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!
December Nights in San Diego
Time’s already flying by, and it’s February now, but I still haven’t shared December Nights, 2015 with you. Must hurry up, or it will be December again. Just my luck! I don’t want time to go that quickly. There’s no rush…..I will get too old too quickly like this – slow down time!
December Nights at Balboa Park in San Diego is always a fun event. It’s a two day extravaganza, and my family really enjoys it. This year we had to go without Niki, my oldest – since she has started college, and moved away. Still, it’s a fun event for kids of all ages, and adults alike, and I think I might love it even more than my kids do!
This year, we went early. Even though the even starts at 12 noon or so, most people don’t go until 5pm, as they like to be there in the evening when all the lights are on, as well as the Christmas tree at the Organ Pavilion. However, traffic is crazy and hectic, and so is parking. A few times now, we have parked at Petco Park, and then taken a shuttle bus from there to Balboa Park, but this time I wanted to park at the Zoo, and combine December Nights with a trip to the Zoo. So, we got to the Zoo at around 1:45 pm, and were easily able to find a parking spot. We spent about one and a half hours there.
We then took the short walk to Balboa Park – an easy 5 or 10 minute walk.
We first saw the Fountain area, close to one of the museums, and had a little snack, then walked past the Botanical Gardens area where the beautiful flowers, and Reflective Pond is; then we went to the Grinch tree, which is by the Old Globe Theatre, and actually spotted the Grinch!
We then went to see some of the performances at the Organ Pavilion, and since Chandra wanted to eat, we went towards the International Cottages area. When I heard Indian music, that beckoned me, and I was so glad I had allowed myself to be beckoned like that – because that became the highlight of my entire evening. I normally enjoy the Organ Pavilion area, and the Christmas songs so much, and enjoyed them again this year, but this time I allowed myself to actually wander away from the performances at the Organ Pavilion to experience more of what was taking place at the International Cottages area, and these are two competing performance areas – one on the big stage, and the other on a smaller stage, but equally powerful in performance. While one concentrates on performances that are mainly musical, and showcases instruments being played, and singers performing – the smaller stage at the International Cottages focuses on dance. The dance aspect is really entertaining, as you still have the music and the songs, but now have further entertainment too. I absolutely loved it, and my little Chandra got up to dance on the stage for the Grand Finale of the Indian dancing!
Here are two videos that I made – one shows the Grand Finale that Chandra was in,
and the other one shows a variety of performances, and dances that were performed. This includes the performances at the Organ Pavilion, and the Scottish Bagpipe Band, as well as the San Diego Chorus, and of course, the Indian dance performances which took place at the International Cottages.
I love December Nights, there is nothing quite like it!
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
Diwali Mela in San Diego – So Colorful!
The Diwali Mela took place in the Black Mountain Road area of Mira Mesa, San Diego on October 25, 2014. It was a packed-out event, and a great way to spend the evening. There were many performances to Bollywood songs, and of course at least one to Bhangra!
Here are some pictures, and at the bottom of this page, you can see some videos that I made. If there is one thing that should strike you from looking at the pictures is that Indian outfits are so colorful, as well as pretty!
Now, for a break away from the performances – just take a look at all the people, and there were more!
I tried a few different dishes including the Punjabi Karhi and Rice, one of my favorites – I should have taken a picture! I did take one of the Alloon Paratha – which were quite delicous (bread stuffed with potatoes and spices, that is cooked on a tava or griddle, and then smothered with oil or butter).
Now back to the pictures of the performers.
I hope that added some color into your day!
Here is the video showing the Punjabi dance:
Here is the video showing the Rajasthan dance:
Here is the video showing a variety of the performances, including the women’s fashion show and the men’s fashion show.
Don’t miss the performance towards the end of this last video showing a dance to Bang Bang – the Bollywood movie starring Hrithik Roshan, and watch out for the little boy in the audience who definitely has dance fever!
Diwali Mela, 2013 – San Diego
Diwali is always special here in San Diego, and this year was no different. First, we had the wonderful Festival Of Lights in Balboa Park, then we had the Diwali Mela just last weekend on November 9th. The Mela always takes place in front of the Shri Mandir on Black Mountain Road in San Diego’s Mira Mesa area. That’s also where one of my favorite Indian fast-food/snack restaurants are: Surati (see pictures of their yummy sweets right here). Here’s just a few pictures:
This picture was taken of the group in the video below, but the picture was not taken at the Diwali Mela, it was taken earlier in the year when they performed to the same dance:
Here’s my video of just one of the performances…..I hope you enjoy it.
The Magic of December Nights in San Diego
I knew December Nights at Balboa Park was going to be magical. There’s not a better way to kick-start the holidays than going to Balboa Park, and experiencing December Nights. What is/are December Nights? I wrote about it in my previous post, just click here to see More Info on December Nights (that post contains some external links with more information too).
Now that December Nights (which occurred on December 7 & 8, 2012) are over, there’s still plenty of reasons to visit the Park. The magical tree is still there, and so are the lights and the great atmosphere, and at least you won’t have the crowds to deal with. Here’s some pictures:
First the magical tree:
It gets even more magical – it opens up!
It changes color!
It changed color again!
This one is more fuzzier, because my camera’s battery died and I had to use my I-phone.
This one’s fuzzy too, but I’m including it because I want you to see the spectacle of color that was so beautiful during the December Nights concert.
Here’s the same color for background, but the tree has closed up
Now for a lighter shade of blue
And the last two of the tree at least!
Now for some pictures of the Park in the dark. Me and my family went to December Nights on both December 7 and December 8. Why miss out on the magic?
I believe this church now houses the Museum of Man
Today, I suddenly stumbled on a second picture that I took of the Church at Balboa Park, I thought I only had one like the one above.
Are you ready for more Christmas trees? Here’s another one at the Park, closer to the church shown above
Oh, my gosh! The Grinch was here, but Chandi didn’t want to have her picture taken with him, so I had to take it of someone else instead!
Even dogs like December Nights, this picture was taken with no flash, but it wasn’t very good, however, it will give you an idea of what the lights were like and how it really looked in the dark
The dog also has glasses, more clearly seen in the picture below.
It’s just so nice strolling through the Park, even in the dark!
Balboa Park was nicely lit up for the holidays
There were so many people there, you wouldn’t believe it. I think I read somewhere that there were at least 300,000 people.
Here’s the Botanical Gardens Building at night time bathed in a beautiful blue light
You can’t tell from these pictures just how many people there were in Balboa Park during these two very busy nights.
Of course, there were a lot of delicious choices for food, but I didn’t get to take too many pictures of the different vendors. Here’s one at least.
This fountain is near one of the many museums at the park, and is closest to the path to the San Diego Zoo.
The words “Happy Holidays” lit up one of the museums
Here’s a clearer picture of some people at December Nights
For some reason, I like this picture
I couldn’t stop taking pictures of Balboa Park at night, it is beautiful both at night and day
I didn’t quite get the picture above centralized, see how it looks below, still not right. It would have been perfect if I could have got both “Season’s Greetings” and the lighting on the wall on the right in just one picture balanced out better. Oh, well. I’ll have to make do with two pictures.
Now for where the reindeers are with presents laden on the sleigh
A different angle of the reindeers
Now, there’s the presents at the back (I guess on the sleigh).
Some more lights
Now, some more pictures of the amazing tree from a different angle.
And lastly, some pictures of the performers who entertained us at the site of the magical tree.
Just incase you don’t get the full flavor of what it’s like at Balboa Park during December Nights, I made this video especially for you.
I still haven’t had the chance to take more daytime pictures of Balboa Park, so in the meantime, you can look at these pictures taken by someone who linked to my post previously, so now I will link to his – so you can see his amazing pictures of Balboa Park: http://onecoolthingeveryweekend.com/2012/11/21/picture-tour-of-the-san-diego-balboa-park/
Oh, by the way, I went to the International Houses on the 8th of December and saw various cultural dances there, including Indian dances, but only managed to get a few pictures. Perhaps, I will put those in another post. Anyway, I hope you can see that Balboa Park is so magical when it’s the holidays. If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you, and if you don’t – Happy Holidays!