Popularly known as the “festival of lights,” Diwali is primarily a five day Hindu festival which falls between mid-October and mid-November.
For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes.
The name “Diwali” translates into “row of lamps”. Diwali involves the lighting of small decorated, clay lamps called “Diya” which are filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one’s house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome.
Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits, although many now are beginning to realize the deep environmental impact that the firecrackers have and instead chose to only string lights and more diya’s.
During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.
This year, my DH and I spent Diwali with family outside of Pune. We stayed with my SIL and her family. Aai, Baba and a few cousins also came for the celebrations.
It was a wonderful time, full of good fun, amazing food and happy laughter all throughout the house. SIL’s children are getting bigger and seem to be more fun each time we see them.
Aai and SIL joined in Diwali celebrations by being a part of SIL’s Society functions and competitions. They cooked and cooked and we tasted and tasted! Finally it was decided to go with one sweet and one snack. The snack was Kothimbir Vadi and let me tell you…if you’ve never had it…run (don’t walk) to the nearest place and GET IT! It probably won’t be as good as Aai’s and SIL’s but it will still be worth running out for!
Kothimbir is Marathi for Cilantro. This nifty little snack is basically made with fresh cilantro that has been chopped finely and then fried with masala’s, coconut and raisins and then placed onto besan masala flat bread, wrapped and deep fried. YUM!
Below is a representation that looks similar but if I showed you Aai/SIL’s Vadi…I’d have to…well you know. 😉
Aai and SIL won all their entered competitions with first place! We were so proud!
We also had a lovely family puja where everyone dressed up in their finest and newest clothing. Below is a close up of Aai and my sari…we wore the same color/fashion sari this year and didn’t even know it!
Afterwards my DH and his brother and his children went out to light the crackers. I went to take some pictures and the one I used above it just one of many I took.
My SIL and cousins went door to door to distribute sweets and snacks. Aai and I stayed to receive the same from friends and neighbors who stopped by. We had enough so that we did not have to cook dinner that night!
After going to bed, the crackers continued on till the early morning. I was expecting to go outside and find huge amounts of paper from burst crackers littering everything like we see every year for a few days in our own Society, but the workers were already outside cleaning these up. When we left from my SIL’s city the day after, the roads were also very clean. Pune has a lot to learn!
So, that was our Diwali this year! How was yours?
© 2012 Gori Rajkumari