Instead of going to school on Monday, I went to the Hindu festival Ganesh Chaturthi in celebration of the birthday of Lord Ganesha. We went to the Lord Ganesha temple in the town of Bidor in the morning. We missed the chariot procession, but I enjoyed watching the Hindu prayers and praying on my own.
Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and the god of beginnings. He has the head of an elephant and is worshipped by students for wisdom as a patron of arts and sciences.
Later in the afternoon, we returned to the temple for more prayers and a delicious temple meal.
In the evening, I helped my host aunt to make modak, the dessert of choice for an offering to Lord Ganesha.
After dark, we returned to Bidor for the procession of Lord Ganesha’s chariot, pulled through the streets of the town by two cows! We brought a platter of fruit as an offering to Ganesha.
We AFSers have a lesson in Bahasa Malaysia about once a week.
I’ve also been learning Tamil with my Tamil master host brother’s help; he teaches me at least one word a day.
During school I’ve been reading chapter books and studying/ taking notes on textbooks that are in English or taking sample tests, and I usually actually enjoy this, since it’s just about learning for fun, not forced memorization. After school, I wait in Amma’s classroom if she has meetings, go to functions with Amma, or go home, to an aerobics class, or to the sewing shop of one of my host aunts.
With Amma, I attended the 16th-Day Funeral Prayers for a family acquaintance who passed away. When an Indian dies, Tamil Hindus do not go to temple or pray for thirty days, and they do not celebrate any holidays or festivals for an entire year. For the first thirty days after the loved one’s death, Indian families display an altar at the front of the house and make offerings for the deceased person. On the sixteenth day of prayers, family and friends will gather outside of the front of the house and stay awake all night, eating, talking, and even playing card games, praying at certain times every couple of hours.
On Saturday, I attended a Tamil class with Amma; I mostly just sat in the back of the classroom reading and drawing, but I also got to meet some really nice people. The following week’s issue of Then Dral Tamil Weekly magazine had my picture on the front cover! The magazine is in circulation throughout Malaysia.
Amma, Anne, and I went to Shah Alam first, and I met another of my host aunts. The neighbors were having a big celebration for their son’s 21st birthday, which was interesting to see. For many Indian 21st birthdays, the families order a large tent to fill up the street with tables and chairs for eating from a buffet.
Unlike simple tents used in the US, each Malaysian cover/tent has ceiling fans at the top, something that is very nice and very necessary for Malaysia’s climate.
Before Ilaria’s 12 am flight arrived, Amma, Anne (host brother), and I walked around Shah-Alam’s I-City park.
We met Ilaria at the airport and then went to the KFC. (I have been to KFC three times in Malaysia, more than the entire rest of my life– which had been a total of 0 )
Being out of the US (and going to an airport) on September 11 was kind of weird, and I was a bit sad thinking about the memorial. But overall, it was just another day here.
We stayed overnight with the family of one of Amma’s friends in Putrajaya since we didn’t have school the coming week due to a national holiday!
New updates to come soon