Tonight was Cultural Evening II featuring India and Lebanon. It started out solemnly with an Indian welcoming ceremony and ended up with a lot of dancing--planned and unplanned.
But first, the Indian sisters greeted everyone with a hand washing. The custom of hand washing is an expression of hospitality and the hosts' receptiveness of the guests.
Each sister was also invited to have a bindi placed on her forehead. The bindi is typically applied to celebrate a joyful occasion. By tradition, it represents the beginning of creation that flows from God and forms unity among all people.
With the bindi on the forehead comes a prayer: "May god grant you your desires and may you be blessed with foresight and uncommon vision to see your way around all the obstacles that may darken your path." In general, it helps to be peaceful and calm.
Remya applies the bindi to Sandra (above) and Eluiza (left).
Mary Clare proudly shows off her bindi.
The sisters placed a ring of flowers in the center of the floor to represent a pookalam or flower carpet. The pookalam represents everything about Nature that is attractive. It also expresses gratitude to God for food and the beauty of creation.
Ordinarily, the pookalam, which comes from Kerala (southern India), is much larger. It is traditionally made especially in order to welcome the legendary and beloved King Mahabali into one's home as the people of Kerala believe that the king makes visits to his kingdom during the festival. Below the sisters dance around the pookalam.
Three other sisters performed another traditional Indian dance.
The sisters distributed gifts from India.
Then the sisters invited everyone to join the chain dance. It is a traditional dance in India that symbolizes unity and expresses joy. The people do this dance together as a community on certain festive days--and dance all night long. On this night the sisters only danced for 10 minutes.
There was only one sister from Lebanon, but Raymonda provided a big presence with her enthusiasm, personality, and love for Lebanon. She first provided a video presentation about her country and how the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon have served the people there during the 30-year war and re-building. She later shared gifts of delicious cashews and pistachios and scented candles.
After a fairly calm evening, Griselda and Dulce invited the sisters to revisit Mexican-style dancing. And many sisters joined in while others watched with delight.
This was one dance Pepis couldn't resist either. She said she has always loved dancing, and she wasn't going to miss this one.
The hombres who inspired the sisters' dancing.