Mardi Gras is a 300-year-old holiday, wrapped in rich tradition and celebration. It started in 1699 in the location of present-day New Orleans, after French settlers held a small festivity deemed Point du Mardi Gras. This unique holiday has gained quite the following in the United States over the last 100 years and is often synonymous with vibrant parties and spectacular floats.
As an American-born Indian raised in small west-Texas towns, my ethnic identity has always been a bit of a question mark to me. My parents valued the importance of integrating my sister and I into American culture, while continuing to honor precious Indian traditions. One tradition that I look forward to every year is Diwali, or the Festival of Lights.
If you search the word “normal,” the definition you’ll see resembles this: “conforming to a standard, usual, typical or expected.” In a world where labels and definitions are engraved in our minds, I am redefining normal.
Eid al-Fitr (“Breaking of the Fast”) is a Muslim three-day holiday, signifying the end of fasting during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar during which the Qur’an was revealed. In this month, it is obligatory for all able Muslims to partake in a month-long fast where they are to abstain from food and drink (yes, even water!) during daylight hours. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, along with a declaration of faith, five daily prayers, giving to charity and a pilgrimage to Mecca. The holy month is also used as an opportunity to build one’s spirituality. At night, Muslims line up to offer a number of optional prayers called “Taraweeh” while listening to and reflecting on the recitation of the Qur’an.