Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Deepavali!

Happy Deepavali! Or, if you're not in Malaysia, Happy Diwali! We are just finishing up celebrating the Hindu Holiday, and true to Malaysian style we partied hard and did it up right! Remember Brent's outfit from the last post? Craig and I didn't want to feel left out, so we got our own for the occasion. If you want a treat, check this video of Brent dancing bollywood style on Youtube. It should not be missed, he won Muharaja! Here is Craig in his Punjabi Suit, the traditional outfit for the holiday. He's holding a diva lamp that he made in school. Deepavali is also called The Festival of Lights. The small lamp holds oil and signifies the triumph of good over evil.
Deepavali is the largest celebration for the Indian Hindu population in Malaysia, as well as around the world. It's customary to buy new clothes as part of the Deepavali celebration and to share special sweets with friends and family members. Craig's school, as always, really knows how to celebrate! Luckily there are many members of the staff that are Hindu, so they make sure it's a big deal! Here is Craig, with his darling teacher, Miss Parker. She's wearing a Sari for the day!
Here is Craig's class! They look like quite a festive bunch! In the picture is Mrs. Raja, the classroom aid. She is Hindu and helped show me the proper way to wear my jewelry and sparkles above my nose. She said that the red mark that you see Hindu women wearing is like our wedding ring, it means that you're married. And, by the way, it's not taboo to very openly discuss which religion you belong to here. In fact, they ask your religion to open just about any account, even a frequent shoppers card at the grocery store! It's funny though, I've filled out a couple of questionaires, and the race is always Malay, Chinese, Indian or Other. And the religion is Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Other. I've never been an 'other' to both of those questions before! Anyway, back to Deepavali and Craig's cute class!!
The entire school really got into the celebration! Here is the Librarian, Miss Shariffa. Have you ever seen such a beautiful librarian before? Craig certainly hasn't! He loves Miss Shariffa!
I will admit, I was dying to get all dressed up and go check out the festivities at the school! I would have volunteered to be the janitor for the day, this school is so much fun! Luckily they needed volunteers to do henna body art (ok, mom, a tattoo - but it only lasts until you take a dip in a cholornated pool, so relax!) I wasn't the only mom (excuse me, mum) that was dying to get in on the action! I had about 20 mums show up to my house to practice our new henna art the day before the party. Here we are, there are about 10 countries being represented around the table!
Luckily, I got to help Craig! Here we are deciding on the design for his hand. He decided to go with a crescent, because it also looks like a C - for Craig! I love seeing him so happy at his school!
Here are my two other partners in crime, Sarah Kelly and Nina Wilson! It was fun to get dressed up and spy on our kids at school!
I was a little worried that there wouldn't be too many other mums who got all dressed up for the occasion. Boy was I wrong! Here are a couple of moms who have kids in Craig's class who got all dressed up for Pick-up at school! Mei is a local, from right here in Penang. She is in a beautiful Sari. Greit is from Belgium, you may remember her from last week's Halloween cupcake adventure! She is wearing the traditional Punjabi Suit.
Here's our happy little family! We're still just having the best time enjoying all the local traditions!Want to know another great thing about living in a country that celebrates so many different cultures and holidays? School and work closures, of course!!! Since Brent and Craig both had last Friday off for Deepavali, guess where we went? I'm serious, I want some guesses!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween in Malaysia!

I know it's late, but Happy Halloween! You didn't think I'd go a year without one, did you?! Craig wanted to be Mickey Mouse the Sorcerer, which was a little difficult to do, seeing as there are no costume stores here. But we figured it out, and isn't he a cutie?! Craig's school has a Halloween Disco every year, and the PTC (PTA) asked the American mums to decorate cupcakes to sell at the disco. They said that only Americans can do cupcakes, and we didn't want to disappoint! So the morning of the disco the 5 American mums (helped out by a couple local ladies and a lady from Belgium) got together and decorated 270 cupcakes!! It actually only took us 3 hours to get them all done! Here we are with some of our cupcakes that were stored in an office in the school.
And here they are on sale. We got them all sold! Everyone was so impressed that we were able to color the frosting! They kept asking us our secret.
Here are Craig and I just before going to the Halloween Disco. I wouldn't feel right about not dressing up on Halloween, but Brent says he doesn't need to. Let's just read the rest of this post to see if you believe he doesn't need to dress up. He did get away with not wearing a costume to the disco, however.
Here is Craig at the disco with one of his favorite classmates, Navid. He is from Iran, and they are such cute playmates! They both enjoyed running around the dance floor together.
Craig decided to bust some serious moves, and got really into break dancing! I don't know where he picked break dancing up, but he looks like he knows what he's doing!
Trick-or-treaing isn't really done in Malaysia, but we didn't want let that stop us! We had a halloween party at our house with the Wilsons and Kellys, the two other American families that moved here with us and a German family that lives in our building. Craig couldn't wait for them to come! I think he stood in the doorway for an hour he was so excited!
After a dinner of chili and corn bread (you have no idea how hard it was to find those ingredients!) the kids played for a bit while the adults got ready to simulate trick-or-treating. This was a bit complicated! We had to phone ahead to make sure we could come, as well as deliver candy before the trick-or-treating started since this isn't a normal custom here. It was worth it, though! We didn't want the kids to feel like they'd missed out on anything while being away. So while we delivered candy and set-up trick-or-treat stations the kids went a little crazy in Craig's room!
Instead of walking around the block the way we do at home, we piled kids in the elevator and went to different floors. There was a lot of energy in that elevator!!
Our first stop was at Annika's house! She is our German friend that came to the party with her kids, but while the kids played she snuck back up to her apartment to hand out candy.
Our next stop was to some of Craig's favorite people! The Rutherfords are our good friends, and more than happy to have us stop by! Mr. Rutherford is the conductor of the Penang State Symphony Chorus and Mrs. Rutherford is a wonderful lady. So they make me feel quite at home! They dote on Craig and he just eats it up!!
The next stops were a little trickier! Our American friends don't live in the building so we had them stand at different doors in the lobby of our building and the kids could knock on them to get candy. They moms just had to wait outside until the kids knocked! A little backwards, but it worked! Here is Sarah's station.
Here is Nina's station.
And then on to the security guard, who was a great sport! He didn't quite understand why we'd give him candy to give to our kids. He thought it would have been easier for us to just give the candy out ourselves, but he played along!
Just so that the kids could have a few more stops we had one dad stand in the stairwell of our floor so that the kids could knock on another door.
And the last stop was back at our apartment!
Here is our happy trick-or-treating crew! They didn't seem to notice that not all the door were attached to houses! Their bags had candy in them, and that was enough to make them happy! Coincidentally, here is Brent, later that same night. He's receiving a prize for the being the best-dressed male. This is an Bollywood party, and he is wearing a Punjabe suit. This is typical clothing that is worn during Depavali, which is going on right now in Malaysia!
We'll have more on Depavali soon! Craig is going to dress up in an outfit similar to his dad's for school tomorrow! I even get to wear one since I get to help out for the Depavali party! More to come soon!