Bandi Chor Diwas and Diwali, The Festival of Lights

95We are in the midst of celebrating Bandi Chor Diwas and Diwali, the Festival of Lights (more fun posts to come!) Bandi Chor Diwas is the celebration of Guru Hargobind Ji’s liberation from the prison of Emperor Jahangir and his brilliant ruse to ensure the liberation of another 52 political prisoners along with him.  This Day of Liberation coincides with Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which is the largest holiday of the year for Hindus and signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. Diwali coincides with the darkest new moon, which falls between mid-October and mid-November.

On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in colorful, bright, elegant clothes, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, create rangoli and other creative patterns on floors, near doors and walkways and participate in family puja typically to Lakshmi– the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja (prayers), fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends.

Kirandeep Kaur, our Principal of Academics and her amazing team of teachers wanted to celebrate both of these important occasions with all of us. The art teachers decorated the Academic Hall specifically for this day and the students had a competition to create Rangolis, beautiful murals created with brightly colored powders. Teams of 4 to 5 had an hour to complete their creations with the materials that were provided. The students had previous time to work on their designs, so they knew already what they wanted to do. They were really good at coordinating how each one of them was going to participate to have a beautiful and artistic piece of art. Some of them did the first drawings with chalk, others collected flowers and leaves to add to it; placing the color powders was something everyone got the chance to enjoy and they did it gracefully and carefully.

All of their creations were truly wonderful and something to be admired. Three of them were selected as winners and the prize was a box of fine chocolates for each one of the participants. The first prize was for Amrit Bani Kaur, Siri Aadi Kaur, Adesh Kaur, Akal Dev Kaur and Manit Power Singh, the youngest ones, because they were so dedicated and for their age and did a really nice work. They created a beautiful flower mandala with the help of Meherpal Kaur. The second prize was for Ida Fleur, Dharam Kaur, Chandra Moore and Mieke Runge with the teacher Rashmi Sharma. Their piece was a stunning peacock. Third prize went to Hans Werner, Dev Suroop Kaur, Simarjit Singh, Simran Kaur and Ravi Nam Singh with the teacher Amrit Kaur. They created an amazing design of the Golden Temple.

After the Rangoli competition, everyone received Kheer, rice pudding with cardamom, as a sweet treat and finally each student got a present from Kirandeep and the teachers, who lovingly collected the funds together and created personalized mugs with each students name and an image of some of their favorite things.  It is part of the tradition to give gifts to your loved ones, and certainly we all love the students here at MPA!

We are so fortunate to experience this festivity and we feel truly grateful for Kirandeep and each and every one of the teachers and the local workers for sharing such a meaningful part of their culture with all of us as they do with their family members.

Enjoy the colors and the smiles in the photo gallery and Happy Bandi Chor Diwas and Diwali from Amritsar!