙂

      Likewise- I too have celebrated most of the fests although never really connected with any. You are right about we brightening our One Day in the process of celebrating!! (^_^)

      Memories- who knows better than Me- how haunting they become. Now in the process of liberating myself of all such intangible things as well.. That’s the future “Mataji” talking- LOLsss

      Your comment just balanced the sarcasm in my post. Indeed, HAPPY FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS!! to you and everyone else!! 😀
      AMEN

      Wait.. I’m gonna comeback after I am dead- so be prepared to experience the real witch.. haha Love always My Dear- xoxoxoxox

  12. Heart says:

    I know, I used to struggle with that particular rendition in the story too.. So much for feminism and the Hindu scriptures, right.. ?! At least I am happy women are changing all over the world, more freedom of speech and more freedom to choose.. And you, yourself stand as a great example!
    Love all the pictures as usual, the peacock, you say it’s not yours, but still very beautiful!! The pictures with all the diyas lit up is so cute!
    Khoob pathake phodo aur Diwali manaao, Olivia!
    🙂

    • Olivia says:

      Thanks Rachana.. That’s a pretty big compliment. I am stuffed up in Pride!

      That peacock was brought by Shafali, but I painted it!! So it’s my creation.. do you see another stuffed up Olivia in Pride..? LOLsss
      I so have come to believe that we all have been mega time pseudos and hypocrites!! Glad things are now being noticed. It takes one to know one- so if you “liked” what I have written here; some credits of a changed today goes to you too..

      Yes.. Shubh Deepavali Rachana.. be easy on sweets.. ahahaha xoxox

  13. Scent of my heart says:

    Interesting post dear, to learn something about other cultures! I love the picture with the candles! And may we, all women be happy all over the world!

  14. Kelly Hay says:

    Reading about other cultures always fascinates me. Thanks so much for sharing this; I can understand now why such a festival would bring about confusing and mixed emotions!

    • Olivia says:

      The best part is that only I feel about it this way- I’ll bet with my Life that Indians and Hindus maybe calling me Names right now- not that I care.. It’s THE BIGGEST fest of all the other ones- yet, I feel not even a bit better!!

      I so appreciate your stopping by to read a cross- culture post and also appreciating my views.. Loads of Love and Hugs- xox

  15. Eric says:

    I’d never heard of Divali (Diwali) before… the Festival of Insulting a Woman?
    (Do they say, “Happy Divali, ya bee-yatch!”? LOL!)

    I hope there’s a counter-festival for insulting men as well.
    (But I’ll bet there isn’t)

    Anyway, I wish you a Happy Divali, free from all insults.

    • Olivia says:

      So sweet of you Eric.. Thanks so much for your wishes.. 🙂
      It feels so wonderful that you wish me from the other side of Globe.. Thanks again..

      Wishing you warm Winters.. Love xox

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