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Fijians stick together

Mereseini Marau
Saturday, November 17, 2012

Last Tuesday was one of the very important dates in the Hindu calendar.

It was Diwali or the Festival of Lights.

It was the time where we reflected for the year gone by and hope for the best ones ahead.

This is the noisiest day of the year in India.

This Diwali was special for us.

Though we live in a place where Diwali originated from, we all thought of our brothers and sisters of Indian descent and offered to celebrate it with them, the Fijian way.

We wanted them to know that even though they were far away from their families, they have us here as their family.

Since most of us eat the Indian sweets from the streets almost every day, we wanted something different, we wanted sweets like the ones made in Fiji.

Our brothers and sisters volunteered to make our sweets and curries just like the ones they always see their mums prepared.

They made us peda, halwa, namkees, bhujia and aloo baigan curry and dhal.

They don't make lakri here in India.

Maybe they do, but I haven't seen any yet.

Since we were all busy the whole week preparing for our International Student Festival night held the night before Diwali or Chota Diwali as they call it here, we did not make puri.

We just resorted to our forever faithful chawal (rice).

On Diwali night, we all gathered at Malka Kanj up in North Delhi for our Fijian celebration.

We braved the loud explosions from the crackers and travelled to the North for our get together.

Everyone was dressed for the occassion.

Glittering kameez suits and colouful kurta were the dress code for the night.

Everyone was in the Diwali mood.

Fellow student Savneel Sangeet was our pundit during the puja.

For the three Diwali I've been here in Delhi, I've attended all the puja.

This is something I never did back home. India, being a secular nation has really taught me to accept and acknowledge all religions.

After the puja,hosts Aman Avisekh Kumar, Filipe Nayacalevu, Jasmine Narayan, Kaajal Kristika and Telei Savelio from Tuvalu served us with sweets.

It brought us closer to home.

Most of us started reminscing on their Diwali back in Fiji where we go to our fellow workmates or friends for the celebration.

We also included our friends from Fiji, not only students in our celebration.

And we had our friends from Uganda, Ethiopia and Belarus who were there to enjoy the night with us.

With the lovely sweets and the delicious curries we had, we were able to show our friends that true Fijian way of sharing.

Jasmine said that this was her first Diwali away from home and she missed her family.

But she was glad that her friends from Fiji came to their flat to celebrate Diwali with them.

We had a lot to eat.

Just like the Delhiites, we went to the rooftop with our firecrackers.

Nearly everyone in the neighbourhood competed for who had the loudest and the noisiest crackers.

Despite the crackdown on firecrackers in the national capital, the noise was still the loudest I could remember.

No Fijian gathering is complete without a kava session.

Everyone returned home braving the cold nights of Delhi with their stomachs full and their takeaways.

nMereseini Marau is a former journalist of The Fiji Times, studying in India.

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