During this holiday time, it seems that all Indians are celebrating in one way or another. On November 16th, the New England chapter of the Kashmiri Overseas Association (also known as KOA) had their annual Diwali party. KOA is a non-profit organization of Kashmiri Pandits with branches in The United States, Canada, and many parts of Europe. On major Indian holidays, each chapter of the United States organization sponsors a get together of all the Kashmiri Pandits in the local area
In the recent Diwali function that took place in Bedford, MA we had over sixty people, families with children and even young college students, gather for a night of pooja, traditional food and dancing. The pooja consisted of the basic prayers and a concluding arti. A local Kashmiri explained the significance of Diwali in Northern India and the Hindu mythology of the occasion.
The only true way to get typical Kashmiri food is to make it yourself. For that reason, the evening was a potluck festival of familiar dishes like Roganjosh (a red lamb dish), Chaman (Kashmiri syle paneer), hakk, Demaloo (small whole fried potatoes in Kashmiri sauce) and many many more. The evening's food was a testament to the saying that "there is nothing like home cooking." Kashmiri's normally do not eat meat on Auspicious day of Diwali but since the function was not held on Diwali day meat was permitted.
A cultural show culminated the evening with a display of the talents of the youth as well as adult population. The local Kashmiri school, Kashup Vidyala made a presentation of the meaning, traditions and legends of Diwali. They also sang typical Kashmiri songs and recited shlokas. Other performances included classical and folk dances, singing, recitations, and essays.
The evening was a night for people with a common heritage to come together as one and celebrate the bonds that they share. The Kashmiri culture is alive and growing all over the world, even in our very neighborhoods. Gatherings like this of people from all over India allows first generation Indian Americans to keep the culture of their ancestors alive and Indian immigrants to celebrate the culture they know as their own(Anjali Wali is a Sophomore from Billerica. In addition to excelling in academics she loves to involve herself in community activities. )
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