Someone sent a message today sounding a bit desperate and excited. They had been invited to a Diwali party but didn't know what to bring!
A quick lowdown on Diwali...
Diwali is the "festival of lights"- an ancient Hindu festival. It celebrates good winning out over evil and is one of the largest and most important events of the year. Indians celebrate with a gathering of families and lights: clay pot lights, lanterns, rangolis, fireworks, bonfires, etc. They also share sweets and worship Lakshmi- the goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity. We should all worship her! Men hug women, women hug men and overall you will take the cues from the family at the house where you have been invited. Be warned- you may be asked to remove your shoes.
What are some great Diwali hostess gifts for that party you were invited to? It is the "thought that counts" first and foremost, however, there are many ways to impress as well. Since sweets are on the top of the list we shall start there.
The gift of ghee. That's right and in this cute little container. Perhaps easy to find at your local co-op or health food store. Purity Farms Ghee is a delightful gift that will win over the chef of the house. $10.95 for a 13 oz jar. Shop here
Other ideas for Diwali hostess gifts are wine or liqueur (depending on the tastes of the host), olive oil, or flowers. These are all suggestions that can help you get creative and if it's last-minute you can pick up your local, handcrafted, artisan version of the above. Namaste.
Love and light!
There is no denying Diwali is one of the most beautiful and joyous celebrations within the Hindu faith. Diwali Day falls this year on October 30, but the 5-day celebration begins on October 28 with gorgeous festivities happening throughout.
Diwali is celebrated in honor of the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother, Lakshmana, from Lanka. It illuminates their path to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness or good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair (all concepts we love!).
When you add in the pageantry of the attire, the food, the coloured rice powder and flower floor designs called rangolis- and of course, fireworks – you’ve got yourself a full-on vibrant spectacle of hope and togetherness.
From Bollywood to London to Hollywood, Diwali is an over-the-top affair celebrated by Hindu’s, Sikhs and spiritually inclined people around the world. And, you don’t have to be a celebrity like Shah Rukh Khan, George Harrison or Julia Roberts (all practicing Hindu’s) to get into the spirit.
If you are unable to experience a grand affair at the Taj Land’s End hotel in Mumbai, on the Johari Bazarin Jaipur or at Trafalgar Square in London, chances are you are invited to an intimate home festival within your community. Here’s how to navigate the whirlwind of Diwali in style:
WHAT TO WEAR
You’ve RSVP’ed your eVite and are excited to celebrate, but what to wear? Whether you don an embroidered sari or kurta (for the men), or blend traditional Indian dress with more Westernized dress, the look is about splendor and grandeur. You can be as bold or demure as you feel comfortable (just be sure to cover your shoulders and legs), but traditionally, women adorn themselves with beaded and metal jewelry and lots of colour. Dark-rimmed eyes, deep berry lips (you can’t go wrong with Tom Ford’s Bruised Plum Lipstick) and bright manicures rule the make-up looks that balance the flowing silks draping their bodies. The look is exotic but always very polished.
The Beauty Look
Tom Ford Bruised Plum Lipstick at Nordstrom
Jewels to Celebrate Diwali
Polka Dot Saree-full of color!
Bhumika Arora Celebrates Diwali (Vogue)
WHAT TO BRING
Of course, you aren’t going to show up empty-handed, so what to bring? It’s customary to bring something sweet and alcohol is not typically consumed during this holy event, but you can be more Westernized and bring home-baked cookies, cupcakes or beautiful chocolates (did someone say Godiva?). Or, try a hostess gift like a sweet necklace that your host can wear every day to highlight her faith after all the pageantry is over. This little dainty elephant charm (referencing the Hindu God, Ganesh) is one of those gifts that you’ll buy one for her, one for you!
Or, go with the celebration theme of light and bring paper sky lanterns for you and the guests to release during the celebration (tip: probably best done separately from the fireworks!)
A gorgeous candle is always appropriate and ups your hosts good fortune quotient, as Hindu’s believe that the Hindu Goddess of Luck and Wealth, Lakshmi, visits the homes that are brightly lit.
Like any celebration, food is the core of joining guests together. Diwali does not disappoint – but you’ll definitely have to embrace your sweet tooth! Most often, Mums and Aunties prepare counters full of trays loaded with luscious delectables such as Gulab Jamun (here from Manjula's Kitchen)– a spongy milky ball of sweetness drenched in exotic rose syrup – or the divine and classic cardamom and saffron infused Kesar Peda alongside the colorful swirls of crushed pistachio and cashew nuts in Kaju Pista rolls.
Among all the beautiful Indian oil lamps and flowers, you will also find bowls overflowing with various dishes of spiced lentils called Dal, Masala made with chickpeas, and squash and vegetable curries to feast on. It’s actually overwhelming the amount of food, so if you have never celebrated Diwali and are joining in with friends – prepare for a Thanksgiving-type-of-day where you’ll be thankful you are wearing a sari and not jeans!
The shimmering décor, sweet and savory cuisine and gathering with friends and family make Diwali a social and warm celebration, but the various ceremonies performed during the 5 days of Diwali are what make it the spiritual beauty it truly is.
When celebrating Diwali in the United States – traditions may be altered to accommodate work schedules, but practicing Hindu’s always find a way to honor their faith during this brilliantly happy time. Some will indeed even observe Halloween with their young children to celebrate the country where they are raised while still embracing their heritage and religion. The point is that family and friends come together in gratitude and harmony to acknowledge all they have together and all the wonderful things still to come.
WHAT TO WEAR TO AN INDIAN WEDDING
You've just received your first invitation to an Indian wedding and a couple things pop into your mind: what do you wear and what do you expect? Be prepared for a colorful, lively event filled with family, a HUGE wedding party, lots of great food and amazing clothing, jewelry and tradition. Pretend VOGUE INDIA will be there to photograph this event and go all out (in other words don't be afraid of color and accessorizing)! Here's our suggestions...
First rule- not too much bare chest. Even though you may see stomach, these are still fairly religious ceremonies and exposed breast is a no-no.
The saree (or sari). This is like a long wide scarf or piece of fabric. Often goes around the waist and then up over the shoulder. Embellishment, specially in gold, is very much accepted (and desired!).
photo courtesy of veeshackshop
The lehenga. This is a long embroidered skirt. It is worn with a choli which is the midriff-baring top or blouse. With this outfit you would drape the saree over the top to complete the look.
photo courtesy of @indianstreetfashion
The salwar kameez. This is like a pantsuit and can be worn by a man or woman but the styling is different. The salwar is the pants and the kameez is the shirt or tunic. For women it's a bit more subdued and hides flaws better but you can still have fun with color and styling.
photo courtesy of Ethnicyug
The jutti. Both women and men wear these colorful embroidered slippers. Love these shoes! The come in many styles and colors so have fun with these.
photo courtesy of @turboozeshop
Accessories. Bindis- the dot in the middle of the forehead. Can be from paint or a stick on rhinestone type embellishment. Choora- the layers and layers of sparkly bangle bracelets. Payals- jeweled anklets. You can't go over the top here. More is BETTER.
If you are attending a muslim or sikh wedding you may be required to cover your head with a scarf so good idea to bring one as well. Many weddings now provide these for their guests.
The sherwani. This is a long tailored jacket. More dressy and worn on occasions such as weddings.
photo courtesy of @rimple_harpreet_narula
photo courtesy of @walklikeamaharaja
The kurta pajama. This is a long tunic which is usually lightweight fabric and worn with a lightweight pant that's usually tapered at the bottom. Comes in lots of colors and embroidered.
photo courtesy of @koleksibajuraydantunang
The mojari. Similar to the jutti, an embroidered and embellished slip on shoe.
photo courtesy of @mojaribazar
They too have the pick of lehenga, kurta pajamas, salwar kameez and saris to choose from. Don't leave the kids out!
photo courtesy of Ed McMahon
WHERE TO BUY
www.vamadesigns.com - San Jose, CA
www.dreamscollections.net - Artesia, CA
www.craftsvilla.com - online
www.khajananj.com - New Jersey
Cover photo from Jen Lynne Photography.
The mung bean soup cleanse is easy and tastes similar to lentil soup. Mung Beans have been a part of a traditional Ayurvedic diet in India for thousands of years. Mung beans are considered the most cherished foods and they are Tri-Doshic, meaning that they can balance all three doshas, the three energies believed to circulate in the body and govern bodily activities, especially when cooked with spices appropriate for each dosha.
Meet Eric Wright- the hippest, most patient, all knowing DJ that exists. He makes everyone happy and he keeps them dancing. He so kindly answered all of our questions when we desperately wondered, "How do you DJ an Indian wedding?" We had heard there were a lot of moving parts and we know Eric makes everyone happy so read on for his magic touches.
Confessions of a Wedding DJ
HI Eric! ok so you are a MOST WANTED DJ, booked all the time.
What would say is your best attribute as a DJ? I always call myself a chameleon because I feel I can adapt to any musical situation. The dance party is not about me, it is about my client and what mood/genre/energy they want to create. Before each event I always want to have a ‘details meeting’ so I can find out what music makes my client happy and then put that info together into a cohesive mix. Of course the best laid plans can change as I always say the crowd informs you pretty quick as to what they (as a group) want to dance to. Flexibility is the key!
Were you raised with any particular faith? My family is of the Episcopal faith and I sang in the choir and at age 12 became the organist for the church. My mom has a great story of me slipping off the organ bench and hitting the foot pedals during a service, needless to say it woke the entire congregation up!
Does faith influence your life in any way now? If not, do you believe in any ‘higher power’ or tree gnomes or anything like that? I absolutely believe in higher powers, there is a definite energy connecting us humans to the stars, the land, and the cosmos.
Let’s get to the really exciting point for us, which is DJ-ing for an Indian wedding. We know there are many nuances to families and traditions, and Indian weddings certainly are amazing productions. Can you give us some insight on how you manage to make people happy and at the same time work without sleep for 3 days straight and put out incredible music? For the best success, take LOTS of planning, add some more detailed planning and then add an enormous amount of shared information. I absolutely love performing for Indian weddings, the music and the energy is pure celebration! The Welcome Night party is full of food, a reunion of family and friends, potential song and dance performances plus upbeat dancing. The Wedding Ceremonies combine traditions of the past and present, and they not only combine 2 individuals but combine 2 families plus extended families. The Wedding Reception is a glorious mix of vibrant colors, rituals, food and of course music. The best word I can use to describe the reception is FESTIVAL.
Do you find that an Indian wedding likes a blend of Western music mixed with traditional? Is there a Bollywood influence? It depends upon the couple and their desires. I have done exclusive Bhangra (a type of popular music combining Punjabi folk traditions with a fusion of pop music) and Bollywood (a high energy form of dance from the world of film) dance parties and then have performed at receptions that also include Western music. On several separate events we have done one night of Indian music and the next night all Western music and or a combo of both. If the reception is one night I feel the combination of Indian and Western music is best because guests do like a certain amount of “comfort zone” from their dance music.
Are there hot songs by Indian artists right now that most American people don’t know but should? YES - try the song RADHA from the “Student of the Year” soundtrack. LONDON THUMAKDA from “Queen” soundtrack. A great entry song is the popular song JAI HO! which had a crossover hit on USA radio. PATIALA PEG by Diljit Dosanjh is a current Bhangra hit.
Where is the most unique spot you have traveled to DJ an Indian wedding? Travel-wise, two of the biggest productions have taken me to Los Angeles and Palm Springs, California. They were both in the 400-500 guest count, elephants brought in the bridal party, dance troupes and musicians were flown in from Mumbai, and the clothing and jewelry were on a scale I had not seen before; at one wedding there were racks and racks of cultural clothing for the guests to add to their outfit.
Learn more about the life of a wedding DJ at Eric's Facebook Page: All Wright Music. For a taste of Eric's favorite Indian dance tracks, check out the following
5 Dance Favorites:
- De Dana Dan by AD Boys
- Ek Dana by Daler Mehndi
- Dance Basanti from Ungli
- Chunari Chunari by Anu Malik & Abhijeet Anuradha Sriram
- Dafa Hoja by Foji & Miss Pooja
Thank you thank you Eric Wright! LOVE the idea of racks of clothing and accessories for wedding guests- how fun. Hmmm, might have to write more about that later...