Appreciation for cultural diversity is essential for our co-existence !

This weekend I had an opportunity to witness whole world under one roof at Mexican Heritage Plaza at San Jose. Kudos to the creative director, partners and producers who were successful in bringing world culture in one and half hours time, unbelievably astonishing.

“The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people”

I loved how every show we begin with a prayer it’s part of the culture and here the way it was done was unique where small kids were performing Dindi, the folk dance of Maharashtra and it is a religious ecstasy – meets the purpose of prayer and the folk dance and I felt I was home :).
As I was in emotions when the entry of Congo dancers performing Denadon Africana – a flavor of Africa. Music is one such thing that one doesn’t have to know the technicalities of dancing because the music does its work for you and you unconsciously dance to the tune.

I have to applaud the cute little girls performing the opera figures representing China – Ah..mazing! What a perfection in every move. It was beautiful like a bud when its flowering and as it does each petal unfolds into an amazing dance from a different country and how all these petals make a beautiful flower together.

 

There were lot of dances that I had only head about and this was a moment where one can feel the completeness of art and culture coming together. I could feel the power of humans. How powerful we are with our unique culture and that too so colorful and vibrant.

It had the dominance of Indian dances from different parts of India such as Garba, Raas leela, Kaikottikali, Chari, Bhangra, Giddha, Jhumar and I just went to the thought that in school we were told how lucky we are to be in a country where you have all four seasons and so many cultural heritage – indeed!

I am sure this is not only about India, other countries too have their own cultural heritage which we are only getting a glimpse of it. The beautiful dance Coco and Samba no pe from Brazil, Scottish country and highland dancing, Hula, Blooming waterlilies Chinese representation of love for nature, Kalilang from Philippines, Fiesta Tapatia from Mexico,  it was just amazing. How proud we human should be about ourselves. We talk about racism, why should we have any such things we have so many great things besides this creativity in arts and culture that we can make useful to bring solidarity and peace.

“We all smile in the same language” 🙂

I just loved the jamming session of drummers from Africa, Brazil and India – it was a classic piece!!! I felt it was short, wish the intermission could have been delayed !!!

Hats off to Sangam Arts in collaboration with Xpressions to bring all these under one roof that too in a collaborative way where Fiesta Tapatia dancers before exiting welcome the bhangra dancers and they exit after dancing few steps of bhangra – it was a pleasure to the eyes and soul.

The more we are international the more we want to see such things where any color any race can participate and represent any culture any country – That was a true multicultural Mosaic of the Valley!

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences” ~ Audre Lorde

~ Dawn

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Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong…

This time of the year, I really miss India, specially Pune. Growing up in Pune as a Malayalee (Keralite) is one thing but I grew up watching and being part of Diwali celebration.

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I think every year I did something or the other and celebrated in my way but this time probably I am feeling its all fake. My friends say I should still do it that’s how kids are going to know and learn about it. But Diwali is not only about one person it’s about everyone celebrating and when you don’t have that kind of unity it’s a failure.

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Being in NDA, Pune I celebrated diwali with friends and family by wearing new clothes, exchanging sweets, mom used to make sweets at home- I miss karanji the most and play with fireworks (Laxmi bomb, Vishnu bomb, paanpatti, phuljhadi, ladi, captain bomb, rocket and so on) – it was fun. But when I got to live with Maharashtrians in the family I fully lived the 6 days diwali celebration and each day had its meaning and purpose and there was so much of enthusiasm that no matter what issues you have all goes away during festivity times. The weeks ahead preparation of sweets, shopping for 6 days different clothes and matching jewelries and so on… the crowd used to be fun and late nights coming home with eating dinner out as no one has time to cook and yet excited with the whole nine yard celebration.

“We don’t call it homesick. We call it missing home. There’s not a sickness involved, it’s a state of mind.”

I miss all that today and feels a vacuum everywhere. So many messages, celebration pictures on social media and all this is reflecting on me and my thoughts.

A diwali where I am missing my mom’s homemade sweets and the traditional aspect of the celebration.

“Sometimes you will never know the true value of a Moment until it becomes a Memory”

Happy Diwali!!!

clay-diya

~ Dawn

Discomfort is always a necessary part of the process of enlightenment…!!!

Many times we follow certain tradition because we grew up watching others. As we understand sometimes we do ask questions and sometimes it doesn’t bother anyone as part of tradition it’s more of celebration and social engagement hence it doesn’t come out as a question as why do we follow this norm.

“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought” ~ John. F. Kennedy

My story about ‘Durga Puja‘, is somewhat similar to that. Even though born in a Keralite family (Kerala, in South India), I grew up in Pune (in Maharashtra State) and that gave me the exposure to diverse India. The people, food and festivals and traditions. I always felt I am privileged as I got the opportunity to be part of every celebration or festivity whether it belonged to East, West, North and South India – I had friends and their family who had these traditions and festivals that they maintained and celebrated and I just merged with them.

It’s with the same spirit I enjoy all festivals here in USA as well. “Sindur Khela” is where every year I look forward to attend as part of Durga Puja, and my thoughts and understanding was limited to as it’s part of Durga Puja and it’s a fun game. Being a feminist, for me Durga is a symbol of girl-power and every girl must feel proud of being one. It’s interesting how we start reading about these when we have to explain to our non-Indian friends about these festivities.
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As I read about it, it totally changed me. My excitement and enthusiasm somewhere vanished. My heart started questioning why do I call this a celebration when it’s not something that every women can enjoy?
At the same time Durga Puja and Sindur Khela is all about power of womanhood. If that is true then why every woman is not allowed to participate in Sindur Khela?
Why unmarried, widows and divorcees are not allowed to be part of this Sindur Khela, aren’t they women? Aren’t they powerful?

“Tradition is an explanation for acting without thinking” ~ Grace McGarvie 

These thoughts really crushed me and made me feel dejected. In the name of Durga Puja and Sindur Khela it’s again the hypocrisy of manhood that is celebrated in the veil of womanhood. The male dominant society created another tradition which seemed like for women to socialize, celebrate and pray for the happiness of husband and children. Shouldn’t that be the same for the husband too? He should also pray for his wife and children’s happiness so why not men has any traditions to follow? How do we justify single moms or widow moms? Don’t they also want their kids to be happy and safe?

“Myself worth isn’t determined by others”

Marriage and sindur is all about men and about their manhood. It’s not about women celebrating themselves.
I am an ally at the LGBTQ community and I believe in equality in every respect and this is something against my belief. Hence something all these years I rejoiced getting decked up and getting colored in red sindur and socialized with friends and others has made me to think.

I don’t think there is sindur khela for me next year because I don’t support something that discriminates any human being at any level.

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I have though seen and witnessed some of the divorcees participating in Sindur Khela in the events that I have attended and it only made me happy to see that but my real thoughts are with those who are barred from participating in Sindur Khela. In their name, I decided not to enjoy anymore such traditions.

If we believe in all traditions then ‘Sati Pratha‘ was also a tradition that was followed in ancient India and one should follow that too, isn’t it?

I think we all must question these traditions just like how we question our constitution because things have to change with time and for the betterment of the human beings and our society. Otherwise, unknowingly we are supporting discrimination and we must not give wrong message if we are sure that we don’t support it.

“Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated”

Now, I am only going back and thinking about those moments where without any idea my heart was enjoying the celebrations and festivities with friends and family…and someone from inside says, ‘It’s okay because you didn’t know about it’!

“Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows”

~ Dawn

"Remember this December, that love weighs more than gold!"

It’s been very busy month for me with the release and then supporting the production. But then it’s that time of the year for planning your Holiday Parties and family gatherings and I would like to wish you All….

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love” ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

May this holiday season bring all the near ones closer to each other to add more love and peace upon this earth.

Happy Holidays ~ enjoy with food, drinks, gifts and lots of fun but make sure you are all safe and sound.

“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.”

Weekend was a bit relaxing for me. I had a bit of drive-thru at the near by place in the Bay Area.
Through out the street all I see was Mexican flags. People have plastered the flags to their helmets, cars, self and what not! But all my confusion was …is there a match going on as I always thought that the flag is used to support a specific country and this was a very similar situation but I was not able to make out which game that was … lol

“You don’t stop cheering because you’ve grown old – you grow old because you’ve stopped cheering”

It reminded me of Caribbean festival times in Toronto…I used to enjoy a lot good summer weather (not like what we have here in the Bay Area where its still cold)! BBQ, good Caribbean food, music and over all the cultural celebration with people around the world!!! I have always enjoyed these festivals and believe me I have not missed any whether its Greek festival, Irish or Caribbean, moment of celebration was never missed 🙂

“If I need a cause for celebration
Or a comfort I can use to ease my mind
I rely on my imagination
And I dream of an imaginary time.”
~ Billy Joel

This morning I came to know the Mexican flag was all about “Cinco de Mayo” (Spanish for ‘5th of May’). This is a regional holiday in Mexico and primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla. It is not an obligatory federal holiday but it commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin over French forces in the battle of Puebla on May 5th 1862.
This date is observed in the US and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.
Some people think it to be Mexico’s Independence Day which is not as that date is Sep 16th which is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico.

“Truly loving another means letting go of all expectations. It means full acceptance, even celebration of another’s personhood.”

It seemed quite a good stunning celebration as I saw people with loud music, food and drinks around sharing with people.

Around 5th afternoon I see margarita at work with Corona beer as part of celebration – wow! Isn’t that amazing!!!

It’s celebration moment and the more it’s merrier so let me wish everyone
A great Cino de Mayo!

“Fly free and happy beyond birthdays and across forever, and we’ll meet now and then when we wish, in the midst of the one celebration that never can end.” ~ Richard Bach