For 1.4 billion people in India, Diwali is happy times… Diwali is celebration time, and Diwali is family time.
Diwali is the festival of Lights, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
Jason experienced his first Diwali in 2014, around the same time we got married here during Diwali times.
We thought it was about time Noah got to celebrate one of the major Indian festivals in his Mother’s mother land. So we packed our bags and took that never ending flight to India from Miami.
Diwali celebration usually spans five days, with each day having its own significance and set of traditions.
First Day (Dhanteras): This day marks the beginning of Diwali. People traditionally buy gold or new kitchen utensils as a sign of good luck.
Second Day (Naraka Chaturdasi or Chhoti Diwali): This day commemorates the defeat of the demon Narakasura, symbolizing the removal of evil.
Third Day (Lakshmi Puja): The main day of Diwali is dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. People light diyas (oil lamps) and candles around their homes and participate in prayers.
Fourth Day (Padwa): This day holds significant cultural and spiritual importance in Hindu tradition. Padwa is celebrated as the New Year’s Day, symbolizing new beginnings and fresh starts. People dress in new clothes, prepare special dishes, and visit friends and family to exchange greetings and good wishes.
Fifth Day (Bhai Dooj): The festival concludes with this day, which celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters.
The preparations for Diwali start weeks in advance. Homes and businesses are cleaned, renovated, and decorated. Markets are abuzz with people buying gifts, new clothes, sweets, and firecrackers.
The hallmark of Diwali is the lighting of diyas (oil lamps) and candles inside and outside homes and buildings. People also use electric lights for decoration, creating a spectacular display of lights.
Rangoli, intricate and colorful designs made on the floor using colored powders, rice, or flowers, is another significant aspect of Diwali decoration.
The whole city is lit with decorative lights, and festivity is in the air.
Prayers and offerings to various deities are a significant part of Diwali. Lakshmi is especially revered during this time. Many households perform the Lakshmi Puja to invite prosperity and good fortune.
The nights of Diwali are illuminated with grand fireworks displays. Although this practice has faced criticism in recent years due to concerns over noise pollution and environmental impact, it remains a popular tradition.
The festival is synonymous with a variety of delicious snacks and sweets, each region of India bringing its own unique flavors and culinary traditions.
Sweet treats include the ever-popular Laddoo, spherical and rich in nuts and dried fruits.
Karanji, also known as Gujiya in some regions, is a traditional Indian sweet that is especially popular. It’s a delightful pastry with a distinct half-moon shape, known for its crispy outer layer and sweet, flavorful filling.
Others include Gulab Jamun, deep-fried dough soaked in sugary syrup; Kaju Katli, a delicate confection of cashew nuts and sugar, often shaped into diamond-like slices; and the crispy, syrupy swirls of Jalebi. Rasgulla offers a soft, spongy contrast, while Barfi provides a dense, milky sweetness.
The savory side is no less enticing, with Chakli, known for its distinctive spiral shape and crunchy texture. Chakli is typically made from a mixture of rice flour, urad dal flour, and various spices such as cumin and sesame seeds.
This dough is then shaped into spirals and deep-fried until crisp and golden brown. The result is a deliciously crunchy and flavorful snack that’s perfect for sharing with family and friends during festive occasions.
Shev, also known as Sev, is a popular Indian snack known for its crispy texture and spicy flavor. It’s a type of deep-fried noodle-like snack made primarily from gram flour (chickpea flour), seasoned with a variety of spices.
Chivda is a light yet flavorful mixture that typically includes dried flattened rice (poha), an assortment of nuts like peanuts and cashews, and various spices. These ingredients are sautéed together with mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, asafoetida (hing), and sometimes green chilies and raisins for added flavor.
Beyond its religious connotations, Diwali is a time for family reunions, special meals, and cultural get togethers.
This year’s India visit was specially planned around Diwali so Noah can learn his Indian culture and traditions.
We will round it off with Goa for Jason’s birthday before heading back home. Wishing all my readers a prosperous and happy year… Happy Diwali!!
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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