Tuesday, December 30, 2008

That's My World Tuesday #11: Cary Diwali

Cary, NC - October 2008 (Click to embiggen)

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While I've mostly focused on the typical Western amenities and cultural events of my hometown area over the last several weeks, don't get the idea that we're strictly one-dimensional. Raleigh and the Research Triangle area have seen a major influx of immigrants from all over the world over the last 20 years or so, many of them from India and the Indian Subcontinent. They've brought with them the fascinating blend of cultures that makes up modern India, and twice a year the food, music, dance, art and ambiance of their homeland it prominently displayed at one of two events in Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheater.

Fall brings the annual Diwali festival which I featured in a Ruby Tuesday post back in October. When Spring rolls around, the same organizers put on Basant Bahaar ("Joyful Spring"), another festival which I have not yet taken the opportunity to experience.

I did, however, attend this year's Diwali festival. And while I really expected to stand out like a sore thumb, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of Westerners in attendance. When an event of this kind that is so closely married to the culture of a particular demographic actively welcomes people from "outside" only the best of things can result. It's not just an entertaining evening, it's a chance to experience a taste of how people live in another part of the world. Which I think is part of the reason that the local Indian Society, Hum Sub ("we all" or "all of us") co-sponsor the event with the Town of Cary. If you live in the area, or you're going to be in the area next October 10th, I highly recommend experiencing the festival for yourself!

If you're interested, you can read a recap of this year's Diwali from the organizers' point of view

Of course what's a festival without merchandising? In this case, the usual "grandstand seating" of the amphitheater was converted into a bazaar (open air market) where you could find jewelry, clothing (or fabrics to order clothing from) artwork, and other goods. Items and prices covered the entire range from the novel to the exclusive. Somehow I was able to reign in the diarrhea of the wallet I usually suffer at such events, possibly because I wasn't keen on trying to carry a bunch of stuff around while schlepping a backpack full of camera gear. I did, however, make one purchase which became the focus (no pun intended) of the Ruby Tuesday post I mentioned earlier.

"Henna Painting"
Cary, NC - October 2008 (Click to embiggen)

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It doesn't look like much right this minute, but these henna "tattoos" will be quite striking once the dye has set and the plant matter washed away. Henna, a plant based dye, is widely used for body art in India, and the hands and arms of a new bride are typically decorated with elaborate designs before her wedding. Unlike an ordinary tattoo, designs painted in henna fade over a few weeks' time.

"Chaiyya Chaiyya"
Cary, NC - October 2008 (Click to embiggen)

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I was just about to enter a tent that featured a photography exhibit by two well-known artists when I heard the familiar strains of the song Chaiyya Chaiyya from the 1998 Bollywood movie Dil Se. I can't say I loved the movie, but I do love the song, and I also loved the treatment this local dance troupe gave it.

Cary, NC - October 2008 (Click to embiggen)

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Once the locals had their hour in the spotlight, the pros took over the stage. This year the featured performer was the actress turned singer and VJ, Raageshwari. Each year the Cary Diwali brings in a major headliner from India, which is presumably paid for by corporate sponsors because there is no charge for admission. So no excuses, Raleigh... see you in October!
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babooshka said...

That's an incredible my world post for your part of the word. Such vibrant colours beautiful happy faces and interesting too. We will never me as mutliculteral here alas so I will never witness such an event here.

Leora said...

Sounds like you had fun...and the dancers look like they really enjoy this festival. Such wonderful colors.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy going to cultural festivals like this. Nice post.

Kimmie said...

My oh my...you surely do share things I know nothing about on your blog. Thank You for always educating, explaining, describing, detailing every aspect of what you post. It is amazing to me.

I loved these photos, especially the beautiful made neclace. It is stunning. Your life seems so full and exciting...so worldly. What a gift.

I have a little something for you over at my blog. :-)

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Fun post, Mojo! And very colourful!

imac said...

Fasinating post and photos - full of colour.

Anonymous said...

You're giving me some great material for my own photographic attempts, Mojo. I'll be watching for this festival in 2009. Thanks for showing me I haven't been everywhere in the Triangle area yet. :0)

Arija said...

Ethnic festivals are a great way for the anglo-phonic settlers to meet the rest of the world nd it's culture. Here one of the great draw cards is the food, Greek, Italian, German or from the Sub-Continent. People enjoy the food and take in the culture buy osmosis.
Very nice post with great pictures.

fishing guy said...

Mojo: An interesting post on this cultural exibition.

Lil Bit said...

Ohhhh, this looks like so much fun! Take me with ya to Diwali next time? =)

Judith said...

once again very colourful and exciting. Some of our neighbours who celebrated Diwali have left their lights up for Christmas too so our neighbourhood this year as also been very colourful. Happy New Year, Judith

D Herrod said...


Jedediah said...

Great post. I love the photo of the Chaiyya Chaiyya.dancers, beautiful.