A Hindu festival with lights, held in the period October to November. It is particularly associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and marks the beginning of the financial year in India.
Yes that’s right lovely unicorns, in just over a week, every Indian around the world will be celebrating like it’s the best thing ever, because on the 3rd of November, it is Diwali. Can I get a hell yeah?
So for every non-Indian, you’ll all be like ok whatever. But for an Indian person, Diwali is like Christmas. You get the most delicious food, you get new clothes, you go to so many parties and events and you get presents. So for children, Diwali is one of the best times of the year.
But fun stuff aside, Diwali also forms as a time of coming together, reunions and forgiveness. Each Indian’s sins and wrongdoings are removed and we pray and ask for forgiveness. Our hatreds towards others are washed away and we start anew. We also pray for prosperity and a good year to come. Diwali is a time to release all the negativity and start fresh.
And then in the house, Diwali means spring-cleaning. Every Indian household without a doubt does this. And I’m not talking about the dusting and vacuuming of the house. Oh no it’s a lot worse. We clean and clean and clean. Closets of clothes, linen, food, the pantry, the attic, the garage, the storage everything. And it’s an Indian thing to also make the kids do everything. Our parents excuses always end up being the following:
We’re old. We cleaned when we were young as well
I’m teaching you a life skill. Will you live in a dump when you move out?
Clean otherwise no ladoo (sweets) for you
Meri kamal dhuk rehi hai. Mei sara dhin safai karti rehi hun. Tu be kuch karle! Usually said by mums and translates roughly to my back is hurting. Everyday, all I do is cook and clean. Do something as well!
So the kids clean the house which in my opinion is kinda useless because if your parents are anything like mine, when Diwali rolls around, they redo all the cleaning because what we do isn’t up to their standards.
So the cleaning part can be a bit traumatising, but when you look at your wardrobe and all the clothes are folded, you basically re-evaluate your life and tell yourself you won’t ever mess your clothes up ever again, which is a flawed promise because your wardrobe will be a warzone by the next week.
And finally comes the food. Diwali is the time to cherish just how beautiful the Indian cuisine is. But the highlight of Diwali is definitely the dessert or mithai. Mithai comes in heaps of different forms and from the different parts of India. If I rambled on about each and every one of them, we’d be here all night, so here’s a link of all the different types:
I have a couple of favourites from the list:
- Balushahi: Badushahis (also spelled Bhadushah) are made from a stiff dough made with all purpose flour, ghee and a pinch of baking soda. One-inch-diameter (25 mm), 1⁄2-inch-thick (13 mm) discs are shaped with hands, fried in ghee or oil and dunked in thick sugar syrup so that there is a sugar coating. They are very sweet, but tasty with a slightly flaky texture.
- Gulab Jamun: Gulab jamun gets its brownish red color because of the sugar content in the milk powder orkhoya. In other types of gulab jamun, sugar is added in the batter, and after frying, the sugar caramelization gives it its dark, almost black colour, which is then called kala jam, “black jam”. The sugar syrup may be replaced with (slightly) diluted maple syrup for a gulab jamun with a Canadian flavour. Homemade Gulab Jamun is usually made up of powdered milk, a pinch of all-purpose flour (optional), egg, baking powder and butter; kneaded to form a dough, molded into balls, deep fried and dropped into simmering sugar syrup.
- Jalebi: It is made by deep-frying a wheat flour (maida flour) batter in pretzel or circular shapes, which are then soaked in sugar syrup.
- Pera: Peras are a wonderful and delicious mithai (sweets) that are very popular and are often served during Diwali. Traditionally, it is made with milk that is cooked and cooked and cooked…till it thickens. It has a smooth and silky texture and it just melts in the mouth.
- Ras Malai: Ras Malai consists of sugary white, cream or yellow coloured balls (or flattened balls) of paneer soaked in malai (clotted cream) flavoured with cardamom. Homemade Ras Malai is usually made up of powdered milk, all-purpose flour, baking powder and oil; kneaded to form a dough, moulded into balls and dropped into simmering milk cream. Flour is not commonly used in traditional Ras Malai cooking.
So it is pretty obvious where my sweet tooth comes from, but all of these are the most amazing things you’ll eat. They’re delicious and the thought of these sugary delights makes my mouth water. My mum is actually known best for her Peras and everyone I know loves them, even my non-Indian school friends.
And that’s basically the wraps to Diwali. It’s possibly the best time of year for us and I honestly can’t wait. But in true Indian fashion, we don’t just celebrate on the day of Diwali. We celebrate two weeks before and after. It’s like a huge month of partying. Heaps of fun and definitely a time where some of the best memories are created.