Sunday, October 30th, 2016
What’s not to love about Diwali? We used to light our house with candles, the only time candles were lit in my childhood was either when we had a power cut or Diwali.
Festival of Lights
When you only light fire hazardous candles once a year, light fireworks with your guests and not forgetting the lovely atmosphere amongst the friendly faces in the temple, where you light those little tea lights, you know it’s that special time of year, guests will arrive at some point and it’s a truly magical occasion, that’s how I remember Diwali, occasionally, it’s fallen on my birthday too!
Krish remembers phull chireah, flower birds, sparklers to us all, he’s right no Diwali celebration would be complete without sparklers.
We certainly didn’t celebrate for five days, it always seemed rushed, after school/work celebrations, but it was special.
Traditionally, there’s an essential trip to that Halwai (the Indian Sweet shop) and its’ long queues, deep fried savouries, like pakoras and somosas along with those yummy Indian sweets, ras malai (milky, cheese dumplings) used to be my favourite, but fresh, hot and crispy jalebis are my new favourites, especially now I can cook them!
Krish’s mum would cook various dishes, either sweet or deep fried so there’s a pattern emerging.
As well as the curries, I can remember having chole, bhatura, chickpeas and deep fried, fluffy breads, one of my favourite childhood meals.
It’s Diwali and an extravagant celebration!
It’s a time when the dads drink and gamble, the only time it’s not frowned upon, looking back, wow, how did they have the energy to go shopping, entertain us and then head off to the pub to drink and gamble?
There’s the story of Rama and Sita, where Rama was exiled and returned home after 14 years and the burning lamps guided him home. Each legend celebrates good over evil, the fresh start, light over darkness, basically, a new year and beginning, the paths lit to come back home.
This year, we won’t be celebrating as we lost a very special member of our family and it will just be an ordinary day for us, hopefully we will have happier times next year.
When we do celebrate, we have fireworks, candles would be lit and I cook the special Indian treats, especially sweets, Krish won’t admit it but he loves halva, semolina pudding, a mug each of butter and semolina, fried until golden, add a sugar syrup using the same mug to measure sugar and water, add to the semolina mix and it’s an almost instant pudding, it’s so sweet, you can add coconut, dried fruits and nuts although I don’t as it reminds us of the kara parshad at the temple, which is usually made from flour.
The regional celebrations vary greatly in India, but the festival of light, regardless of religion remains the same, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and many others will participate in events, all over the world and in UK, Trafalgar Square, London and Leicester have organised festivities, just brilliant for multi-cultural Britain, don’t you agree?
Lajina Leal, Founder, Lajina Masala
Lajina had a Corporate Career as an Accountant for many years and whilst discussing an impending redundancy in an Indian restaurant with her friends, they persuaded her to set up an Indian Cooking School.
The fun started in October 2013 and the business has grown from strength to strength.