Search

The Vision of Iris

The World Through My Eyes

Tag

family

The Festival of Lights

The festival of lights, better known as Diwali or Deepavali is a celebration found in the Hindu culture that embodies light overcoming darkness. It was one of the most eagerly awaited celebrations on the Hindu calendar and is usually celebrated towards the end of October  or the beginning of November.

This celebration is full of happiness and love as it focuses on knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. In India, it has been known to be one of the most beautiful nights of the year as houses are lit with lamps and the night to celebrated by lighting fireworks. South Africa is also big on Diwali and we celebrate it in a similar way.

enhanced-buzz-31463-1447218462-5
A satellite image of India on Diwali

On Diwali, we wear our best clothes, we prepare by spring cleaning and renovating just to get our homes and families ready for this day. Our houses are decorated with lights (a lot like Christmas lights) from a few days before to bring in this special day in style.

As a child, Diwali was my favorite day. We got to take a day off school, we got to buy new clothes, new shoes and sometimes my mom even took us to get our henna and hair done at the salon. For some Hindus, this day was also the day we take part in a family prayer to the Goddess Lakshmi who brings good health, wealth and prosperity.

lakshmi3
The Goddess Lakshmi

Relationships, family and friendships are extremely important during this time. So we exchange sweets (known as Mithai) to our loved ones. Sometimes these can be homemade Indian sweets, chocolates and biscuits. This is one of the most eagerly awaited parts of Diwali. We go from house to house, visiting all our relatives and giving them a beautifully wrapped parcel of sweets.  We spend most of this day eating! It is the best part which is why people like my sister spends about three days of excessive gyming as most of our Mithai is made with TONS of fattening ingredients that makes it so good.

img_1419
My mom’s perfect parcel of mithai. Individually handmade and designed. She calls this her Bon-Bon option where she makes the usual sweets such as burfee or ladoo all into little perfect bite sized balls. 

 

Unfortunately, I have spent Diwali away from my family as I was at University. But this has never stopped me from decorating my own home, lighting my own beautiful lights, overeating my sweets and having a delicious dinner!

My mother is one of the most talented and creative people I know. She has always made the best Mithai and many people just wait to receive my moms parcel so they can indulge. Her love of baking promoted her to start a little business where she specializes in making these sweets for functions and celebrations. Her business has boomed over the last few years and I am lucky to enough to have received a HUGE cooler bag filled with her designer sweets!

img_1918
My morning tray. We prepare a tray in the morning to add to our prayer as an offering to the God’s. My tray was colourful and had some of my mom’s but sweetmeats. After the prayer is complete.

 

Although I didn’t get to spend this day with my family, I still managed to stick to old traditions and make this day a beautiful one filled with love, light and tons of food!

img_1942
Some homes have the tradition of making a milkshake in the morning called Bombay Crush. It is made with cardamom syrup or rose syrup and some vanilla ice cream. This is my version, and to accompany it I had Poli. Poli is a sweet pastry shaped in a half moon and filled with coconut and nuts. It is then fried n oil and enjoyed! I also decided to make some coconut macaroons.
img_1931
This is a lamp or better known as Dhiya in hindi. This lamp is a special one because it is lit the night before Diwali and placed at your front or back door. 
20161030_194224
The weather in Grahamstown was pretty bad on Diwali. It was cold, windy and rainy. So based on what my mom has taught me, I used little brown bags filled with sand to leave my lamps in. These lamps are usually tea lights.

20161030_194522

Maybe next year you could light a lamp and exchange some homemade sweets with your loved ones!

Almost there

IMG_0418vv

Finally I have been able to enjoy a stress-free week of my holidays! It has been great but I have also been a bit slack with updating The Vision of Iris. Now I have had enough, I am back and I have SO much to share with you all. This is the second last part of the Prague series as the last one will feature just the concert.

IMG_0470cc

This is from our walk towards Charles Bridge, it was so exciting because my dad and I navigated to all the places we wanted to go with our phones and nothing else. We watched everyone else move in swarms with tour guides, but we made it on our own. Charles Bridge was overpopulated and there was barely any space to move! We actually had to go through the bridge to make it to the Lennon Wall which we were dying to see.

IMG_0503ss

Although the bridge was just a by the way thing for us, the view from the bridge was obviously phenomenal!

IMG_0567bb

As we grew closer to reaching our destination, we found some beautiful sights and walls full of graffiti, this just made us more excited to finally see the wall!

IMG_0550kk

FINALLY! The Lennon Wall. The atmosphere around the wall was so serene and peaceful and it just made you feel a part of something out of this world. There was a man singing the Beatles oldies in front of the wall, it was surrounded by trees and people! It was so beautiful. There were people spray painting their names on the wall to leave their mark too, and at the end of the wall you will find a young man telling the story of this historical wall. To read more about the wall, click here.

PS- I mentioned this in my post about the places every Beatles fan should visit!

IMG_0533daIMG_0532hhh

To end off our wonderful experience, we stopped off at the John Lennon pub for some beer and pizza. This entire pub was filled with The Beatles themed art work, memorabilia and music! The service here was  lovely, it was chilled out and a good time-out before we headed back to Old Town Square.

IMG_0450ss

We were lucky enough to be staying 5 minutes away from the Old Town Square, so we managed to stop off at our hotel to rejuvenate before searching for some good supper every evening.

IMG_0365hh

IMG_0374  jjj

Colourful buildings were my absolute weakness during this trip! Every building was so well kept, bright, neat and it all looked like a mesmerizing painting.

ALMOST THERE!! PAUL WE ARE READY!

 

This Way to ‘I do’- Whimsical Wedding

This Way to ‘I do’- Sangeet Sensations

This Way to ‘I do’- Capturing Moments

It has been about three months since This Way to ‘I do’ so I have decided to share some of the magnificent photographs from the weekend we will never forget! Kashmir and the rest of my family spent sleepless nights to make #vivwedskash an absolute success and everything a bride could ever dream of.

As mentioned in my posts during the series, the wedding week turned out to be such a blur for the immediate family because we were extremely busy. But luckily, we had a fantastic photographer who managed to capture all the right moments.

Stay tuned for galleries of each day!

Hand Me the Henna: Phase 2

Hand Me the Henna

Hand Me the Henna continues to explore the process of the henna application which a Hindu bride undergoes. If you missed phase 1, click here

IMG_9002

Location: Bagwandeen Household

Mission: Mehndi Day (phase 2) 

Time: 11:00am

The Body- What is happening?

As minimal movement becomes more persistent, my sister is beginning to get somewhat restless. The oppressive heat covers us like a heavy blanket and as I turn away to get myself something to quench my thirst, I hear the bride-to-be beckon me by name. I turn around to respond to her call and think to myself, It’s too hot for this, what could she want now?” Expecting a request like brushing her hair back, or maybe even feeding her a sip of water, I find myself facing a more familiar appeal.
My sister communicates to me without words, and instead uses the glare of her eyes to signal me to her side – This was similar in the way in which she would initiate an encounter in which we would meet to gossip (as sisters do.) I walk towards her and position myself so that my ear is close enough to hear her whisper, “Khinali, I need to call Vivek (the fiancé) because he has forgotten to bring the tables for tonight!” I giggle at the distress in her voice.

The bride-to-be is in the middle of what is supposed to be a charmed and captivating activity, but her concern is focused on something as trivial as tables. Maybe this was her defense mechanism in coping with ‘wedding jitters’. I tell her to relax, and that it is not an issue because he will bring them (I mean, he’s a pretty responsible guy) but she insists that she needs to make a call to him. I try hard to contain my laughter as she points at her phone and tells me to dial his number. I dial Vivek and place the phone to her ear awkwardly because getting too close would mean risking a stain on my outfit. As he answers, my sister starts harping on about everythingbut the tables.

I think to myself, “definitely wedding jitters.” and try to imagine what must be going through his head as she speaks in low, aggressive whispers into the receiver. Naturally, I position myself close to my hand holding the phone, to try to listen to his response while, at the same time, gently reminding my sister (who instinctively wants to grab her phone and crush the life out of it while carrying out her verbal assault) that her hands are still covered in mehndi. She cautiously places her hands at her sides, so as not to wreck the delicate designs or her outfit.

She (now reminding Vivek about the table) is inspecting the marvel; that is the masterpiece that was created on her skin. I wonder what she is thinking as she simultaneously waves her beautifully dressed hand in my face; as if to tell me to ‘shoo’. She does this in the same manner in which you would, with a fly, that’s hovering in your personal space – I think she wants me to cut the call.

img_8866

 

Time: 12:00pm

The Mind- The Backdrop of Henna as an Art

A traditional Eastern wedding ceremony often consists of a series of (preparation) events leading up to the official (wedding day) affair; where one of the customary events is a “mehndi ceremony”. During this ceremony, the bride-to-be is adorned with decorative henna patterns which are applied by a practicing mehndi artist.

The application period is usually 3-4 hours depending on the intensity of the design. Although in earlier times when artist were not so acquainted with art of henna designs, they used toothpicks to apply the henna, hence it could take up twenty hours to complete bridal designs.

The expression is transferred through the elaborate designs the bride-to-be chooses to have applied on herself. The henna artist is equivalent to a conventional artist that expresses her/himself through their paintbrush, musical instrument or tattoo gun. It takes extreme concentration and a steady hand to have the capacity to draw intricate designs.

Once the application on the limbs and extremities (hands and feet) have been completed, the bride is not allowed to use her hands and minimal movement is essential. This is due to the fact that the henna remains wet for a period of time so there’s is a risk of “smudging”. It is crucial that it is left untouched to dry and once it does, the artist will continue to add moisture so that it better adheres to the skin.

Some elders who are well versed in the tradition speculate that the bride should not partake in any strenuous activities during her wedding week, and this could possibly be why.

img_8906

Time: 12:35pm

The Spirit- How does it make me feel?

The self-expression channeled and projected through the henna ceremony that many traditional Hindu brides part-take in is often a procedure that is unexplained to the brides but is performed based on accepted traditions, much like the application of other more common beautifying phases such as make-up.

I feel that there are instances where one’s self expression peaks during an unconscious state of awareness. During the ceremonious in my home, I personally was swathed in the many conversations, laughter and playful moments we shared together as a family that I didn’t realise the intricacy of the situation, and I abandoned the magnificence of it.

It is much like this, in which certain forms of self-expression go unnoticed, but they are still in existence, whether they stand alone or in the multitude of our conscious mind. After processing the hours that passed by during the mehndi application, I reflect back and think about the moments in which my sister’s face lit up after beholding the beautiful patterns on her body- it is this enchanted feeling of what looks like euphoria to me, that I wholeheartedly believe is the absolute and paramount reward of self-expression; this gradually existing as the feeling that is a deduction of an inconspicuous sensation that shields us.

img_8896

Written by- Khinali Bagwandeen

Photographs by- Khinali Bagwandeen

This Way To ‘I Do’- Let’s Get Jiggy With It (Part 4)

 

The wedding weekend has just flashed passed us. It feels like it hasn’t even happened yet. When you are actively involved in such a mountainous event, there is such a long list of things to be done that actually immersing yourself in the function becomes impossible. Nevertheless, we had an unforgettable time marking the marriage of Vivek and Kashmir.

The Vision of Iris was slightly absent through it all, but I tried to keep you all updated as much as possible in the middle of pick ups, hair, make up, setting up and so much more.

My mother and I had innumerable arguments about me sitting on my laptop in the middle of the day while there was work to be done, so yes- I tried! But now that the rush is all over, I have gathered and accumulated so much to share with you all, from parents to pups- I have it all!

i-can-have-it-all-image

The newly weds are off to their honeymoon and according to Vivek, this is where his work begins!

The Sangeet (our night of dance) was so exquisite and ravishing, everyone had a blast. The theme was a Royal Rajasthani Affair.

12378080_575204185987571_7063308394714003487_o

The set up was enchanting and the moment we walked in, it felt like we were teleported to the middle of Rajasthan. This is exactly what Kashmir wanted for her guests. All we really wanted was a fun night that brought everyone together- that is exactly what we had.

wf

The dances went off smoothly, and everyone, young and old took part in the festivities.

The background– Dancing has always been such a dominant factor in our family. Both my sisters are qualified Kathak dancers (a North Indian classical dance form) Kajal and Kashmir have both been dancing from age 9 and 6, and since then, dance has been what makes us who we are.

collagerfv e

Every time you see a dancer dance, you see them in the best version of themselves. Albert Einstein once said, “We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams- we are the dancers; we create the dreams.” This embodies the life of a dancer, and the passion a dancer holds within. Kashmir wanted nothing more than to celebrate her marriage with her passion.

Our family commends my parents for pushing their daughters in the direction of dance, and from a very young age, every family function has adopted a dance aspect to light up the evening and ignite the celebrations.

The production- Kajal, my eldest sister could be defined (in the conventional sense) as Kashmir’s maid of honor. So it was her duty to rally up the troops and construct a group of dancers from our enthusiastic and talented family. In the space of three weeks, she had convinced a group of doctors, businessmen, busy students, and the young to help us put on a show for the rest of our family.

dance-4

 

tumblr_m7my0l2qWG1qdvraco1_500

Rehearsals were full of laughter and fun (well, according to my family. I wasn’t there 😦 ) Even after a few beers on a chilled Sunday afternoon, they still got jiggy with it and had a blast!

IMG_7088

Kajal had no doubt that it would be a victory for us. And it was! Together with our dancer friends, they managed to put together a performance that could’ve almost been a professional show.

collagehh

 

The result was exactly what we intended for, it brought everyone together, even after the dances, the spirit lingered and filled the room with a fire that burned inside of everyone to party on!

The power dance had on our family left us speechless, the fun we had at the Sangeet still lingered on the lips of everyone even days after!

P.S- To add to the beautiful theme, we had a prop filled photo booth with Rajasthani props.

These are some of the fun pictures!

This Way To ‘I Do’- A Journey Through My Eyes

I come from a family of three girls, and I have the stupendous pleasure of being the last born.

A little bit into my life- My eldest sister is 12 years my senior, and my middle sister, 8. Now this is slightly surprising to many because if you see the three of us together, it seems as if there is nothing above four years between us all. I come from a very close knit family where our bond with each other trumps anything else. I have been told on many occasions that my sisters and I share the type of relationship you see in movies. It is a pleasure and a blessing to be able to call BOTH sisters my best friend, protector, psychologist, financial adviser, and a whole lot more!

Kajal- the first born. She is an accountant by profession and actress by passion. Thanks to her, I have a charming brother in law who is a pharmacist by profession and pilot by passion. Impressive- I know, right?

The two of them have grown to be my second set of parents who have played a tremendous role in my path to self-emergence.  They have also given me the gift of a niece and nephew (four legs and furry!)

IMG_6541 small

Kashmir is the second born. She is a lawyer by profession and passion. This ‘journey’ that I will soon be travelling with you has been prompted by the biggest step she has decided to take on. In about two weeks she will be wedded to the love of her life and this will be a huge step not only for the two of them, but my entire family.

IMG-20150511-WA0001

A wedding in my household is unlike any other. The preparation, the stress, the tears, the fighting, the laughs- these only fill a minuscule fraction of what the experience will be like. The journey of a traditional Indian bride is not a smooth one, well, I am not speaking from experience, but I’ve seen enough to know that it’s more like sky diving with no parachute than a rollercoaster.

But despite all the speed bumps, the joy and happiness invested in this four day celebration is out of this world. It almost ends up feeling like a dream. I don’t have the words to describe what this journey has in store for me, my sisters, the groom, my parents, my furry niece and nephew- the list could go on. We are all in for a surprise, and the truth is; WE CANNOT WAIT!!

Without a doubt, this will be a road filled with colour and love, so I invite you to live through this journey with me and my family.

IMG-20150511-WA0009

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑