Perhaps the only festival where cultural diversity is most visible; it is fascinating to get an insight into how Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs not just in India, but Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal and the world over come together to celebrate. Whether the reason is to invite Goddess Lakshmi into the house, commemorate the return of Lord Sri Ram or simply celebrate with family and friends, we bring you a glimpse of Deepavali in two chosen homes from our city.
Busy as a bee in preparation of the festive season, Vibha Agarwal spends a few minutes sharing her views and the family’s traditions for the festive season.
“Firstly there’s a lot of work (laughs) and a lot of cleaning is involved. The entire house is cleaned before the festival starts. For us, the festival Diwali is a five-day celebration. I only look forward for happiness in the family and this festival brings a lot of happiness. Especially with everyone adhering to such busy schedules, when they finally come together on this day for celebrations, it is very nice to see everyone together and rejoicing. I prepare sweets for the family. As Diwali is celebrated because Rama has come back to Ayodhya, we celebrate His arrival as it symbolises peace and harmony among everybody.”
Amit Agarwal his very focussed about what Diwali means; networking and indulging! He plainly says, “I look forward to meeting all my relatives and friends and of course for all the sweets which are made for this day. For us, Diwali is just as important as Sankranti is to an Andhraite. It is the festival that compels us to forget work and commitments regarding work and finally make time for family and friends. The festival symbolises peace, time to celebrate triumph of good over evil; return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya. It arouses a great feeling of fellowship; we meet our friends and family. It is time to give and share so we make a lot of sweets and souvenirs which we gift to relatives and friends. We get busy preparing for the festivities, ordering sweets, making arrangements to meet or welcome relatives and friends and much more almost 10-15 days before the actual Diwali festivities begin. We visit relatives and friends in the week before Diwali to exchange greetings, sweets and spread goodwill. We believe that since Rama is back in Ayodhya, peace prevails all over, its time to spread goodwill and fellowship.“
As important as Diwali is to the adults, children have their own perspective about the festivities as expressively put by their son, Karhik Agarwal; “What is Diwali without crackers and lights, I love rockets and bombs. ‘Single ladi’ is my favourite. You have to light it with your hand and throw it away; I think that’s a lot of fun. And in sweets, I look forward to having Gunjaya. It is only prepared on this day and I wait throughout the year for this sweet. On the day of Diwali I stay at home and spend time with family. The day before Diwali, on Chote diwali, I go the club and spend time with friends.“
For the coating:
All purpose flour (Maida) – 1/2 kg
Clarified butter (Ghee) – 200gms
For the filling:
Khoya – 1/2kg
Cashew nuts – one small cup
Almonds (badam) – one small cup
Raisins (kismis) – one small cup
Pistachio (pista) – one small cup
Cardamom (elaichi) – as per one’s preference
Chirongi nuts (charoli) – one small cup
Dry coconut powder – one small cup
Semolina (Bombay ravva or suji) – 2tbsp
Sugar (powdered) – 200gms
The outer covering: Rub the ghee into the flour and make soft dough using sufficient water.
For the Filling: Roughly chop the dried fruit and nuts in a mixie – it should not be a fine powder, but a nutty mix. Add the khoya and mix well. Roast the semolina in a bit of ghee and add to the mixture. Add the powdered sugar and coconut powder, mix well. Divide the mixture in to small balls and keep them aside.
The making: Take a bit of the dough (roughly smaller than a lemon) and roll it out, it should be about puri size. Place a ball of the filling in the lower half of the puri, fold the top half over, covering the filling, to form a semi-circle with the filling in between. Seal the ends with a bit of pressure or by wetting the edges slightly. Ensure that the filling mixture is sealed within. Similarly make stuffed gujiya with the rest of the dough and filling. Fry each gujiya till golden brown in hot oil on a low flame. Drain on a tissue paper and store in an airtight container.
“A very big celebration, a happy occasion and a the day that we invite Goddess Dhanalakshmi into our homes. I believe that on this day, the more beautifully we decorate Goddess Dhanalakshmi, the more prosperity my family will have in the coming future,” says Mrs Jyoti Valiveti. She goes on to add, “I make sure I get a lot of new things for the house and decorate the God with all new coins and notes. We have a coin collection, including the denominations of Rs 100, Rs 150 to Rs 1000 coins. Every year I try to keep my decorations based on a theme; this year I am planning on a pink and gold theme. Food, sweets and savouries are also a very important aspect of the festivities. And since a lot of friends and relatives keep dropping by, I make lots of food for that day. As a tradition, every year I make pulihora, vada, chakar pongali and poornam buriliu.“
For Mr. Koteshwar Rao, Diwali is equally special. “My wife decorates the house in a conspicuous style; this is afterall, a festival of lights, decoration and wealth! And while she decides the décor and theme, I assist her, I am just a participant and an assistant to my wife that day,” he says with a big smile. “We have a grand celebration as many friends and relatives gather at our home, we all enjoy the festivities together. On the day before Diwali, on narakachaturdasi, we burn a cracker symbolising burning the evil and on Diwali all family and friends get together.”
Rice – 1 glass
Green gram (mung dal/pessara pappu) – 1/4 glass
Cashew nuts chopped – 3 to 4 spoonfuls
Almond (badam) slivers – 3 spoons
Cardamom powder (elaichi) – 1/2 spoon
Powdered Jaggery – 1 glass
clarified butter (ghee) – 4 spoons
Milk – 2&1/2 glasses
Wash the rice and green gram. Add the milk and pressure cook the rice, dal and milk in a cooker for four whistles. Lightly fry the cashew to a light brown in little ghee in a thick vessel. Set aside. Add the remaining ghee and cook the powdered jaggery in it for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cooked rice and dal mixture, stir well and let it cook covered for about five minutes. When done, take it off the flame, add the cardamom powder and fried cashew. Garnish with the slivered badams and offer it to Goddess Lakshmi.