Festival of Lights
Posted October 5, 2003
Festival of Lights
Saturday, October 25, 2003. 6 pm
Sri Sri Krishna Temple, Spanish Fork, Utah
Indian Festival of Lights & Thanksgiving (Two Festivals Rolled Into One)
Krishna Temple, 8628 S Main,
Spanish Fork, Utah 798-3559/787-1510
Diwalior Deepavali (Row of Lights), a composite festival, runs for three consecutive days and is celebrated throughout India. The festivities include an early morning bath, drawing of sacred diagrams on floor, new clothes, elaborate food followed by firecrackers and illumination in the evening. Often the houses are whitewashed to mark an auspicious beginning and sweets are distributed among family, friends and merchants. Good over Evil is the main message of Diwali. The first day of Diwali is called Naraka Chaturdashiand marks the destruction of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. The second day is in in honor of goddess Lakshmiwho is the bestower of health, wealth, and prosperity. The third day is Bali Padyami, and on this day, King Bali would come out of the nether world and rule the earth as per the boon given by Lord Vishnu during his incarnation as Vamana. Diwali also commemorates the homecoming of Prince Rama to Ayodhya and the worship of goddess Durga. The date of the festival also coincides with the return of the avatar of God, Sri Rama, to His ancestral kingdom after an exile of 14 years and many adventures. All the citizens welcomed Ram1s return home by brightening up the entire city of Ayodhya and setting off fireworks.
The Diwali occurs during the lull between fall harvests and the onset of the monsoons. Thus it is a time of thanksgiving, and that corollary festival is called Anna Kuta (literally meaning, 3heaps of Food2) Lord Krishna inaugurated this festival by inspiring the inhabitants of His village (Vrndavan) to worship the cows on this one day per year and to prepare a huge celebratory feast consisting of no less than 108 preparations.
Observing the above traditions, the schedule of events for this dual celebration is as follows:
Huge vegetarian feast served throughout the evening, from 6 pm. $5.00 donation per plate. Samosa, pakora, rasgula, saag paneer, puri, sandesh, hallava, papadam, kher, matar paneer, alou gobi sabji, kofta, malpura, gulabjamun, and on and on. Bring a preparation if you can to augment the feast!
6:00 pm: Fire Sacrifice: grains, seeds, etc from the creation of the Lord are offered back to Him through the medium of fire-very colorful.
6:30 pm: Govardhan puja: Krishna once lifted a mountain named Govardhan and used it as an umbrella to protect His devotees from a devastating rainfall sent by Indra the king of heaven. This pastime is commemorated by circumambulating a large hill made from a sweet called hallava, and decorated with other sweets, savories, plastic cows, jelly bean rocks, broccoli spear trees, green coconut grass etc.
7:00 pm: Dance of the Gods & Goddesses
Alia Bartlett* and Shaheen Sheik*,
Disciples of Malathi Iyengar & members of Rangoli Dance Company (Los Angeles)
The performance features dances in the Bharata Natyam(Classical dance of India) style to enact stories related to the gods and goddesses of India. India is a storehouse of legends and these dances reveal stories that depict HIM as the infant and then the lover Krishna, the handsome king Rama, the learned Goddess Saraswati, the loyal but independent Parvati, the fiercesome Shiva or the benevolent Lakshmi.
7:20 pm during dancers1 costume change: Multi media Comedy presentation: Count Dracula Gets a Gita, cast Karuna Manna and Jai Krishna Perry.
7:45 pm Go-Puja; Worship of a live cow with flower garlands and sweets. Indian culture is that instead of killing the cows for 700 lbs. of their meat, they are respected for producing upwards of 90,000 lbs. of nutritional wholesome milk in a lifetime. And because we all drink the milk of a cow in our infancy, the cow is regarded as a sort of mother.
8:00 pm Anna Kuta & Arotik ceremony: Lights in the temple room are turned down and the altar area, is opened dramatically to the sounds of conch shells being blown and gongs sounding, to reveal a food extravaganza of preparations offered to the Deities. The whole show is illuminated by flashing colored lights and dozens of votive candles.
8:20 pm: Ras Garba, Indian Folk Dancing (very easy for anybody to learn in minutes)
- * Alia has been learning Bharata Natyam for over 6 years under the guidance of Malathi Iyengar. Alia performed her solo dance debut (Arangetram) in 2002 and has been a member of Malathi Iyengar & Rangoli Dance Co. since 2001. She was first exposed to and studied Bharata Natyam at UCLA, where she received her B.A. in Anthropology. She has now returned to school for Nursing. Alia has a love for ritual performance and has co-produced and directed Chakra Explorers shows for 4 years. She also finds much joy in salsa, hip-hop and belly dancing.
- * Shaheen, a first-generation South Asian American, began dancing at the tender age of 3. Her entry into the classical arts occurred four years later, when she began studying Bharatnatyam. Shaheen fell in love with this traditional dance form and devoted herself to its study. Although without a teacher for many years, Shaheen maintained her study on her own. In 1996, she met Malathi Iyengar and the two immediately forged a committed teacher-disciple relationship. Under Malathis training, Shaheen presented her Arangetram, solo dance debut, in 1997 and has been a Rangoli company dancer ever since performing around the nation, including Nashville, Spokane, and Los Angeles. In addition to being a dancer, Shaheen is also a choreographer, a poet, and a musician, her main instruments being voice and guitar. By profession, Shaheen is a singer/songwriter. Her music embodies folk and soul elements, combines both her Western and Eastern roots, and is driven by her rhythmic guitar playing and the importance she places on the drums, a product of her 20-plus years of dancing.