This year I discovered I was not the only leader who gets uncomfortable with Hallowe’en and so we decided this year to do Diwali instead (we could have probably done both, but our meeting closest to Hallowe’en will be taken up with Remembrance Sunday prep). Our Senior Section had said they had fun when we did it two years ago, and one of our leaders is doing her Leadership Qualification and one of the requirements is to organise activities in the meeting place. So she organised Diwali night!
I had contacted a friend at Glasgow uni who I met at one of the Children’s Literature conferences earlier this year to ask if her family celebrate Diwali. They do, and she was generous in sending on to us some ‘top tips’ for celebrating Diwali.
Our LIT (Leader In Training) went online and discovered a very simple recipe for coconut ladoos. She tried them out and our Senior Section unit got to be her guinea pigs (om nom nom). And we went on a bit of a mission to find some ‘Diwali’ stuff. We discovered a fantastic fabric shop, very well known in our city for providing material for salwars and saris and they were able to give us tips on which shops would sell sweets and food for Diwali and some bindi (the stick on jewels for your forehead). We also discovered they had ready made henna in tubes (we didn’t get any – but it we’ve definitely noted it for future).
A number of my friends at my church have been to India. I was meant to go one of the trips, and ended up staying behind to run the blog keeping their friends and family informed while they were out there. My friend Ruth brought me back a salwar suit which she wanted but didn’t fit her (it actually is a little too small for me as well!)
When visiting the towns, churches and schools they always wear traditional Indian dress. So I put a call out on facebook. On Sunday I was handed several bags containing several salwar suits and a beautiful sari. In fact a few people had bags for me who couldn’t find me (our church building is pretty large!). The girls got to try these on if they wanted to – I hadn’t realised the sari was in there, and tried to remember how to dress someone in a sari – but I’m pretty sure I got it wrong!
Our LIT had also found some crafts for Diwali – the girls started doing their own rangoli designs with chalk and coloured crayons and some of them made paper lanterns which tealights could shine through.
We also had two church elders visiting our unit that night. This is something they do about once a year to report back to the church session on what the groups using the buildings are doing, and often ask how they can support us etc. While they were ‘interviewing’ me we caught sight of the girls in the kitchen with the hatch open. I had opened the hatch to put a tape player with some Indian music my friend had lent me for the night. One of the tunes that came on was very bollywood, and the next thing we saw is five Guides shouting out ‘moves’ (stroke the cat, the slumdog millionaire, fix the lightbulb…?) as they did some ‘bollywood dancing’ to the music! It was very funny to watch and I wish I’d captured it on video!!
We had sparklers which our unit leader had delivered to me to take down that we still need to use. About an hour before our meeting our unit leader had to cancel due to an emergency, then our new volunteer got called into work at the last minute – add the church elders attending then several girls not turning up and others coming in late… it was a little more chaotic than we thought it was going to be. We are really grateful to one of the local Guide leaders who came down last minute to help us so we could have one leader supervising crafts and another leader supervising the ladoo making in the kitchen, while I was caught up with the elders!
So, sparklers will be used NEXT week (a combined extra late Diwali/early Fireworks night).
All in all it was a great night I think and the memory of the Bollywood dancing will be the once that stays with me.
Thanks to our awesome Leader in Training for organising the night, Soumi for giving us advice on Diwali, Ellie for coming to our rescue and everyone at Central who lent us your music tapes and clothes from India!