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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Saturday, November 02, 2013



I'm sending you greetings from the U.S., where the first ever Diwali festival was celebrated at the U.S. Congress on Tuesday amidst chanting of Vedic mantras by a Hindu priest. Over two dozen influential lawmakers along with eminent Indian-Americans gathered at the Capitol Hill to lit the traditional “diyas”. The event — the first of its kind at the Capitol Hill — was organized by the two Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Congressmen Joe Crowley and Peter Roskam in recognition of increasing presence of the Indian-American community. The occasion was also used to highlight significance of India-US relationship.
“I have come here to say Happy Diwali,” said Nancy Pelosi, Leader of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. “United States owes a great debt of gratitude to India. Because our civil rights movement was built on the non-violent movement in India. Martin Luther King studied there, spoke there. We are blessed not only by that legacy, but also by the presence of so many Indo-Americans in our country,” Pelosi said.

Many schools, community groups, Hindu associations, Indian organizations and corporate businesses get involved in celebrating Diwali. Politicians, including governors and past presidents, previously made public announcements expressing their greetings and well wishes to Indians on Diwali. Some communities organize firework displays and states such as Utah have proclaimed Diwali as one of their state festivals. Indians, while living here in the U.S. and participating in public celebrations of the festival nearest to their location of residence, have their hearts in India and enjoy sharing with their loved ones, especially their children born and brought up here in the U.S., who have remained far removed from their roots in India, the nostalgic memories of how they celebrated the festival back home:

Diwali is also known as Deepavali, the literal meaning of which in Sanskrit is 'row of lamps'. The highlight of the function was filling little clay lamps called 'diyas', with oil, mainly mustered oil, and wick and lighting them in rows on the balconies all over the house. The tradition is still maintained by those who have the means, otherwise by and large, diyas are now replaced with candles or electric illuminations. Before the celebration begins, every nook and corner of the house is thoroughly cleaned and the house is white-washed or painted well in time for the festival. On the day of Diwali, the entrance is especially made colorful with lovely traditional motifs and Rangoli designs, and the front door decorated with flowers to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Lamps are kept burning all through night or as long as possible as Lakshmi could come any time, even late at night. Lakshmi-Puja is perfomed in the evening when the tiny diyas are lighted and the 'thali' full of traditional as well as the choicest sweets is offered to the Goddess and thereafter to everyone around, family and friends.

Movies have also become a major part of the festivities, though may not be on the Diwali day due to pre-occupation with preparations for the Puja and other related funcions by the families. Still, movies in India have catered to the escapist masses much of its 100 years long existence. And what better place than the darkened cinema hall to bring alive those fantasies – and again what better time to share the sheer joy of movies other than on a festive occasion like Diwali. The festival of lights has traditionally been the best time to celebrate release of the biggest movies starring marquee actors.It was a guarantee that the movies would release to a packed audience because the festive mood would extend from people's homes into the movie theaters. Thus, while decades may have changed generations, the fact remains that Diwali and Bollywood have remained entwined together ever since Mehboob's Mother India was released on Diwali, or even earlier when Zohrabai's “Aayee Diwali Aayee Diwali” and Amirbai Karnataki's “Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali Hai” had become a rage. The industry has been quick to realize the potential of the all-pervading sense of happiness in the country and has traditionally vied to release its best movie during this period. Who can forget the late Yash Chopra's romantic movies that were a mandatory feature of the festival since the eighties. His son Aditya Chopra set a new benchmark for Diwali releases when he released Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in 1995. The movie is said to be still running at Mumbai's Maratha Mandir theater and its record run is unprecedented anywhere in the world. More recently, Karan Johar's “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham” has the most impressive Diwali sequence with the ultimate title song “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham” by Lata Mangeshkar, followed by the “Shava Shava” song and dance number that truly fits the festive mood for Diwali. The best movies to release during Diwali are the traditional masala potboilers. For example this year's Krrish 3 is a perfect Diwali release because it's an established franchise film with a great cast.

May the Diwali illuminations brighten your homes and Lakshmi-Puja bring riches and prosperity in the house … Happy Diwali !