Diwali, has become increasingly popular the UK over the years and it is the festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs (on 28-30 October this year – dates vary according to the Indian lunar calendar). Diwali is not just celebrated mainly in India but also in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore where the festive fare reflects local traditions. Most people from Indian subcontinent are often heard saying “Diwali is like Christmas back home”, and in many ways it is. Like Christmas, Diwali is known for family times, celebrations and a lot of eating. But outside vague notion of "eating Indian" most people outside the subcontinent are not familiar with common Diwali foods.
So gets eaten during the Diwali festival?
Sweets would be an immediate answer. Mithai, known commonly in India is not necessary sweet only and it can be a selection of snack that may suit the spicy palate. These sweets and savouries can vary from one region to region. The preparation of Diwali snacks at homes can start a month before the festival starts and women can often turn this into a social activity.
The list of Diwali special sweets can include freshly made Kheer, Gajar Ka Halwa, Barfi, Ladoo of various types like Besan and Karanji, Gulab Jamun, Suji Halwa, Kajoo Barfi, Milk Cake. some of other items like "mawa kachori, “moti pak” and “sohan papdi” are more regional specialities requiring elaborate preparation. It's customary to exchange extravagantly decorated boxes of mithai, dried fruit, nuts or silver serving dishes with family and friends. Selection of dry Fruits are also in high demand during Diwali.
Director, Sudhakar at Fat Papaya says “ Diwali is a time when your hand automatically reaches out to those special Mithai’s instead of the typical western chocolates. You eat Chocolates all year round but during Diwali traditional Mithai’s add more to the festive mood”
One of the customers at Fat Papaye, Mr. Pramod Mohanan shared with us that he placed an online order for the delivery of Diwali Mithai (sweets) in India and US a month in advance, such is the craze of Diwali and its food.
Along with sweet dishes there are some savoury favourites too.
These include Dahi-Bhalle, Karanji, Samosas, Pakora, Mathiyya, Ghathiya and Aloo Tikki
Q: Why is Diwali celebrated?
A: Diwali is a word that actually refers to a row of clay lamps. The Hindu Diwali celebration marks the beginning of the Hindu new year. Known internationally as the Festival of Lights, people observe the celebration by adorning their homes and workplaces with candles, lamps and small electric lights. Return of Ram, Sita and Lakshman after winning over Ravan is often mentioned as another reason why Diwali is celebrated.
Q: What are some key facts about Diwali?
A: Diwali is celebrated between the middle of October and the middle of November, and it means "rows of lighted lamps," according to BBC. It symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, and it is celebrated in a five-day period. Diwali, otherwise known as the festival of lights, is the most significant festival in the Indian culture, and it is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. On the first day of the festival, houses are cleaned and decorated, and on the following day, women decorate themselves and make colorful rangoli floor patterns. The main celebrations are held on the third day, otherwise known as Lakshami Puja, according to BBC. During the third day, the celebrants wear their best outfits, say prayers otherwise known as pujas, light diyas and fireworks, and thereafter feast and enjoy sweets and desserts, according to BBC.
Q: How long does Diwali last?
A: Diwali is a Hindu festival that lasts for five days, culminating in the Hindu New Year. Diwali starts on the fifteenth day of the month of Kartika according to the Hindu calendar. This is usually the month of October or November according to the Gregorian calendar. Diwali is the biggest of all Hindu festivals and is referred to as the Festival of Lights. It is characterized by a display of fireworks and by the lighting of lamps in honor of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. It also marks the return of Lord Ram to the city of Ayodhya. Diwali is an occasion when friends and family members get together and rejoice by feasting, exchanging gifts and dressing up in new attire.