Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Diwali!

Today (well, technically yesterday, in India's time zone) is the first day of Diwali, the Festival of Lights!  It is a 5-day festival commemorating the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.

It is the most important celebration of the year, equivalent to Christmas for Christians, and signifies the victory of good over evil.  Since many of my coworkers are here temporarily from India, I set up a potluck to celebrate Diwali because they will all be away from their families on this most important holiday.  It was also time for another stop on our cuisines of the world tour, and we hadn't visited India yet, so it sounded like perfect timing.  :) 

We had a sign-up sheet to make sure there were be a good selection of main dishes, sides, and desserts.  I had no idea what most of it was based on the names, but the team said we had a good meal ahead of us!  

Dave offered to make Chicken 65 for my contribution since I had class last night and couldn't spend any time in the kitchen.  It is my all-time favorite Indian dish - there are many urban legends about how it got its name, and I'm still not sure which ones, if any, are true.  It is spicy, but not overwhelming, plus it's fried chicken - how could you go wrong?  Here's the spread -Sooda brought in a string of lights to decorate the food table, since all the homes in India will be decorated with lights today!


Dave's chicken

My 2 favorites, other than the Chicken 65 Dave made, were the lemon rice and peas and potatoes (2 dishes on the left), made by Madhavi's mom and Raj, respectively:

After we were finished eating, we played Bingo, also provided by Sooda!  He found this awesome vintage-looking Bingo ball cage that came with balls, scoreboard, and cards.

We played 5 or 6 games, so half the room won fabulous prizes, like a can of Lysol to prepare for the impending cold/flu season, a picture frame, package of photo paper, or an air freshener like the ones I keep in my pantry and linen closet.  I won a round, so that's the prize I picked :)

Here are the other winners:
Can't you feel Raj's excitement?!?  When he won, he shouted YES!!! as if he's been waiting his whole life to win Bingo!  :)

Sudha - who also had a birthday today!  Happy Birthday!

Madhavi with her picture frame and winning Bingo card!

Kiron won the Lysol - and he looks kinda sad, no?  :)

...and a team photo:
Sitting:  Walter, Sooda
Front row standing:  Valerie, Rashmi, me, Madhavi, Sudha, Saurabh
Back row: Rahul, Rob, Raj

It was a good time, and hopefully made the team feel better about celebrating Diwali in a country that probably doesn't feel like home, and without their extended families.  I'm sure it's hard on them being so far from the people they love!

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