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Tag: Holidays series


Happy Diwali!

Today is the first day of Diwali, a five-day celebration of lights and of the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil. Happy Diwali!

Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs all over the world celebrate this holiday, each based on their own traditions. Sometimes likened to a “Hindu Christmas” rolled up with a New Year celebration, most scholars believe it originated as a post-harvest festival.

A beautiful display of rangoli and lights illustrates a wish for a happy Diwali.

In contemporary times, people celebrate Diwali all over the world, wherever Hindus, Jains, or Sikhs have dispersed. It is an important through Southeast Asia, notably Thailand. The “epicenter,” however, remains India.

The wide spread of the festival is notable, however. The Mayor of London last year called for it to be made an official national holiday, along with Eid. Click here for his clarion call to embrace diversity. 

Despite differing traditions and sometimes slightly different dates, there are several important elements in any Diwali celebrationFor me, that’s a happy thought for Diwali!


Diwali is a festival of lights. Here we see everything from a municipal fireworks display by the water, through colorful lanterns, to the small clay diyas of the season.
Clockwise from upper Left: A municipal fireworks display for Diwali; a Rangoli with burning diya lamps; festival lanterns; and more diyas on display.

The name “Diwali” actually means “a row of lights.” This is a celebration of light/goodness in triumph over darkness/evil.

Thus, lights–everything from the traditional little clay oil lamps called diyas to massive municipal fireworks displays–illuminate everything like it was Christmas on the Country Club Plaza.


Create Rangoli by drawing the design first in chalk, then filling in the centers of the shapes with colored rice, sand, or something similarThis is an amazing creative art form that all kinds of people create. Here are some designs, but if you look online there’s no limit.

These are only four of the endless possibilities for rangouli designs.
Here’s a collection of amazing rangoli created for Diwali.


Food is another essential ingredient for the holiday–especially snacks and sweets. Recipes abound, and the variety is endless. But breaking bread together is a universal value, and an essential part of having a happy Diwali.

Food is essential if you want to have a happy Diwali. Here's a sampling.
There’s a whole range of Diwali food. This collection offers a sample.

No matter how or where you celebrate, I hope you have a happy and prosperous Diwali.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Amonwipu Injad, via 123RF, for the beautiful “Happy Diwali” greeting graphic. I deeply appreciate the video from National Geographic, via YouTube.  Many thanks to the Express UK, for the images in the “lights” montage: of the fireworks, diyas on the rangoli, and the overview of diyas, via Getty Images, and also for the lanterns in lower right. The rangoli are from (upper left): Deepika Pant, via YouTube, and Express UK (for all the others). The montage of Diwali food is from the Food Network UK. Many thanks to all!

a round palm branch frames "Happy Sukkot!" the citron, myrtle, and willow artistically round out the four species of tradtion.

Happy Sukkot!

If it seems to you that there have been a lot of Jewish holidays recently, that’s because there have been. September through October is a busy time of year for our observant Jewish friends and neighbors. Tonight at sundown begins another holiday, one that’s been in preparation since Yom Kippur ended. Happy Sukkot!

a round palm branch frames "Happy Sukkot!" the citron, myrtle, and willow artistically round out the four species of tradtion.

Also known as the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot is, as one commenter put it, kind of a “picnic holiday,” because you eat outside in a little hut, and may even sleep outside in it. The production company BimBam even put together a take-off on The LEGO Movie to explain about the holiday (Don’t worry, it’s only about 4 minutes long).

I could see this having the makings of a fun, family thing to do. Indeed, there are guidelines made especially for parents, to help ensure that children will find the holiday special and enjoyable

But it’s not just a holiday for children. It’s clearly a ritual of faith that all ages can enjoy (and even ignorant Gentiles such as me can appreciate). The traditional greeting is “Chag Sameach” (“Joyous festival”), but “Happy Sukkot!” also works.

In this photo from 2018, members of the Beth Hillel congregation of Kenosha, WI celebrate Sukkot in a  tent-like sukkah with branches and decorations.
In this photo from 2018, members of the Beth Hillel congregation of Kenosha, WI celebrate Sukkot (Kevin Poirier/Kenosha News photo)

I’ve found online instructions for building a sukkah, using everything from concrete blocksto a prefab kit. Clearly, the tradition started in a hot, dry desert. But Jews live everywhere, even in places such as North and South Dakota and Minnesota, where they’re currently having winter-storm conditions

The weather forecast for Aberdeen, SD is a case in point that Sukkot isn't always celebrated in balmy weather. The headline on this 5-day forecast from the National Weather Service says, "Snow continues into Sunday morning, below average temps continue."

There was a blizzard in Denver, Colorado yesterday, for pity’s sake. How do you celebrate Sukkot in a blizzard, I wondered. Since there is nothing new under the sun, I checked, and yes. There are Sukkot guidelines for bad weather. According to Shir Tikvah in St. Paul, MNthe way to celebrate Sukkot in Minnesota during a snowstorm is indoors

I also found an enlightening discussion from 2015 about what to do if a hurricane threatens on Sukkot. You might enjoy the dry humor of the full article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Not much to anyone’s surprise, weathering adversity seems to be something they take in stride.

So, to all Jews everywhere, wherever, and in whatever kind of sukkah you celebrate, however, I wish you a happy Sukkot! (and may you stay warm and dry).

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to bettystrange of 123RF for the “Happy Sukkot!” design, and to BimBam, for The LEGO Sukkot Movie. I also appreciate Kevin Poirier’s photo from the Kenosha News to offer a real-life example of a Sukkot celebration. The graphic from the National Weather Service is the forecast for Aberdeen, SD, as of the time I wrote this post.

Rosh Hashanah greetings of Shana Tovah!

Rosh Hashanah greetings

This post should go live a little before sunset in Kansas City on September 29, 2019, which is the beginning of this year’s Rosh Hashanah celebration, and the start of the year 5780. I’m happy to extend Rosh Hashanah greetings to my Jewish friends!

This image is full of the symbols of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and wishes everyone "Shana Tovah" and "Rosh Hashana Greetings!"
Shana Tovah! Have a good year!

As I understand it, Rosh Hashanah goes for two days, which means this year it will last until sunset on October 1Shanah Tovah (or Shana Tova, as Tatiana Sidenko’s calligraphic treatment above renders it), means “Have a good year!” This is the first of the High Holy Days, or Days of Awe (what a great name!), in the Jewish liturgical calendar.

I found a YouTube video from Inside Edition, which I thought offered a heartwarming introduction to the holiday. I hope you enjoy it, too (it’s about 3 minutes long).

May you have honey-dipped apples (if you’re not allergic), enjoy the warmth of family and community, and be written into the Book of Life for another year! And I hope you’ve enjoyed my Rosh Hashanah greetings.

IMAGE CREDITS: I owe thanks to Tatiana Sidenko via 123RF for the “Shana Tova” calligraphy, and to “tomertu,” also via 123RF, for the photograph of the assembled Rosh Hashanah symbols of flowers, apples, honey, and shofars. I also appreciate Inside Edition’s “Inside Edition Explains” video on YouTube, about the holiday. This post is part of my Holidays Series. The last series entry was for Paryushan Parva, at the start of the month.

with an image of someone meditating in the mountains, I wish you a Happy Paryushan Parva!

Happy Paryushan Parva

Here's an image of a person meditating on a mountaintop, with the greeting, "Happy Paryushan Parva. May I ask forgiveness if, knowingly or unknowingly, I was wrong in thought, word, or deed."

Today (at least, by some calendars) culminates Paryushana, the most holy festival of the year for Jains. It is a time for seeking a deeper level of spiritual intensity, through seeking forgiveness, prayer, meditation, and fasting. In honor of the holiday, Happy Paryushan Parva!

I have been seeking  greater understanding about participants in many major world religions during the latter part of this summer. I steadfastly believe that only through reaching out and learning about each other can we become truly respectful through greater understanding

Das Lakshana (Paryushana) celebrations at the Jain Center of America, by Aayush18. Happy Paryushan Parva!
Das Lakshana (Paryushana) celebrations, Jain Center of America, New York City (photo by Aayush18/Wikimedia Commons)

On this blog, that effort begins by offering greetings to worshipers of other faiths, for as many  major holidays as I can learn about in time to post about them. Building bridges of greater understanding is my key goal. One of the joys of this “holidays” project is that it gives me an opportunity to learn how marvelously varied we humans are–and also how consistent.

In our varied ways, we dig deep for greater spiritual understanding and expression. For Paryushana, as explained by Dhirendra Kumar, the Paryushan Parva is “celebrated annually for self-purification and upliftment,” and it “encourages Jains to observe the ten universal supreme virtues in daily life.”

And every holiday includes some means of reaching out to others–to fellow believers, to families, to friends. One favorite way is through gatherings and special meals. Here’s a sampling of Paryushan recipesin case you’d like to explore them.

Four yummy dishes for Paryushana! The Times of India shares recipes. Happy Paryushan Parva!
Foods for Paryushan Parva.

I’m grateful for a new opportunity to learn about Paryushan Parva today, and I beg forgiveness if I got things wrong. Happy Paryushan Parva!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Millenium Post‘s article by Dhirendra Kumar, for the basic art I used for my greeting graphic. I adapted it and added the greeting in Adobe Illustrator. Many thanks also to Aayush18 and Wikimedia Commons, for the photo of the celebrations at the Jain Center of America in New York City, NY. Please note the photo is by Aayush18 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. And finally I am grateful to the Times of India for its article that shares recipes appropriate to the holiday, and also contributed the photo of the food. I feel deep appreciation to all of you! And I wish you a happy Paryushan Parva!

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