As important as Christmas is to the West, Diwali is to Indians. A festivity of joy, sweet indulgences, noise and celebrations! Our special feature on Diwali attempts to make this festive a little bit more remarkable!
Whether it is just for a day or two, or a grand celebration of five days, but Diwali is the festival that is celebrated by every Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh in India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Nepal and across the globe. This festival of lights invites Goddess Lakshmi into the household. It celebrates the return of the Lord of Ayodhya, Sri Ram. In some parts of India, this is a five-day extravaganza, for some a three-day festival and for the rest, its just the day itself. The house is decorated with flowers, diyas and elaborate rangolis, and the aroma of traditional sweets and savouries fill the air. For the North Indians, it is a five-day festival. Two days prior to the actual Diwali day (amavasya) is ‘Dhante Ras’ (trayodashi), a day when one buys silver, light a single diya for the festivities and worship it. The next day is Chota Diwali – when eleven diyas are lit and worshipped. On the actual day of Diwali, Lakshmi puja takes predominance; diyas are lit and placed all around the house. The evening is for crackers and celebrations with family, friends, and neighbours. The following day is ‘Gowardhan puja’, when traditionally cows are worshipped and on the fifth day, ‘Bhai Dhuj’ is celebrated. On this day, married women invite their brother home for a feast. While in South India, the festivities centre over two days – Naraka Chaturthasi and Deepavali Amaavasya. In many areas, the festivities start out at the crack of dawn and carry on well into the night.
Diwali is a festival for children as much as it is for adults. Soak in the festivities this time with a bit of flair and a bit of something extra – make this Diwali unforgettable for you, your family and friends by trying something new, something different. Plan a grand party, a lavish spread of goodies, share the day with orphans, surprise your friends with special gifts or escape from it all and spend the day luxuriating in a spa. Yo! Vizag has tips, suggestions and ideas to make this Diwali a little bit more special!
When planning a cosy card party or a fireworks party, get the date and the guest list right. See to it that the date does not clash with any of the festive days, as invariably family takes precedence over friends on festive days. Keep the guest list easy and lively with your close friends and people who will get along well; be wary of putting together a group of complete strangers from different spheres of your life. Do all your shopping at least 3-4 days earlier, including accessories and cutlery for the food, and return gifts, party gaming devices, prizes and stuff. Plan smart – order some items from a reliable caterer, use ready-to-eat snacks, make easy yet tasty appetizers or main dish, and enlist your close friends or family to help. If it is a card-party, then make sure that there is a variety of non-greasy finger foods and nibbles. Set up card-tables, keep stacks of cards, to avoid any ambiguity – print out the rules of popular games and display them prominently. Keep the décor traditional with lots of marigold garlands all over, a few floating lamps (avoid too many lit candles or diyas around, every flame is a hazard unless monitored), elaborate rangolis, use paper lanterns, and Indian Classical or Hindustani music in the background. Alternatively go all Las Vegas style with balloons, bright lights, peppy music and a dance floor! Arrange an alternative like a few board games or an x-box for those who do not play cards or who want to quit after a certain point. Stock up the bar with easy to serve and popular drinks, no fancy cocktails as making and serving cocktails would need someone to man the counter all night. Keep in mind the non-drinkers and stock up on juices for them too. Throw in a bit of fireworks at the end of the party, after all this is a festival of lights. Also, hire or designate a driver for dropping the intoxicated guests, be a responsible host.
Choose a Caterer: Many hotels and bakeries deliver for parties, also try Sweet India or Just down the Street.
Shower them with gifts!
Make this Diwali more personal; pick and choose your gifts with care. Consider Gourmet gifts, like an innovative box of cupcakes that are healthy, or a bit of silver, idols and figuries of Ganesha or Lakshmi, sweet hampers, dry-fruit baskets, baked goodies, chocolates and more. Eastern Art Museum on the Sampath Vinayaka road stocks a wide range of selective gifts, handicrafts and accessories, which redefine the notion of gifting. Innovative, traditional and classy these gifts are perfect for any occasion. Select from a array of articles in wood, brass, bone, fabric, leather, handmade paper… Similarly, Pages has a wide array of gifts to opt for – like unique stationary, cards, books and diaries. Or gift bouquet of chocolates! Sweet shops like Sweet India, Ladoo Gopal and such have a wide choice of assorted sweet baskets, dry fruit baskets, savoury treats and more. Do check out Radisa, a chocoholic’s delight. It has mind-blowing chocolate treats like chocolate flowers, bouquets, specially made chocolate visiting cards… check out the Radisa FB page for ideas and inspirations.
Indulgence! It is sweets, sweets and more sweets!
Any festive occasion is all about the sweets – no celebrations is complete without the customary sweet. While making traditional sweets at home is the norm, indulging in the wide array that a sweetshop has to offer, adds to the fun and excitement. “When gifting sweets, the idea is to pick a sweet which has a good shelf-life like sweets made with cashew, badam, pista, anjeer, or the motichur ladoo, which is a popular sweet for gifting in Diwali,” shares the owner of Laddu Gopal. For the diet conscious and diabetics, the store has a range of sugar free sweets made with Relish Sugar Free. Along with Sweet India, the stores offer a delectable array of classy gift pack of sweets and namkeens. But gifting apart, its time to indulge in a mouth watering choice of sweets and savouries or maybe samosas or kachoris or vada pav or ras malais or raj bhog… the choices are as mind-boggling and tough to make as they are delicious! Serve a delicious variety of snacks, nibbles and desserts.
Share the joy!
Diwali is a festival of joy and happiness, the story goes that every house was lit to welcome Lord Rama back into Ayodhaya and that Goddess Lakshmi visits only houses that are brightly lit. Just as a lamp can share so much light, warmth and a sense of happiness, celebrate the festivities in the same manner – spread the warmth and joy of the season. Share the joys of indulging in sweets, crackers and gifts with those who would truly appreciate your gesture and time, spend an evening in an orphanage or even an old-age home. Organise a Diwali night in a children’s home an old-age home. Make this festival brighter for them.