In a change from many of the superficial holiday books available, this sophisticated volume incorporates information about the major Indian religions; Hindu, Sikh, and Jain Diwali traditions; and Indian immigration to the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean.
The author was born in India and now lives in Canada. Like some of the people interviewed, her experience of Diwali “lost its luster” as she grew older, especially as she lived outside of India, but this festival of lights, with its many associated legends and traditions, is now attracting new attention in its homeland and in countries where Indians have settled. Singh provides a rich look at the religious and secular aspects of the holiday through personal interviews and includes exciting color photos taken all over India and the world, including Times Square. Recipes for traditional treats are provided. She also highlights unusual new celebrations that focus on communities that need an extra infusion of joy: widows in Vrindavan, where many women shunned by their families have gathered to live, and Mumbai children, living in extreme poverty. The inclusion of information on the Sikhs who tried to immigrate to Canada aboard the Komagata Maru in 1914 only to be refused entry is highly relevant in light of the contemporary treatment of immigrants and refugees. The book’s biggest flaw is that there’s so much information it is occasionally difficult to follow.
An exceptionally valuable resource. (glossary, references and resources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)