Happy Diwali from San Diego
We had one of our big Diwali celebrations in San Diego on October 15, 2016. It was the Festival of Lights held at Balboa Park. It was a fantastic event, yet again. This year it was special, because as well as dancing, we had singing, and there was a world-class singer who entertained us, so it was truly magnificent. His name is Aditya Rao, and apparently he has won several awards, and has appeared in several videos like the one below:
Here he is performing at Balboa Park, and he’s also seen in this video that I made
Here is a video that shows the lighting of the lamps display, and the women carrying the lamps during the lamp parade.
Here is a video showing Punjabi music and specifically, Bhangra at the Festival Of Lights….spectacular!
Here are more photos showing Aditya Rao, and the performances that he was part of.
Here are some other pictures taken at Festival Of Lights
These are the lamps on display. I have never taken pictures of the lamps before as I always get a seat, and never venture towards the lamps, but this year I did, and I’m glad!
Here are some of the other performances
One of Aditya Rao again, with the main presenter
Here’s little Chandra having fun!
This is Aditya Rao standing with the main organizers and this is just prior to the Indian Anthem being sung
President Barack Obama graced Diwali at Balboa Park with his presence, even though it was just on screen. He wished us a Happy Diwali! This was ever so nice, just to see President Obama in Balboa Park!
I really love going to the Festival Of Lights, as I enjoy seeing the performances, seeing Balboa Park again, seeing the stage graced by beautiful dances in clothes that sparkle, and then of course the lights tinkle! I also enjoy eating the Indian food that is available from many of the vendors who participate in Festival Of Lights. This year I got samosas, chicken saag and rice, and gulab jamun – that was two trays of food for me and Chandra, which included passion fruit juice for her and a nice cup of Pumpkin Spice Chai that cost just $9. You can’t beat that price!
I hope you enjoyed my pictures of the Festival Of Lights, and I hope you all have a truly beautiful Diwali. May light conquer over darkness, may good prevail over evil, and may we all experience peace, joy and prosperity on Diwali, and in the year ahead. Happy Diwali!
Christmas Eve In Las Vegas
I’ve spent New Year in Las Vegas, and summer in Las Vegas, but not Christmas in Las Vegas, so last Christmas we tried it, and we liked it!
There are less crowds in Vegas in Christmas, than there are at New Year. Also, when it’s New Year, it’s just not the best place for kids in all that noisy, raucous Vegas celebration – what with the drinks and the drunks, and well…..let’s say I think Christmas was a little more mellow in Vegas.
Have you ever associated Las Vegas with Christmas? Or have you ever even considered it to be a good place to celebrate such a joyous occasion? Well, I think our Christmas in Vegas in 2015 was spectacular, partly, because we found a beautiful church to celebrate Christmas Eve in. I am Sikh, but I like all kinds of churches, temples (including Hindu temples, as well as Sikh temples) and have even enjoyed visiting Mosques or at least taking pictures of them, see this link. The church we visited is an Italo-Greek Byzantine Catholic Church called Our Lady of Wisdom, located on 2120 Lindell Road, Las Vegas, NV 89146, only about 5 minutes drive from the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard. It is such a truly beautiful, spectacular church, and is very European looking – I could not believe I was in the USA while I was in this church, it was such a wonderful feeling that the church gave me. Here are some pictures:
I managed to get my two daughters in the picture
I don’t really think I was supposed to be taking pictures at the church, but I think it was too beautiful to not take pictures. I would love to be at this church every Christmas Eve, too bad it’s not in San Diego!
Happy Diwali! I’ve had some sad news recently, so it’s hard to get into the mood for celebrations, but celebrate we must. Most of my celebrations shown here, took place before the recent sad event, so I am just sharing with you as a way of trying to get over some of my pain. As you may know, Diwali is known as the Festival Of Lights, and it signifies good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. May Diwali shine it’s light on my family, and yours. May the Goddess Lakshmi shower us with her love and blessings. If for some reason, the link does not take you to the gif image of Lakshmi, you may see it here on my Pinterest Board.
Here are some pictures I took at the Diwali Mela in San Diego on October 24, 2015:
There were ever so many people there, these two pictures will give you a glimpse at part of the crowds, both during daylight and at night – it was packed!
These girls had a very interesting costume, especially the head gear, but it certainly looked nice and colorful!
Here, they are dancing with the dandia sticks. It’s a South Indian dance I believe.
There were all kinds of dances, even hip hop!
Also, there were American girls dancing to Bollywood music. I think they did a pretty good job.
Here’s a video of their dance:
Here is a video that includes a variety of the performances.
Unfortunately, I could not include all of the performances or show the entirety of each performance. I hope you like the videos, and I hope you like the pictures.
I also hope you will candles, and illuminate your home with just candlelight later this evening. Remember, let light prevail over darkness.
Don’t forget to eat some Indian food – how could you not when it’s Diwali! I have some virtual food and drink just for you! Here’s naan bread with lentils, chicken curry, rice and raita (Indian yoghurt).
I love samosas, you can’t enjoy Diwali without samosas, or at least I think so.
You might even want to have a special dish of mine – my very favorite, and of course it’s a Punjabi dish – Makhi Di Roti (bread made from corn meal/corn flour) and Saag (spinach)! You must give this one a try!
After this, you must have sweets. You must have burfi (can’t even describe how delicious they are – Indian fudge is the closes I can get to it, and oh, how I love fudge!). Then there’s gulab jamun (syruppy goodness) and jalebi (sticky and syruppy goodness).
You might want to try kheer, which is basically a delicious rice pudding dish – it is a little less sweet than the jalebi and gulab jamun. Sorry about the quality of this picture.
Want more sweets? I knew you would!
Then, if you’re like me, you’ll have to wash the sweets down with a delicious cup of chai.
Now, hopefully that was a nice Diwali, some pictures, some entertainment, some food, some sweets and some tea!
Guess what? For the first time ever, we have been given the day off for Diwali in the USA and they didn’t even know they were giving us the day off for our special holiday! They thought they were giving us a day off for Veterans Day, well….I am very glad that we have Veterans Day! Thank you to all those who served, and made this day possible so that we could all be off together, and celebrate away from work! Please can we make Veterans Day next year be on Diwali too? Please? I don’t think it will happen again, as Diwali is on different days, sometimes in October, and sometimes in November. Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask or wish for it…….please, let it be on a holiday again, or better still – give us Diwali off (wishful thinking)!!! Anyway, must go and enjoy Diwali now. Happy Veterans Day, and Happy Diwali!
Indian Independence Day Celebration in Los Angeles
The Indian Independence Day anniversary this year on August 15th, was the 69th one since India got it’s independence from the British. I had a day off from work on Friday, 14th August, and already showed you Day 1, which we spent mostly in Artesia – LA’s Little India. I love visiting Artesia. Here at home in San Diego, we also have a Little India in the Black Mountain Road area of Mira Mesa, but I do enjoy going to Artesia from time to time.
Day 2 of our little mini-vacation started off at Knotts Soak City, which I already showed you in another post, and now I will show you more pictures of the actual Indian Independence Day Celebration in Artesia (part of Los Angeles).
These pictures were taken towards the end of the evening, and show Bollywood star Raveena Tandon on the stage. The first picture shows when she was lighting a lamp as part of the day’s celebrations.
This picture shows the lighting of the lamp a little bit more clearly
This picture just shows Raveena looking very elegant, and beautiful on this great day.
My daughter Niki and I got to the event at around 5:45 pm, and we thought we were late. We were relieved when we found out that it hadn’t started yet, so we walked around. Here is Niki enjoying having the day off from dancing and being able to watch her friends peform instead.
We walked around and looked at all the wonderful food, I really should have taken more pictures of the other food stations – there were so many. This picture shows Pani Puri. I remember we used to have these back in England, and called them Gol Gappa, not sure if I am spelling that properly. They would puff up a lot sometimes while they were fried, and when they came out of the fryer, we would delight in poking a hole in them, and would pour tamarind sauce in to the hole in the center, and oh my gosh, that was one of the tastiest treats ever! They don’t make them here, like my Grandma made them back in England. We used to eat them right after she fried them, and they were so yummy! I think Pani Puri are just the same as Gol Gappa, but I do have to question it as they don’t taste as good as my Grandma’s Gol Gappa! I think Gol Gappa might be the Punjabi word for Pani Puri.
Oh, I have one more picture of another of the food stations
I had a sample of some great chai! Oh, how I love chai! This one was just the way I like it – piping hot and made with chai masala. I ended up buying some mixes as when I am home, I just make tea the English way by brewing it in a cup, and can’t be bothered going the extra step and making Indian tea (chai) properly. However, when I go out to Indian restaurants, I love to drink chai – I want my proper Indian tea then!
After we wandered around for a bit, it was time to see some performances. It started off with this little boy dancing. Oh, he was so cute. You can see him and the others who performed in the video, directly below his picture (excuse the hand that got in the way).
Please do watch my video of the Performances, this was the main event of the celebration, and of course, the star of the event was Raveena Tandon.
Then there were more performances, here is an assortment of pictures:
Did you know there was a Congressman in attendance? Yes, there was. Congressman Ed Royce (R) serves the 39th Congressional District in Orange County and eastern Los Angeles. I made a video of him too, but did not add it to the Performances video!
Some more pictures of the performances
Then, guess what another great thing happened at this event, they had a great sale and all clothes were only $1 each. Yes, you read it right – just $1 each. I bought seven items and it was so worth it.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my pictures, and the video of the Performances. In case you haven’t yet seen the video that I made of when Raveena Tandon was made upset, here it is:
Indian Independence Day in Los Angeles, CA – What A Memorable Occasion!
Indian Independence Day in Los Angeles, CA was a very memorable occasion. Why do I care about Indian Independence day? Of course I do! I am Indian, and even though I was born in England, I know my roots. August 15, is India’s Independence from the British. It might seem strange for some of you that I have an allegiance for India, and celebrated it’s independence from my other country. All I can say is I love England, and I love India, and now of course, I love the USA. I am very grateful though that the British gave India back. No country has the right to rule another.
We went to LA and stayed overnight for two days to celebrate my son’s birthday at Knotts Soak City, and then went to visit Artesia (Little India), and get my share of Indian culture. Oh, how I love visiting that area, and having a buffet lunch somewhere, followed by another visit to a smaller place to have Indian sweets and a cup of chai.
Well, imagine my delight when someone told me there would be a parade for Indian Independence Day the next day on Saturday – this was perfect, since we were in the area anyhow. I vowed to visit it, and furthermore, my daughter told me that her group was going to perform, and she wanted to see them. She took the day off from dancing this time, I think it was because I told her not to plan anything this weekend – since it was her brother’s birthday. She knew Raveena Tandon was going to be there in Los Angeles, but she didn’t realize that she was going to be at the same event or that her friends were performing at the same event as where we wanted to celebrate Indian Independence Day. Little do we know! So, when she said “Mum, the event that you want to go to is the event where my friends are performing, and where Raveena Tandon will be!” I thought perfect. Even more of a reason to attend! You may not know about Raveena Tandon, but she is a big mega-superstar, a Bollywood actress with many hit movies. She is an icon of Indian cinema.
So we got to the event at around 5:45 pm. I’m pretty sure she told me that one of her friends was supposed to be performing at 4:30 pm, and her group was going to be doing their dance at 5:30 pm. She was kind of upset that we might have missed it already when we got there and saw that practically all the seats were empty. We didn’t realize that the event had not started yet, we thought it had just finished. When I asked someone if it was over, she told us that it had not started yet, and we were so relieved. We wandered around, had samples of delicious chai and saw all the food vendors, and clothes displayed for sale. What a fabulous event, I thought – even before it began. Later in the evening, I tried the food.
Raveena Tandon arrived a little later than expected, and of course I captured most of her presence on the stage. Here are some pictures. You know I like taking pictures and videos! Here are just some of the pictures:
You will not believe what happened next at this great event. Well, someone made her upset, and of course I captured it, and I didn’t even know what was happening, as I was busy looking through the lens, and knew that something was brewing. Anyway, long story short, Raveena has seen my tweets of the videos, and apparently is happy that I posted the videos as they show what happened.
Here’s the video of where Raveena was upset:
I just wanted to give you some context of what is about to appear in my next post as for the first time ever, there will not be a single picture in that post. Also, I will not be introducing the Indian Independence Day event, the significance of it, or anything of that matter. That is why this post is being published first.
The organizers are called UFICA, and they responded to her tweets about their version of why the ending was not the way this great event should have ended. They publicized their letter on Twitter, and Raveena and her manager have asked me to publish their letter. That is coming up next.
I do want to say that no matter what – I really enjoyed the event, and I say that in all sincerity. There are always two sides to the story. Also, to read more about the event click here: http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/raveena-tandon-ed-royce-grace-fia-ufica-independence-day-event/article_4e45b512-46ae-11e5-8384-ebe722be66ec.html
Want A Recommendation For A Great Indian Restaurant In San Diego?
Indian food generally does not taste that great here in Indian restaurants in America. I think part of that reason is that Americans are not as used to Indian food as let’s say people in the UK are. There, the Indian restaurants are spectacular. They’re not afraid to make the food spicy there, and don’t make it bland to cater to other tastes. Also, where I grew up – we used to invite our English neighbors all the time to events, or even to our homes, and give them a taste of Indian food – which they seemed to love. Everyone seemed to know what a samosa was or what a chapatti or naan bread is.
Alas, over here, not only do people not know about Indian food, the food generally is more bland, and I believe it is that way because it caters to American tastes. There are exceptions – there’s a great place that I go to that is not that fancy, but it has really good Punjabi khadi – one of my favorite dishes. Then there are other places that if you eat from the menu, and not from the lunch buffet – the food can have more flavor.
Well, now I am happy to report that I found a great Indian restaurant that just opened up. It’s the Royal India restaurant on Miramar Road in San Diego. The food is tasty, and even a little spicy as it should be. I knew I had to go to this restaurant fairly quickly from it’s opening, and I’m so happy that I went there yesterday. Here are some pictures.
This picture came out a little fuzzy – by the way, I took all the pictures with my smart phone – my Note 3.
Okay, so first thing you have to do when you go to an Indian restaurant is start off with some appetizers such as samosas or pakoras, both fried – but very delicous. Pakoras are vegetables, and spices that are encased in a batter that is fried. Samosas are pastries stuffed with spiced potatoes, and vegetables. I absolutely love samosas, and sometimes rate the restaurant based upon it’s samosas.
These samosas were fairly good, but the sauces were the best. There was a tamarind sauce that you just always have to have with samosas, and a mint chutney, a mango chutney, and a Royal India house chilli sauce. Oh, my gosh…..these sauces were all delicious, and when I finished the appetizers – I had to spoon up the sauces until my plate was clean!
I wish I had taken a picture of the buffet station with all the main entrees in it, but I didn’t, so all I can provide you is my plate piled high with delicious food – there was chilli chicken, chicken curry, two kinds of rice, saag (spinach) which I absolutely love, lentil curry and sholay or channa daal (chick peas). Of course there were other items that I could not put on my plate – such as chicken tikka masala, lamb kheema, and a few other dishes. They brought baskets of naan bread to the table – one had plain naan, and one had garlic naan – this is not usual that you get two assortments of naan at a buffet, so it was quite nice.
Chandi loves fruit, so she was eager to get to dessert, and loved the fruit salad.
I loved the Gulab Jamun which is a delciously sweet dessert – very sticky and syruppy is all I can say!
But, I had to get a little of the mango mousse (which was delicious, the kheer (rice pudding with milk) and a bit of the fruit too.
Then I felt like Royal-tea (literally) when they brought me the chai – I love to have tea made the Indian way – perhaps I should save that description for another day.
Niki and Luca loved it here too, as did Chandra shown in our family picture towards the bottom.
Here we all are after our stomachs are full.
This restaurant is really classy, and very elegant. It has chandeliers, and a bar!
It has separate rooms which you can book for your parties, and they also do Bollywood events and hold functions here. In fact, we were told about a Bollywood party that is going to be taking place this Friday at 8:30 to 1 am. I am tempted to go as I do like Bollywood and also Bhangra. Look at this beautiful room which is off to one side from the main dining room.
This place is really big – I think I heard it holds up to 561 people, and it has ample parking. I
I felt right at home here, and loved the music playing in the background. It was music from popular Hindi songs without the words – very classy. I can’t wait to go back to Royal India, and will definitely try one of their Bollywood events soon. I’m pretty sure they will hold a Punjabi Dance Party similar to one that I attended in the UK last year. Here’s my video of that just incase you want to see it.
Well, here’s to Punjabi dance parties and to Bollywood parties, and also to Indian food. See you next time.
Happy Diwali from San Diego
Happy Diwali from San Diego again! This time the festivities took place just outside the Shri Mandir at the annual Diwali Mela on Black Mountain Road in Mira Mesa (about 15 minutes north of downtown San Diego). The 2012 Diwali Mela in San Diego was held on Saturday, October 27th.
First, some pictures:
Incase you didn’t see my pictures of Diwali at Balboa Park in San Diego, here are three more:
Now for a video where I put a few clips together, but there are many dances that I did not capture unfortunately. I also had to cut out a lot from the dances because of background noise. In this video, first you will see a Punjabi dance – Bhangra (one of my favorites – especially since my family is from the Punjab), then you will see a dance from Rajasthan, and then another few clips. At the end of this video, you will see some little kids dancing to Kolaveri Di, which is a cute song that turned out to be very popular, and even my little Chandi sings to it whenever she hears it.
I really wanted to add some more pictures in this post of Indian sweets from a local place on Black Mountain Road, which is a great alternative to going all the way up to Artesia (about one hour and 15 minutes away from where I live). Perhaps, I will add some pictures later on – maybe even on November 13th – the actual day of Diwali. Just fyi – Black Mountain Road is San Diego’s Little India, and Artesia is Los Angeles’ Little India. I really do enjoy going up to Artesia, as there are more stores and Indian restaurants, but I am beginning to get used to our own Little India in San Diego, and love one or two of the places there, such as Ashoka The Great Restaurant, and Surati Farsan Mart (the place where I will get my Indian sweets from this year).
Here’s the video of the performances at Balboa Park in San Diego at the 5th Annual Diwali Celebration on October 21st. Here you will see dances from the many regions of India including Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. You will also see the Diwali Lights display towards the end of the video, and then a finale where everyone dances to Bhangra on the stage.
A new addition to this post – it is now November 12th, and I just got my sweets from Surati Farsan Fart, and here’s some pictures of the fantastic selections:
I just had to get some jalebis, these are yummy and so sweet (actually they have a lot of syrup, and have a great crunch to them)!
These two boxes have mango burfi in one box (second selection from the top left in the picture from the display selection – see above)
The second box has laddoo in them which can be seen more clearly in the picture below. Laddoo are the yellowish round balls in the first big box on the top shelf (on the left). These laddoo are absolutely delicious, and have raisins in them – they almost melt in your mouth!
I hope you like the videos, and pictures, and I hope you will celebrate in some way on November 13th – even if you light just one or two candles. Happy Diwali!
Happy Diwali and Happy Holidays from Balboa Park!
Happy Diwali, and Happy Holidays from Balboa Park! The holidays are just around the corner, and this is surely a happy time for everyone! I love the holidays, and I especially love Christmas (the picture below was actually taken in San Diego Zoo, which is adjacent to Balboa Park).
I also love Diwali, which is the Indian Festival of Lights celebrated by Indians of all different faiths, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and many others. Diwali falls on a different day each year, but that day will be either in October or November of the year. This year, Diwali will be on November 13th, but it was celebrated on October 21st at Balboa Park.
Diwali is a colorful festival, and it’s significance is rooted in several epics and stories. The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and is celebrated with lights, especially candles and diyas. People rejoice in the occasion, and have parties, and there is definitely a lot of Indian sweets being sold and consumed at this time. If you would like to know more about Diwali, you can read this article: http://festivals.iloveindia.com/diwali/diwali-significance.html or http://www.diwaliinlondon.com/whatisdiwali.html. To read more about this year’s Diwali Celebration and an article where San Diego Mayor Proclaims “Festival Of Lights” Day, click here: http://www.indiajournal.com/archives/30604
Here is a picture of the Indian sweets (they are delicious).
Here’s some pictures taken at the 5th Annual Diwali Celebration at Balboa Park. All the performances were held at the beautiful Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.
The night begin with the Indian National Anthem, and I have enclosed my video of this – now you will get to see a little more of the Organ Pavilion too.
Here is my video that shows a variety of performances that depict the many regions of India, therefore, you will see dances from Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Rajasthan, etc. You may be amazed to see there are so many variations of dance styles according to the region of India that the dance is from.
Here is my video of just one performance to show you a dance in its entirety, and this is the Rajasthan Dance.
These are some pictures of the performances
This picture doesn’t really do it justice, but this is when the Diwali Lights were on display, and it was a beautiful scene. All the women on the stage were holding trays with candles – Balboa Park was truly lit up!
In addition to the Annual Diwali Celebration where many Indian dances were performed, Indian dances are also performed during the December Nights outside the Houses of Hospitality at the International Cottages.
Here’s some pictures taken at December Nights, 2011. I will of course be taking more pictures at this year’s December Nights (I wouldn’t miss it)!
It does get a little chilly in the evening during the December Nights celebration, so you will definitely want to wear a sweater or a jacket. There is plenty of food on sale, including stalls selling food from all around the world, close to the Houses of Hospitality, and practically all over the park. If you are in the mood for fine dining, then you might want to check out the Prado on the Park Restaurant.
Here are more pictures of Balboa Park (all three pictures were taken a number of years ago, and were scanned in). It will definitely be time to take more pictures soon of Balboa Park!
This one was taken at the Botanical Gardens in Balboa Park
You may know or have heard of Balboa Park in beautiful San Diego…..if not, you need to visit it soon as it is a fantastic place to visit. This park is adjacent to the world famous San Diego Zoo, and Balboa Park is so much more…..it is highly cultural. It houses the International Cottages where you can visit the House of Scotland, the House of England, the House of Russia, etc., and try a sample of food that comes from that region. However, when it comes to the holidays, such as Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights) and Christmas (now called December Nights instead of Christmas on the Prado) – there is no better place than Balboa Park to celebrate in style! Not only can you enjoy a world class park in a world class city, but you can enjoy world class cultural arts and entertainment.
You can read much more about December Nights at http://www.sandiego.org/events/balboa-park-december-nights.aspx and at http://sandiego.about.com/cs/familyfun/a/dec_nights.htm
Looking for something fun to do this holiday? Why not come to San Diego, and come to our December Nights….it will be hosted on two different days: Friday, December 7 and Saturday, December 8, 2012. This is a fun event for all the family, and highly entertaining! Kick off the holidays in style!