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October 2019



Below, our budding writers, who placed First, Second, and with Honorable Mention, RISHABH KOTHARI, SANVI RAO, SAANVI CHIGARE, ANEESH SEEMAKURTHY, SRUTI KAMUJULA, SIRI CHIVUKULA, and DEVIKA CHAUDHARY, reveal not only their joy in festivals but also their passion for words.

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Group A – Honorable Mention
Diwali with my Grandma!

Last year I celebrated Diwali with my grandparents in USA. It was their first Diwali in USA.

I painted lots of diyas with glitter paint and regular paint. My parents lit them up with fire and put the diyas all around the house and in the balcony. We also put lots and lots of colorful lights outside the house. My grandma made yummy sweets like ladoo and peda and snacks like chakli and sev. It was the first time we made so many sweets and snacks at home. We also bought my favorite sweet kaju katli from store. We all wore new Indian clothes except my baby sister.

We went to temple in the morning and prayed to god. We did puja at home in the evening. My grandma decorated the gods with lots of flowers for puja. We used god bell, god books and arti for the puja. My grandma was reading the god books, my dad was spinning the arti, my mom was holding my baby sister, and my grandpa and I were clapping. All adults were singing god songs for the puja.

We all ate the sweets after the puja. After that we went outside and played with firecrackers. We went to my friend’s house and gave them sweets. We then had a family dinner with delicious food my grandma cooked. We also called my mom’s parents, my aunts and uncles, and cousins in India on video call and wished everyone Happy Diwali.

I enjoyed Diwali with my grandparents very much last year. My grandparents are in India now. Diwali is next day to my birthday this year and I am excited. I am looking forward to celebrating Diwali this year with my parents and friends.

Saanvi Chigare, 6, is a first grader at Northwood Elementary School in Roswell, GA.


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Honorable Mention – Group B
My Favorite Festival

There was a burst of light. There were lanterns filled with ghee and diyas everywhere. Homes were lit with wonderful colors. Beautiful decorations called rangoli could be seen in front of the homes. The scent of delicious food filled the air. It was my favorite Indian festival—Diwali.

The first Diwali I remember was celebrated in India with my grandparents and cousin. I remember the smoky skies, which caused irritation in my eyes.

At our home, the tradition is to wear new clothes on Diwali. We started the preparations a week early and had bought new clothes for everyone including my nanny, Jyoti didi. My cousin and I had gotten the same clothes made. On the day of Diwali, we all wore our new dresses and jewelry. In the morning, I helped my dadima make white colored drawings in front of the house and decorated the inside with flowers. My grandparents gave us gifts and money after we had done our pooja and had welcomed the goddess of wealth in our home. After the pooja, we lighted diyas all over our house. Then my cousin and aunt joined us for the celebrations. There were fireworks being set off everywhere and there was smoke everywhere.

While we were busy celebrating, a rocket whizzed past my mom and singed the side of her eyebrow and burnt her hair. We were very scared but thankfully she was alright. While I was sleeping that night, I smelled smoke and started to worry that something was on fire. I woke my mom and told her about it. She explained to me that it was probably her hair. It was a tiring but fun filled day!

The next year we moved back to America. My mom and aunts continued the traditions that I had seen in India. We did the decorations, we cleaned the house, my mom made a few sweets, though not as good as my dadima. This time I celebrated Diwali with my “American” cousins. All the children, including me, were playing with sparklers. Though we had fireworks it was not as much as I had seen in India. I was not complaining and liked that there was no smoke. The sparklers changed colors and I was in awe. I’d never seen a sparkler quite like that before. My cousins and I attempted to draw pictures with the sparklers in air.

I was old enough now to ask questions about Diwali. Why was it celebrated? Diwali is a celebration of Ram ji’s killing Raavan and returning to Ayodhya to his family. It is the victory of good over evil. I understood the significance of Diwali. I love the story and I have been telling my cousins, who are younger than me, this story. I feel quite knowledgeable and love their expression when they hear the story.

Diwali is my favorite festival. I love it. I get to meet my family, eat traditional Indian food, play with fireworks, and wear beautiful clothes.

Devika Chaudhary, 11, is a sixth grader at Webb Bridge Middle School in Alpharetta, GA.


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Group B – Honorable Mention
Raksha Bandhan

My favorite holiday is Raksha Bandhan (or Rakhi, as my family calls it). It celebrates the importance of having a brother and sister. On the day, the sister ties a rakhi bracelet around her brother’s wrist, in order to pray for his prosperity, health, and well-being. In return, the brother showers his sister with gifts and blesses her, too. As a sister, I get lots of gifts!

I love this festival because it is fun tying the rakhi. Rakhis come in all sorts of shapes and colors, and sisters can choose the one which suits them the most. For example, about two years ago I gave my brother a rakhi with Krishna on it. Krishna is naughty, just like him!

I also enjoy the festival because I get gifts. Raksha Bandhan is one of the many Indian festivals where children get presents. The sister (and very few times brother) gets any gift they like! For instance, this Rakhi I got a Lego set, and a few years before that, I got an art easel.

Finally, and most importantly, people celebrate their brother/sister. Siblings make an important difference in our lives. There are four people that help us: God, parents, friends, and siblings. God cannot help us physically, parents will one day leave us. Friends come and go. Who is the one person left? Siblings! They will stand with us and will help us during good times and sad times. Raksha Bandhan is the perfect opportunity to honor them, pray for them, and bless them.

Raksha Bandhan is the perfect holiday because we celebrate it by having a special time together, with our parents, siblings, and friends.

Siri Chivukula, 9, is a fourth grader at Hawcreek Elementary School in Cumming, GA.




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