We had one of our big Diwali celebrations in San Diego on October 15, 2016. It was the Festival of Lights held at Balboa Park. It was a fantastic event, yet again. This year it was special, because as well as dancing, we had singing, and there was a world-class singer who entertained us, so it was truly magnificent. His name is Aditya Rao, and apparently he has won several awards, and has appeared in several videos like the one below:
Here he is performing at Balboa Park, and he’s also seen in this video that I made
Here is a video that shows the lighting of the lamps display, and the women carrying the lamps during the lamp parade.
Here is a video showing Punjabi music and specifically, Bhangra at the Festival Of Lights….spectacular!
Here are more photos showing Aditya Rao, and the performances that he was part of.
Here are some other pictures taken at Festival Of Lights
These are the lamps on display. I have never taken pictures of the lamps before as I always get a seat, and never venture towards the lamps, but this year I did, and I’m glad!
Here are some of the other performances
One of Aditya Rao again, with the main presenter
Here’s little Chandra having fun!
This is Aditya Rao standing with the main organizers and this is just prior to the Indian Anthem being sung
President Barack Obama graced Diwali at Balboa Park with his presence, even though it was just on screen. He wished us a Happy Diwali! This was ever so nice, just to see President Obama in Balboa Park!
I really love going to the Festival Of Lights, as I enjoy seeing the performances, seeing Balboa Park again, seeing the stage graced by beautiful dances in clothes that sparkle, and then of course the lights tinkle! I also enjoy eating the Indian food that is available from many of the vendors who participate in Festival Of Lights. This year I got samosas, chicken saag and rice, and gulab jamun – that was two trays of food for me and Chandra, which included passion fruit juice for her and a nice cup of Pumpkin Spice Chai that cost just $9. You can’t beat that price!
I hope you enjoyed my pictures of the Festival Of Lights, and I hope you all have a truly beautiful Diwali. May light conquer over darkness, may good prevail over evil, and may we all experience peace, joy and prosperity on Diwali, and in the year ahead. Happy Diwali!
Time’s already flying by, and it’s February now, but I still haven’t shared December Nights, 2015 with you. Must hurry up, or it will be December again. Just my luck! I don’t want time to go that quickly. There’s no rush…..I will get too old too quickly like this – slow down time!
December Nights at Balboa Park in San Diego is always a fun event. It’s a two day extravaganza, and my family really enjoys it. This year we had to go without Niki, my oldest – since she has started college, and moved away. Still, it’s a fun event for kids of all ages, and adults alike, and I think I might love it even more than my kids do!
This year, we went early. Even though the even starts at 12 noon or so, most people don’t go until 5pm, as they like to be there in the evening when all the lights are on, as well as the Christmas tree at the Organ Pavilion. However, traffic is crazy and hectic, and so is parking. A few times now, we have parked at Petco Park, and then taken a shuttle bus from there to Balboa Park, but this time I wanted to park at the Zoo, and combine December Nights with a trip to the Zoo. So, we got to the Zoo at around 1:45 pm, and were easily able to find a parking spot. We spent about one and a half hours there.
We then took the short walk to Balboa Park – an easy 5 or 10 minute walk.
We first saw the Fountain area, close to one of the museums, and had a little snack, then walked past the Botanical Gardens area where the beautiful flowers, and Reflective Pond is; then we went to the Grinch tree, which is by the Old Globe Theatre, and actually spotted the Grinch!
We then went to see some of the performances at the Organ Pavilion, and since Chandra wanted to eat, we went towards the International Cottages area. When I heard Indian music, that beckoned me, and I was so glad I had allowed myself to be beckoned like that – because that became the highlight of my entire evening. I normally enjoy the Organ Pavilion area, and the Christmas songs so much, and enjoyed them again this year, but this time I allowed myself to actually wander away from the performances at the Organ Pavilion to experience more of what was taking place at the International Cottages area, and these are two competing performance areas – one on the big stage, and the other on a smaller stage, but equally powerful in performance. While one concentrates on performances that are mainly musical, and showcases instruments being played, and singers performing – the smaller stage at the International Cottages focuses on dance. The dance aspect is really entertaining, as you still have the music and the songs, but now have further entertainment too. I absolutely loved it, and my little Chandra got up to dance on the stage for the Grand Finale of the Indian dancing!
Here are two videos that I made – one shows the Grand Finale that Chandra was in,
and the other one shows a variety of performances, and dances that were performed. This includes the performances at the Organ Pavilion, and the Scottish Bagpipe Band, as well as the San Diego Chorus, and of course, the Indian dance performances which took place at the International Cottages.
I love December Nights, there is nothing quite like it!
The Indian Independence Day anniversary this year on August 15th, was the 69th one since India got it’s independence from the British. I had a day off from work on Friday, 14th August, and already showed you Day 1, which we spent mostly in Artesia – LA’s Little India. I love visiting Artesia. Here at home in San Diego, we also have a Little India in the Black Mountain Road area of Mira Mesa, but I do enjoy going to Artesia from time to time.
Day 2 of our little mini-vacation started off at Knotts Soak City, which I already showed you in another post, and now I will show you more pictures of the actual Indian Independence Day Celebration in Artesia (part of Los Angeles).
These pictures were taken towards the end of the evening, and show Bollywood star Raveena Tandon on the stage. The first picture shows when she was lighting a lamp as part of the day’s celebrations.
This picture shows the lighting of the lamp a little bit more clearly
This picture just shows Raveena looking very elegant, and beautiful on this great day.
My daughter Niki and I got to the event at around 5:45 pm, and we thought we were late. We were relieved when we found out that it hadn’t started yet, so we walked around. Here is Niki enjoying having the day off from dancing and being able to watch her friends peform instead.
We walked around and looked at all the wonderful food, I really should have taken more pictures of the other food stations – there were so many. This picture shows Pani Puri. I remember we used to have these back in England, and called them Gol Gappa, not sure if I am spelling that properly. They would puff up a lot sometimes while they were fried, and when they came out of the fryer, we would delight in poking a hole in them, and would pour tamarind sauce in to the hole in the center, and oh my gosh, that was one of the tastiest treats ever! They don’t make them here, like my Grandma made them back in England. We used to eat them right after she fried them, and they were so yummy! I think Pani Puri are just the same as Gol Gappa, but I do have to question it as they don’t taste as good as my Grandma’s Gol Gappa! I think Gol Gappa might be the Punjabi word for Pani Puri.
Oh, I have one more picture of another of the food stations
I had a sample of some great chai! Oh, how I love chai! This one was just the way I like it – piping hot and made with chai masala. I ended up buying some mixes as when I am home, I just make tea the English way by brewing it in a cup, and can’t be bothered going the extra step and making Indian tea (chai) properly. However, when I go out to Indian restaurants, I love to drink chai – I want my proper Indian tea then!
After we wandered around for a bit, it was time to see some performances. It started off with this little boy dancing. Oh, he was so cute. You can see him and the others who performed in the video, directly below his picture (excuse the hand that got in the way).
Please do watch my video of the Performances, this was the main event of the celebration, and of course, the star of the event was Raveena Tandon.
Then there were more performances, here is an assortment of pictures:
Did you know there was a Congressman in attendance? Yes, there was. Congressman Ed Royce (R) serves the 39th Congressional District in Orange County and eastern Los Angeles. I made a video of him too, but did not add it to the Performances video!
Some more pictures of the performances
Then, guess what another great thing happened at this event, they had a great sale and all clothes were only $1 each. Yes, you read it right – just $1 each. I bought seven items and it was so worth it.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my pictures, and the video of the Performances. In case you haven’t yet seen the video that I made of when Raveena Tandon was made upset, here it is:
I’m just recovering from a crazy week after Indian Independence Day in Artesia, CA (in the Los Angeles area). I loved the craziness actually, and why not? After all, it’s not every day that my videos get over 100,000 views in a matter of days. Well, this time it happened, but it was quite unexpected. Currently, my video has 178,895 views.
I shared my video a few days ago (the one that got all the action, and attention), so I won’t share it again here. However, I would like to share my other videos, and hope you will watch them.
First, let me share another picture of the beautiful Raveena Tandon. I hope she comes back soon to Los Angeles or San Diego, and I hope she gets the star treatment that she deserves.
Most importantly, I take and make videos because I enjoy it. I take pictures because I enjoy it. I post because I enjoy it, I tweet and pin pictures because I enjoy them, and I attend cultural events because I enjoy them. It’s all in the enjoyment, and it’s all just a hobby.
In the next post, I will share more pictures of the actual event.
You cannot stay still when you hear Punjabi music! Bet you! You will want to break out in bhangra, and why not! It’s definitely good exercise. Want to see a video that I made when I was in the UK? This video was made at a pre-wedding party, but I just called it Punjabi Dance Party.
I love the songs on the video, here’s a playlist. The timings are listed so that you can go forward and see certain songs without seeing the entire video – but why you would want to do that – I don’t know – you shouldn’t! The whole video is good!
At 19 seconds into the video: Aaja Soniyeh from Foji ft Gurlej Akhtar – Mentah. I just called it Aaja Soniyeh as these words are in it, but not sure what the name of the song is (one of my favorites);
At 1:01 minutes into the video: Aaj Blue Hai Pani Pani from Yo Yo Honey Singh
At 1:55 minutes into the video: I love the song, but don’t know what it’s called or who is the singer, but the dance to it in this video that I made is rather wonderful. This is when the men get together and dance like crazy! The song refers to Jallandarh, a big city in the Punjab – where I have been just once when I was 14 years old.
At 3:30 minutes into the video: There is a ritual dance that is in honor of the groom who will be married the next day (yes this is the party that the boy’s side held). The girl’s side held their own party the same day at a different venue. We were invited to the boy’s side.
At 4:25 minutes into the video: There’s a song that I like to refer to as the “Snake Song”. It is the same music that there was a fabulous dance to in Bride and Prejudice, the “Cobra Dance” that had one of the sisters entertaining the guest Darcy as well as Mr. Khan who was visiting from Los Angeles. Aishwarya Rai was in this movie and played one of the sisters. This was a truly fabulous movie!
At 5:57 mintues into the video, it’s the women’s turn to dance! Again, I don’t know the name of the song, or the singer – but you should tune into to see how Punjabi women dance – they do a dance traditionally known as “giddah” – a traditional folk dance.
At 6:40 minutes into the video, there’s Moorni from Panjabi MC (one of my favorites);
At 6:59 minutes into the video, watch out for the men’s turn again as they dance to the Dhol, and do my favorite – bhangra!
At 8:43 minutes into the video, tune in for nightclub/disco like bhangra!
At 9:04 minutes into the video, tune in for Spanish Bhangra! That’s all I can call it as there is a song that I should know the name to, but don’t and it is Spanish I believe, also popular, and the men love dancing to it bhangra style!
At 9:45 minutes into the video, tune in for the Bhangra finale!
If you love the songs you hear in my video, and want to hear the full version, and see the corresponding video from the artist click on the song links below
Aaja Soniyeh from Foji ft Gurlej Akhtar – Mentah.
Aaj Blue Hai Pani Pani from Yo Yo Honey Singh
Moorni from Panjabi MC
Cobra Dance from Bride and Prejudice, and I know this is part of another Bollywood movie too
Don’t forget with a good Punjabi Dance Party, you need a nice cup of tea, and some Indian sweets, so here you go – just for you! I took the first two pictures below in the USA, but the rest are taken at the Punjabi Dance Party in the UK at Walsall Football Stadium.
My daughter Niki took a selfie of us when we were in the car on the way to Walsall from Northern England.
Here I am at the party before it got started.
I hope you liked my video, and the pictures. Don’t forget to watch some of the other videos of the songs that I really like – they are some of the best, but mostly don’t forget to watch my video. Remember, there’s nothing like good Punjabi music, and especially bhangra!
Indian food generally does not taste that great here in Indian restaurants in America. I think part of that reason is that Americans are not as used to Indian food as let’s say people in the UK are. There, the Indian restaurants are spectacular. They’re not afraid to make the food spicy there, and don’t make it bland to cater to other tastes. Also, where I grew up – we used to invite our English neighbors all the time to events, or even to our homes, and give them a taste of Indian food – which they seemed to love. Everyone seemed to know what a samosa was or what a chapatti or naan bread is.
Alas, over here, not only do people not know about Indian food, the food generally is more bland, and I believe it is that way because it caters to American tastes. There are exceptions – there’s a great place that I go to that is not that fancy, but it has really good Punjabi khadi – one of my favorite dishes. Then there are other places that if you eat from the menu, and not from the lunch buffet – the food can have more flavor.
Well, now I am happy to report that I found a great Indian restaurant that just opened up. It’s the Royal India restaurant on Miramar Road in San Diego. The food is tasty, and even a little spicy as it should be. I knew I had to go to this restaurant fairly quickly from it’s opening, and I’m so happy that I went there yesterday. Here are some pictures.
This picture came out a little fuzzy – by the way, I took all the pictures with my smart phone – my Note 3.
Okay, so first thing you have to do when you go to an Indian restaurant is start off with some appetizers such as samosas or pakoras, both fried – but very delicous. Pakoras are vegetables, and spices that are encased in a batter that is fried. Samosas are pastries stuffed with spiced potatoes, and vegetables. I absolutely love samosas, and sometimes rate the restaurant based upon it’s samosas.
These samosas were fairly good, but the sauces were the best. There was a tamarind sauce that you just always have to have with samosas, and a mint chutney, a mango chutney, and a Royal India house chilli sauce. Oh, my gosh…..these sauces were all delicious, and when I finished the appetizers – I had to spoon up the sauces until my plate was clean!
I wish I had taken a picture of the buffet station with all the main entrees in it, but I didn’t, so all I can provide you is my plate piled high with delicious food – there was chilli chicken, chicken curry, two kinds of rice, saag (spinach) which I absolutely love, lentil curry and sholay or channa daal (chick peas). Of course there were other items that I could not put on my plate – such as chicken tikka masala, lamb kheema, and a few other dishes. They brought baskets of naan bread to the table – one had plain naan, and one had garlic naan – this is not usual that you get two assortments of naan at a buffet, so it was quite nice.
Chandi loves fruit, so she was eager to get to dessert, and loved the fruit salad.
I loved the Gulab Jamun which is a delciously sweet dessert – very sticky and syruppy is all I can say!
But, I had to get a little of the mango mousse (which was delicious, the kheer (rice pudding with milk) and a bit of the fruit too.
Then I felt like Royal-tea (literally) when they brought me the chai – I love to have tea made the Indian way – perhaps I should save that description for another day.
Niki and Luca loved it here too, as did Chandra shown in our family picture towards the bottom.
Here we all are after our stomachs are full.
This restaurant is really classy, and very elegant. It has chandeliers, and a bar!
It has separate rooms which you can book for your parties, and they also do Bollywood events and hold functions here. In fact, we were told about a Bollywood party that is going to be taking place this Friday at 8:30 to 1 am. I am tempted to go as I do like Bollywood and also Bhangra. Look at this beautiful room which is off to one side from the main dining room.
This place is really big – I think I heard it holds up to 561 people, and it has ample parking. I
I felt right at home here, and loved the music playing in the background. It was music from popular Hindi songs without the words – very classy. I can’t wait to go back to Royal India, and will definitely try one of their Bollywood events soon. I’m pretty sure they will hold a Punjabi Dance Party similar to one that I attended in the UK last year. Here’s my video of that just incase you want to see it.
Well, here’s to Punjabi dance parties and to Bollywood parties, and also to Indian food. See you next time.
The Diwali Mela took place in the Black Mountain Road area of Mira Mesa, San Diego on October 25, 2014. It was a packed-out event, and a great way to spend the evening. There were many performances to Bollywood songs, and of course at least one to Bhangra!
Here are some pictures, and at the bottom of this page, you can see some videos that I made. If there is one thing that should strike you from looking at the pictures is that Indian outfits are so colorful, as well as pretty!
Now, for a break away from the performances – just take a look at all the people, and there were more!
I tried a few different dishes including the Punjabi Karhi and Rice, one of my favorites – I should have taken a picture! I did take one of the Alloon Paratha – which were quite delicous (bread stuffed with potatoes and spices, that is cooked on a tava or griddle, and then smothered with oil or butter).
Now back to the pictures of the performers.
I hope that added some color into your day!
Here is the video showing the Punjabi dance:
Here is the video showing the Rajasthan dance:
Here is the video showing a variety of the performances, including the women’s fashion show and the men’s fashion show.
Don’t miss the performance towards the end of this last video showing a dance to Bang Bang – the Bollywood movie starring Hrithik Roshan, and watch out for the little boy in the audience who definitely has dance fever!