Diwali, Anarkali, Festivali
Of the many Indian festivals that enliven the fall/winter transition, Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is perhaps the most widely known and celebrated. Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a major holiday in the Hindu calendar that celebrates the victory of good over evil. In and around homes worldwide, diyas (oil or ghee lamps) are lit to signify everlasting light. For many, the festival marks the beginning of the New Year as families don new clothes, clean their homes, and pray for prosperity. In addition to prayers, friends and neighbors exchange mithai (Indian sweets), families exchange gifts, and the entire community comes together to set off fireworks.
Apart from all the fun, Diwali is also considered to be the most auspicious day of the year. Many people will start a new business, make new investments, or make a major purchase like a new car or home on Diwali.
Diwali has always been my favorite festival. Growing up in India, I have fond memories of the entire family exchanging gifts; of personally getting new clothes; and of playing with my friends while munching on delicious treats at different houses all along our street. My neighborhood got together every year and threw a block party full of food, fireworks, and fun games that lasted all night. Diwali was one of those things I feared losing before moving to America. But, much to my surprise, I can still remember the Diwali Mela (fair) we attended in New Jersey- the booming sounds and stunning sites of the fireworks and dance performances, and the amazing smells of rows of food stalls. It was a little bit of home in my new home.
My memories of Diwali are never ending and deeply rooted, so I can talk about it forever. Every year I get excited to figure out what I will wear on Diwali, because as is our family tradition, each outfit can never be repeated on Diwali!
This year for Diwali, I am wearing an Anarkali that is very special to me. Given to me by my in-laws during my wedding, the suit has three components- a long flowy shirt (kameez) that's fitted at the bust but flares out dramatically at the waist; tapered leggings (churidaar) that closely follow the contour of the leg; and a stole (dupatta) that adds a pop of color. Rohit Bal, the acclaimed Indian designer known for his simple-yet-elegant style, incorporated a perfectly glam-but-not-gaudy golden foil print with a gold border when designing this Anarkali. It also has a unique band collar with button closure at the base of the collar and a matching stole to go along.
Anarkalis are known to be versatile and there is one for every occasion due to variety of color options and fabrics they can be made with. The embellishments can vary in each piece and there is always one for everyone to like and adorn.
Anarkalis go as far back as the Mughal Empire in India. (Read my post The Modern Anarkali to find out more about them).