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Diwali is the festival of light that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair.
Saturday 18 August 2018 breaks with cloud scattering across the sky with a little bit of a frosty bite to the air. However, we were excited to be heading over to the Diwali Shopping Festival media invite. Not sure what to expect, we walked in and were immediately met with a warm welcome by Monica Steyn from MS Publicity with a beautiful gift in hand as memento. We were made to feel right at home and we eagerly settled down to wait for the proceedings to begin.
It all started with the playing of India’s national anthem. I find it difficult to describe in words the beautiful melody that penetrated my ears. Closing my eyes I was transported to another world. Every image of India I have ever seen flashed across my mind’s eye. There was a definite and strong urge to sell all my belongings and visit the country the song was calling to mind.
Our charming and witty MC then kicked off the festive mood and we were entertained with an awesome mix of Zulu and Indian dancing by Africa Fusion. Every one of us, enjoying and clapping along to the beat as two cultures melt together in dance and music. You could clearly see the joy and pride in the dancers’ faces and it set the tone for the rest of the day as their energy infected us all.
Next came the tasters; of Chai tea and Pani Puri. Mind you, I live here in Durban and I have never had either! Shocking I know! The Chai tea consists of (amongst other ingredients) cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. The smell, and even the taste of it, reminds me strongly of Afrikaans melktert ‘milktart’ which was a delightful surprise. The Pani Puri is a delectable and crunchy, almost puff pastry like shell filled with mashed potato and dhania, flavoured water and a chili sauce. It was mouth wateringly delicious!
One of our guests also had the opportunity to dance with a lady from Africa Fusion, and after successfully completing the short number was shown how to dress in a sari! This is not a simple wrapping around of a lengthy piece of material ladies. There is definite skill involved in dressing the sari and truth be told, I will have to ask someone to lend a helping hand should I ever try it. The colours and patterns of the sari, combined with the beautiful jewellery that marks the traditional wear of the Indian lady, is simply breath taking!
The ladies in our group were also pampered in having their hands decorated with henna in the most beautiful patterns. Here you experience an artist at work. I had to force myself not to stare at him, mouth open, as it took him roughly 2 minutes per hand to complete the intricate designs! These designs vary significantly. However, all are dainty, detailed and feminine. The ladies were advised to leave it to dry, being ready to take off once it starts cracking and peeling. And our MC jokingly stated that according to Indian lore, the darker the outcome of the henna, the more your mother in law apparently likes you! Mmmmm.
Afterwards, the group was guided through the various displays of goods from traders and shops. It was like being transported to another world! The craftsmanship of the furniture is exquisite, not to mention the clothing for ladies, gents and kiddies. Your eyes are treated to rich colours and patterns everywhere you look, and the exquisitely designed jewellery tempts you to empty your purse. And ladies, the shoes!! You go weak in the knee and mentally pair them all with every outfit you have in your closet. I sent up a silent prayer that I wisely left my wallet at home!
This was a memorable day to be sure. Inspiring and eye opening. One does not always have the opportunity to experience another culture like we did that day. And for this ElZone once again thanks Monica from MS Publicity for the invite to attend. We definitely need more of these celebrations so we can get to know one another on a more intimate level than reading about each other’s cultures in magazines.
As our MC stated ‘from one culture to another’ as they opened their hearts and made us all feel welcome. It is not a day I would easily forget.