Also known as Deepavali, Divali or the Festival of Lights, Diwali is celebrated in a multitude of forms by several South Asian communities around the world, especially Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain communities. The festival lasts five days: Dhanteras, Naraka Chaturdasi, Lakshmi Puja, Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj. Each day has different rituals, with different delicacies, celebrations and practices undertaken per day, though specific customs vary around the world.
Two friends of &ASIAN shared with us what this time of year means to them:
"When asked what my favourite things are about Diwali, the list can go on. Narrowing it down, one of my most favourite things about Diwali is spending time with my family and all the food my family make. My mum and I make so many varieties of Indian ‘nasto’ (snacks) during Diwali and we share it amongst our family and friends. Another favourite thing of mine about Diwali is lighting candles around my home. Diwali is the Festival of Lights therefore lighting candles around our home is important to us every year as well are doing our daily prayers to our God, Laxmi Mata.
My most favourite memories of Diwali are each year when I visit The Swaminarayan Mandir (Neasden Temple). They decorate the temple beautifully and have many food stalls outside for people to by food, drinks and other items. I remember a few years ago, I had visited the temple during Diwali and was lucky enough to seek the blessings of our Guru, Mahant Swami Maharaj. It is something I will never forget and will remember for a lifetime."
"For me, Diwali means eating traditional food and spending time with my family, especially my aunty and my grandma when she is visiting from India.
My aunty makes loads of delicious Indian snacks and sweets. She would make sweet and savoury murukku (crunchy, buttery Indian snack made from fried dough), sweet paniyaram (fried rice flour doughballs) and gulab jamun (a deep fried Indian doughnut with saffron coated in a syrup glaze).
As you can see, it is a super indulgent time when we eat foods that we wouldn’t have every day. My favourite is gulab jamun, which was also my grandpa’s favourite sweet and always remind me of him.
Typically in India, families would eat tiffin on Diwali. It is usually a light meal eaten at either tea time or breakfast. Tiffin would consist of idli (a savoury rice cake) served with a curry gravy called sambar. This is something my aunty would make on Diwali if I came to visit. You would usually eat a lot of sweets on Diwali, so the tiffin would break that chain of indulgence with a healthy meal.
My aunty always decorates her house with plenty of candles which is traditional for Diwali. We would have an Indian Tamil television channel on in the background through the day as we graze through all the snacks. My grandma would sometimes step away to watch her Tamil soap dramas which she sincerely keeps up with every day.
Our last Diwali in 2020 was spent in a national lockdown. I missed spending time with my family, but kindly my aunt and my dad sent me some Indian sweets to share with my partner.
We spent Diwali making some Indian home food. I made thayir sadam (rice mixed with yoghurt), Spicy Mumbai potatoes and mixture of cauliflower and red onion which we roasted. These aren’t traditional Diwali foods, but we had just moved into a new house after spending the first lockdown in a flat with a tiny kitchen and I wanted to venture into trying some traditional home food."
- Narmadha Kothadapani
Happy Diwali wherever you are in the world from &ASIAN!