With the cold breeze blowing in, and winter blues coming in, November has approached, knocking on our doors. Personally, I like this month, not just because it prepares us for those long, wintry nights but also because it marks the beginning of several festivals that are an important part of Indian traditions.
As this month reaches its mid, the air gets filled up with an intoxicating vibrancy, great hustle bustle, and merriment that is one of its kind. It marks the advent of one of the greatest and grandest festivals of India.
Any guesses for it? Yes, you’re absolutely right.
When you see people of all age groups, filled with high spirits and exuberance, it's none other than the festival of lights, Diwali.
If you’ll roam around the alleys during this time, you’ll notice that each and every corner of the street invariably sings the glory of Lord Rama’s great victory and his magnificent return. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the kind of gaiety that this festival commands has impacted each one of us in a way no other festival has done or maybe would ever do.
That was and is the charm of Diwali that never fails to leave imprints on our hearts and soul!
Backpedaling in Time- The Mythology!
When I was a kid, I was hardly aware of the legend concerning Diwali or Deepavali. For me (as for most other kids of my age), it was all about crackers, sweets, new dresses and various delectable dishes adorning the tables of our homes. However, when I grew up and was capable enough to understand the true meaning of the festival, my grandmother narrated it all.
As per the legend, Lord Rama was the son of the King of Ayodhya Dasaratha, and the “to be” king of the throne. This was met with huge resentment from his step-mother Kekayi who under the influence of Manthra wanted her own son Bharat to get the royal chair. She influenced the king, who then sent Lord Rama to exile for 14 years, being accompanied by his wife, Mata Sita and his younger brother Laxman.
So, Lord Rama ended up in a forest which was inhabited by several demons. It so happened that Ravana, the demon king, captured Mata Sita and this led to a huge fight between Lord Rama and Ravana, who was ultimately killed by the Lord.
When Lord Rama returned after 14 years of exile, people decorated Ayodhya with diyas so as to welcome him back and to celebrate his victory. Since that day, the tradition of lighting diyas has started in several places across the nation and even abroad.The day is also celebrated as Lakshmi Puja.
Celebrations Across The Country!
With every street decked up, and homes, temples and public places greatly illuminated, the air is filled with Diwali vibes. For me, clay diyas, candles, decorative items and shops full of people constitute the real essence of this festival. The zeal and enthusiasm that Deepavali commands is truly a thing to behold.
This much-awaited Diwali begins with Dhanteras which is believed to bring wealth, prosperity and goodluck. This is followed by Choti Diwali and finally Diwali. For this, people start cleaning their homes a bit early and all the places are decorated. Flowers, lamps and rangolis make up the whole decoration.
On the day of the festival, puja is done in the evening and prayers are offered to the Almighty. Diyas are then lighted and crackers are burst , marking the beginning of a brighter tomorrow, where there will no more be any evil or satanic powers but only love and happiness amongst mankind.
Diwali And Sumptuous Cuisines!
Festivals and food have always been a way of life in India, and none can deny the irrevocable bond that the two share. Any celebration gets in full bloom only when it is filled with different kinds of savory cuisines and desserts.This stands true for Diwali too, where ghee-laden ladoos and hot kachoris simply ratchet up the day.
Well, here are certain dishes that you can prepare this Deepavali to add up to your celebrations.
Evidently, Diwali comes with small but frequent get-togethers all through the week, and what could be a more perfect snack other than the hot and crispy Samosas. Yes, this one snack can make your celebration a bit more crunchy and would surely be an icing on the cake.
An all time favorite appetizer, Paneer Tikkas is a sure-shot hit when the festival spirit is in full bloom. The spiced up, and soft paneer cubes will definitely leave you craving for more with each morsel you have.
Aloo ki Tikki is another much-liked snack that you can try this festival. Aloos fried and made into small patties, dipped in the chutney makes up a great side dish along with the Diwali meal.
Apart from these, you can also try hands on Onion Bhaji, Karanji, Gobhi Ke Pakode, Aloo Bonda, Chirote, Mawa kachori,Chholey, Puri, Lauki ki sabzi, Dahi Bhalla, Puran poli among others.
Well, any auspicious occasion in India is always accompanied by “Thoda Muh Meetha krlo” approach. So, this propitious Diwali, you can make sweets like Gajar ka Halwa, Kaju Katli, Rice Kheer, Gulab Jamun, Soan Papdi, Gujia, Sandesh, Ladoos and yes, my list will go on.
So, just try and make these alluring dishes and enjoy the spotlight amongst your guests!
Indeed, all these sumptuous cuisines makes Diwali a much awaited and longed-for festival among the people.
Diwali is an emotion in India. With joyous hearts and delightful faces, it lightens up every home. Celebrated across several countries, this beautiful festival symbolises the victory of good over evil.
It also gives the message of unity as people from other religions celebrate it with equal enthusiasm and cheerfulness as their own. Deepavali shows us a righteous path and guides us towards goodness, away from the clutches of hatred and evil.