Diwali and Food
Diwali…Deepavali…The last major festival in the year for us Indians! This festival goes on for four to five days, starting before and continuing after the actual date of Diwali, which falls on the new moon of the Hindu month of Kartik. Though festival fatigue sets in by the time we come to Diwali, one cannot help but give in to the charm of this thoroughly enjoyable celebration. Every age group has something to do, something to share, and something to enjoy during Diwali
The preparations for the festivities begin much earlier. For some, the cleaning starts weeks before. The entire house is scrubbed, organized and rearranged until it sparkles. For businessmen, it’s the time of the year when they perform major poojas to appease Goddess Lakshmi for a successful & profitable year ahead. The employees look forward with great anticipation to their year-end bonuses during Diwali. Kids look forward to new clothes and people of all ages look forward to bursting the Firecrackers in the evening after the pooja!
One major feature of Diwali is the delicious sweets and savories that we get to eat during Diwali without which the celebrations become insipid and incomplete! Whether a believer or a non-believer of this festival, one helplessly tends to gravitate to partaking in the delicious food available.
India being such a diverse country culinary-wise, there are sumptuous assortments of sweets and savories that get prepared across households or bought from sweet shops, especially for Diwali. With simple ingredients that are locally sourced like Rice, Jaggery, Chickpeas, Dry fruits, Ghee, Oil, Cardamom, Chilli powder, All-purpose flour, etc a divine spread of food gets magically created. Sharing this gift of food with near and dear ones brings everyone closer to each other and makes it that much fun and joyful!
From South India
Ushering in the festival with an early morning shower, many families perform pooja inviting Goddess Lakshmi. She is propitiated with all kinds of sweets and savories that are traditional and mostly homemade. Sweets like Adirasam, Minapa Sunni undalu, laddoos, Bobbatlu, moong dal halwa, chimli, chirotti, mysore pak are just a few of the varieties. These could be called by different names but they are all similar in their making and appearance. Savories like Murukku, Chekkalu, Sakkinalu, Chegodeelu etc are ubiquitous and delicious
From North India
In North India, Diwali is incomplete without deep-fried orange imartis, Kaju barfi, kalakand, or the crispy and flaky ghee-laden balushahis. Gujiyas, Pedas, Laddoos are a must have! Patande, Askloo, Babru are traditional sweets and it’s a ritual in many families to make and share with their loved ones. Who can forget the ever-present Samosas, Namak Pare, and Aloo Bonda savories!
From West India
Known for their love for food the western states like Rajasthan and Gujarat have an assortment of food for Diwali. Golpapdi, Basundi, Dhoodh pak, Mawa, Ghewar, Shankarpali, Puran Poli, Soan papdi, Karanjis are some of the mouth-watering sweets that have to be tasted! Mathiya, Sev, Pakodas and Bajji savories compliment the sweet dishes perfectly
From East India
East India has a delectable variety of sweetmeats and savories for Diwali. Rasgollas, Rasmalai, kheer badam, mihidana, patishapta, khaja, dry fruits sandesh, and anarsa are but a few that bring in the festival spirit. Nimkis, Pakodas, Shinghara, Kordoi are the perfect add-on savories to balance the sweet assaults!
The foods that I mentioned here are only the tip of the iceberg in our Indian festival food landscape! Having grown up in a traditional South Indian family, we always celebrated Diwali with understated pomp. I have beautiful memories of Diwali from my childhood wherein my mom would diligently prepare all the sweets and savories. Pulihora, Sweet rice kheer, Kajjikayalu, bobbatlu, and Minapa garelu are a staple in my home for this festival. My dad would help decorate the house with marigold flower garlands and perform the pooja to Goddess Lakshmi. All the prepared food is offered as Naivedyam to the goddess. All of us kids would sit quietly in the pooja dreaming about the soon-to-eat food!
After the pooja, we would all sit in a row and mom would serve all of us first to eat, and only after we finish would she eat. Evenings are a special time that we would look forward to all year for bursting firecrackers. All of us kids would wear new clothes and my dad would do the evening Arati in the pooja room. We would light up about 20+ oil diyas, offer them to the goddess and then place them all around our house outside. All of us kids would get into friendly squabbles on who would start bursting the firecrackers. My brothers and I would always compete with each other to burst the loudest of the crackers. Ours is a middle-class family so it was not like we had a lot to burn but whatever little we had we enjoyed it. Those were the days!
Nowadays I don’t burst any crackers ( being environmentally conscious and all J) but I definitely enjoy the food that comes with Diwali!
All in all, this is a beautiful festival that brings families and friends close and creates beautiful memories for the kids. Happy Diwali to One and All!
Significance of Diwali :
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