Diwali- The Festival of Lights
Its Huge, its Noisy, its Bright, its the time of Festivities all throughout the Nation and Hindus living around the world. Its Diwali!!!
Now I know I can't say anything about Diwali that hasn't been said before. After all it is one of the oldest festivals that we celebrate. Much talked about and very well known. It celebrates the victory of good over evil and the home coming of Lord Rama.
I really liked this video of the US president Barack Obama wishing everyone a Happy Diwali. Much like Christmas, the preparations for Diwali begin almost a couple months in advance. Things are carried out in a traditional ritualistic manner keeping in mind the sentiments and customs set by the elders in the house.
As the Diwali day draws near, the preparations get into the fast lane, the race against time begins and everyone moves at a frenzied pace to get everything done before the last minute. Last year, we were getting our home renovated and I remember how the workers and the laborers wouldn't leave till the morning of Diwali. It was such a rush.
This year things were relatively calmer though. Thank God! But we were still doing things till the last day. I love that though, don't you? The drama of putting things of till the last minute, wondering if you'll be able to make it in time or not, the heart racing, the adrenaline- yeah thats what gets my blood pumping! That and participating with the hustling bustling throngs of people that come out of their homes to loot the markets and shop for Diwali. Oh I just love the excitement!
The entire day of Diwali is always spent with extended family- Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents.... fun, fun, fun!
I have a few personal traditions of my own for Diwali. I like to make Rangoli (art with powdered colours to adorn the entrance to the house, to welcome guests) and put Mehendi or a henna tattoo on my hands. I absolutely have to do this before the sunrise of the Diwali day.
This is my rangoli for this year. Something very simple, I didn't have much time on my hands.
The lights on the Rangoli comes from Diyas or earthern lamps that are lit with the help of cotton dipped in ghee or oil.
This is my Mehendi for this year. The darker it comes out, the better it is considered.
You know when we were kids, we used to have this long break of 21 days as a Diwali vacation. But the teachers didn't want us to forget our studies, so they used to give us a ton of Diwali homework which of course would be left till the last day of vacation and finished with the help of our parents. I hope none of my teachers are reading this at the moment! There are so many fond memories associated with this festival, I can't imagine my life without celebrating Diwali.
I just hope though that people would stop the bursting of fire crackers. That too begins a month prior to Diwali and lasts well till almost 20-25 days after Diwali. And for all those 45 odd days or so, you can hear fire crackers in the wee hours of morning till laaaaate at night. People, my humble request to you, celebrate Diwali with your hearts not fire crackers.
I do realise that this blog is about food, how could you think I'd forget that! I made Bhaji-Pav for dinner on the Diwali day, recipe to follow this post. The days after Diwali are celebrated by gorging on delicious snacks, most of them fried and leading straight to calorie hell, but hey, Diwali comes just once a year. And who's complaining when you can stuff your mouth with sweet and savoury dishes that will break any steely resolve. I wish I had the time and energy to make all these at home. We used to when we were kids, with out mom patiently making these in the kitchen, but not anymore. I rely on a few trusted stores to provide me with these delicious snacks anytime I want!
There's a ton of variety and here's just a little teeny tiny sample.
Feast your eyes.... for this shall come only on the next Diwali. Till then to all my friends who celebrate this wonderful festival and even to those who don't, a VERY HAPPY DIWALI to you. May God illuminate your lives with true love and compassion towards your fellowmen.To all my Gujju friends- Saal Mubarak!