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Diwali, Deepavali or the Festival of Lights, is a culturally important holiday in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Its origins have roots in the Hindu religion. It’s celebrated in October or November, falling on different days, since it’s based on the lunar calendar. The main night of the holiday falls on the darkest night of the month. Diwali represents the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and overall hope over despair. The festival is celebrated in many countries outside of South Asia. While it is a national holiday in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, it is also officially recognized in Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Vibrant South Asian is pleased to announce that we have added another cooking event on July 27, 2017.
We are partnering with Stir Cooking School again to showcase the many different Flavors of South Asia.
At this event, you will be cooking a delicious five-course meal while learning about South Asian cultures. A portion of ticket sales will go towards our mission of building libraries in South Asia and continuing educational programs here in Colorado.
On the menu:
Raita, Naan, Chicken or Vegetarian MoMos w/ chutney,
Lamb Vindaloo, Saag Paneer, and Kulfi Ice Cream.
Please note that dietary restrictions can be accommodated.
Please make a notation in the comments when registering for class.
A full cash bar is also available.
As with most traditions, the origins are rarely known or have many stories behind them. In South Asia, there are many traditions for gift giving. Culture and religion often influence gift giving across South Asia, regardless of global consumerism influencing these countries. When visiting someone’s home, the host or hostess may give you a gift on your initial visit to their home, especially if you are younger than them. In return, you should bring flowers or sweets as a token of appreciation for their hospitality. These gifts are commonly given to the head of the household upon arrival and you may notice the gift is received with both hands. It is also not offensive to ask close family or friends what they would like to receive as a gift ahead of time. Use bright colors for gift wrapping, particularly green, yellow, red or gold.
Today marks what would have been Fazlur Rahman Khan’s, a structural engineer who helped design some of America’s most iconic skyscrapers, 88th birthday. Khan’s most important contribution to modern day skyscrapers is his “trussed tube” system. Through his firm, Skidmore, Owing & Merrill, Khan’s design was first used in the Hancock building and then again in the iconic Sears Tower (Willis Tower today). This new system made it cheaper, safer and easier to build tall structures, especially over 40 stories high. His work shaped the way our cities look today.
Asha de Vos has committed her life’s work to saving a subspecies of blue whales that breed, feed and live in the northern Indian ocean. She calls them “the Unorthodox Whales” for the many different characteristics they have from blue whales, such as their feeding habits in warmer climates, they are about 1.5 foot shorter than other pygmy blue whales, and they don’t necessarily migrate long ranges for breeding.
She is the first and only Sri Lankan to have a Ph.D. in marine-mammal research. Due to lack of Marine Biology programs in Sri Lanka, she received her undergraduate degree, with honors, in Marine and Environmental Biology at the University of St. Andrews, UK, her graduate degree in Integrative Biosciences at the University of Oxford, UK, and finally her Ph.D. at the University of Western Australia.
Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters are an inspiration for South Asians around the world. Not only do they bring pride to India via wrestling, they are constantly promoting a healthy dialogue on breaking down barriers for women in a, historically, male dominated society.
Mahavir Singh is a renowned athlete who is the recipient of The Dronacharya Award by the Wrestling Federation of India. He is also known worldwide as an exceptional coach and currently is a senior coach for the Olympics. He has also coached his own daughters, Geeta and Babita, who took home the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014, respectively. His niece Vinesh who is also a gold medalist was also coached by him. More than his wrestling, Mahavir is celebrated as a father who fought for the rights of his daughters and showed his community that gender is not a gating factor to achieving your goals.
Born in a small village in India, his actions to coach his daughters in wrestling was not received with support. In many South Asian countries, especially in rural areas, the role of a woman is perceived to be a homemaker. Mr. Phogat did not accept this and his message to treat sons and daughters with zero bias between them has spread like wildfire around the globe. He believes that it was his duty as a father to ask his daughters about their dreams and help them achieve those dreams.
With the help of their father, Geeta and Babita along with their sisters have become role models for young women everywhere. Geeta is the first Indian female wrestler to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Recently, their story has been captured in the critically acclaimed Bollywood movie, Dangal, which stars Amir Khan.
To the unaccustomed eye, the medley of 1.7 billion South Asians spanning across six countries may look very similar. However, many different cultural practices, languages, and even religions make up this region. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism are some of the most widely practiced religions in South Asia.
While India and Nepal make up the majority of the Hindu population in South Asia, there exist many beautiful temples and places of worship in widely Islamic countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. Similarly, historic mosques, prominent Buddhist and Jain temples, one-of-a-kind Sikh gurdwaras, and amazing churches exist across all countries in South Asia.
Katas Raj Temple in Pakistan
As over one billion Indian’s celebrate India’s freedom from British rule on August 15th, we can’t help but think about how one man’s personal moment of glory dictated the date that will forever be a part of a nation’s history. The last viceroy of India, Louis Mountbatten originally declared that transfer of power by June 30th, 1948. However, realizing that a declaration of independence that far out would likely yield revolt and bloodshed, leaving little to no power for transfer, Lord Mountbatten moved the date up to August 15th, 1947. When asked why the date was chosen, his response was that he knew he had to choose a date in August or September, but then chose August 15th as it aligned to the date Japan surrendered to the allies in 1945. Coincidentally, during that time he was the Supreme Allied Commander of South-East Asia Command.
The Congress Party led by Jawaharlal Nehru had declared January 26th as India’s independence day and people continued to celebrate this day until the official independence from British rule. After August 15th, 1947, the process to adopt a constitution began and was put into place January 26th, 1950, celebrated as Republic Day.
Click here to learn more about India’s government system.
This year at the Olympics, Nepal is proud to have Gaurika Singh on their team. Gaurika is the youngest member of the national team at only 13 years old. Not only is she the youngest on the team, but she is the youngest participant in the Olympics. She brings the spotlight to Nepal despite leaving the country with her family at the age of two. Singh currently resides in London and attends the prestigious Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls and will enter the ninth grade after returning home.
She is a survivor of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last year. Nearly 9,000 people were killed in one of the worst natural disasters for the country and Singh was lucky enough to have survived even though she was in a five-store building at the time the earthquake hit.