Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Indian Rosh Hashanah

This post is very late but I've been waiting for the pictures to go along with it and haven't been able to get them until now.

At the end of September I celebrated a very sweet Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) in India. After our first term exams ended, we had a ten day vacation from school. AFS planned a trip to a North-Western city called Ahmedabad for four days, and since my host mom and brothers were going to Kerala (a neighboring state) for a wedding, I spent the first four days of holiday at my host mom's older brother's house. I had a fun time with my host Uncle, Aunt, Grandmother, and two cousins Shruti and Sona. I mostly just relaxed and read books, as Shruti and Sona were still in school.

A traditional part of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) is a round Challah (traditional bread). The problem was that most Indian families don't have ovens, since most food here is cooked on stove tops. The ovens that do appear in homes here tend to be mistaken for microwaves by foreigners like me--in fact, many Indian ovens actually double as microwaves. My Aunt and Uncle don't have any kind of oven or microwave in their house, so I went to fellow YES Abroad student Cee's house to bake Challah and celebrate Rosh Hashanah!

I'm glad to report that my first time baking in an Indian oven was very successful! I'll admit that I was a little skeptical that the microwave sitting on the counter was also actually an oven, but it actually worked out really well. When everything was ready, we had grape juice, apples and honey, and the Challah, and I said the traditional prayers and lit the candles. These are all traditional elements of a Rosh Hashanah dinner. Challah should be round on Rosh Hashanah to represent the round year. Apples, which are round like the year, and honey, which is sweet, are eaten together to represent a sweet new year. Afterwards, I went home and did the same thing with my host grandmother, aunt and cousins. Although I didn't get to hear the shofar, I had a great Indian Rosh Hashanah, and I got to welcome in the new year not just once, but twice, with two wonderful families.

Me braiding the Challah

Cee's host mom cutting apples for apples and honey

Cee braiding a Challah for the first time!

Challah, grape juice, and Shabbas candles

I'd say the Challah came out pretty well!