Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Happy Deeparaya

Even though Deepavali is an Indian holiday and Hari Raya is the end of Ramadan for the Muslims, last Saturday night our nearby community center hosted a Deeparaya celebration for both holidays. Our neighbors (also Americans) invited us to join them.

Upon entering, it was clear that we were the only white faces present and that this fact was of great interest to others. We were led to the second row of seats marked "reserved." My friend Karen and I discovered then, much to our dismay, that the advertised "buffet" was going to happen after the celebration, which began at 8 p.m. I'm at "eat around 6" kind of girl, so I wasn't thrilled by the thought of eating at 10 p.m. Her husband ran out and nabbed some peanuts for us.

The evening was quite entertaining. It had the community center feeling, where it seemed like the event planners were making some of it up as they went along, and the range of quality of the performers was pretty big. One girl sang twice in the traditional Indian voice, with her typed out lyrics held a few inches from her face. Another guy sang a few songs in Malay. He had a great, soothing voice - almost lounge singer like but not in a bad way. I told Erik the first song sounded like how I imagine a James Bond theme song would be in Malay. You could tell he was loving being on stage.

They had a few dances - some traditional Malay, some Indian. The Indian dances were performed by a girl who looks to be only about 10 but has been professionally dancing this traditional kind of dance since she was 7 (started learning at 4). It was fascinating to watch, especially because she had amazing facial expressions and the largest eyes I have ever seen outside of a cartoon character.

One of the most entertaining parts though was the parade of children age 4-9 competing in a costume contest. So beautiful! Pictures and hopefully video of the Indian dancer soon to come.

We were treated almost like honored guests after the celebration. They led us to the front of the buffet line (which mercifully started at 9:20) and several people came over and asked how we liked it. I'm glad we went - it gave me a glimpse into the Indian and Malay cultures that I would probably never just run into on the street.

1 comment:

Gina Marie said...

I don't know. They weren't unusually long or anything. Probably about 5 minutes each.