It's Diwali!

It's the Indian New Year- Happy Diwali! Let's go back to last Thursday...

Thursday 23rd Oct- "New Year's Eve"
After a day at work, I jumped on the tube and headed up to North London to my granddad's house. It's been a long tradition in my family that everyone goes there for Diwali. It's very close to the Neasden Mandir (the Temple- but we'll get to that) and it's a good central place for everyone to meet. We usually go to the Mandir in the evening for the fireworks show, it's ridiculously busy and crazy but it's fun 'cause you see long lost friends and family. But this year, we missed the fireworks and went out for a big family dinner instead.
Anyone who is Indian will relate: anytime you go out for a family meal, you go to an Indian! It makes no sense at all. So imagine you can shock at finding out we were going for Mexican, woo hoo! It was so nice to see all of my family, we had a great time but the best part was that we didn't have to eat Indian food!

Friday 24th- "New Year's Day"
I love waking up at my granddad's house: it's so familiar, it hasn't changed one bit for as long as I can remember. I wore this to the Mandir. It's beautiful but I hate wearing Indian clothes because they make you look so fat. The trousers are a "one size fits all" which I loathe and the top...well you can see for yourself how unflattering it is. It's a shame because the clothes are lovely but it seems like they are just made in a hurry. As Diwali is always around October/November time, the best advice I can give for wearing Indian clothes is, wear leggings under the trousers to keep warm and take a cardigan!

After breakfast, we made our way to the Mandir. The Neasden Mandir is absolutely beautiful. The marble was all imported and it's such a stunning building, so striking in the middle of London. It was built entirely from donations. There are security scanners to get in which seems so bizarre but I guess it's a sad reality. You can't wear shoes inside the Temple so something I've learnt over the years- take socks!!

The first area you go into is called Haveli. This is a huge room which has statues of the gods at the front and it's amazing because everyone donates food for Diwali which they place at the feet of the statues. It looks incredible. You aren't supposed to take photos but I tried to take a sneaky few so you could see how stunning it is. After Diwali people can come and collect the food and take it home, it's special as it's food that was meant as an offering to the gods.

In the Haveli as with the rest of the Mandir, the men and women are separated. Of course it's better to be a man as there's less queuing and you can get right to the front which the women can't. The Sadhus -these are the equivalent of Priests- aren't supposed to look at women so that's why the women get relegated to the back.

I didn't take photos in the main temple as  that's where you pray but after this we came back to the Haveli and sat on the floor for the Aarti. This is where you sing in praise of the gods. I'm not particularly religious at all but there is definitely something special about singing with everyone and praying together.
Aarti done and we went to collect our shoes. They put up a huge marquee outside in the car park and on one side there are little stalls where you can buy books and photos but on the other, it's all food! there are all kinds of Indian street food, you can get everything from samosas to pizza. Everyone stands and eats together and it's really social as you bump into so many people you know.





Of course my gorgeous nephews went for the most Indian option..!

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