Hello on this very auspicious Diwali weekend! Many people celebrated Diwali on Friday and celebrations continue today as well.
This weekend is one of India’s most vibrant and biggest festivals, Diwali (or Deepavali), the festival of lights.
“Deep” means light and “availi” means row, so as the translation suggests, streets, houses and pathways are lit up with endless rows of lights, with everything in full illumination, and the skies are dotted with lights and crackles of firecrackers.
What I would pay to be in India right now! Check out this clip of Diwali celebrations in India. Being in India during Diwali festivities is definitely on my bucket list…but for now I’ll keep that thought for the future!
Diwali’s significance and history is many but in short, it signifies the triumph of good over evil. The lit lamps symbolize going from darkness into light which is to bring about happiness, prosperity and goodwill to ourselves and to others, moving us one step closer to divinity.
President Obama does a nice job of summarizing this in his Diwali greetings. He seems to be a fan of “mithai” (Indian sweets)!
For Diwali we celebrate with lights, decorations and of course, sweets!
During Diwali we light “diyas” small decorated lamps with a cotton wick immersed in ghee (clarified butter).
You may have heard the word “rangoli” from famed chef, Vikram Vij’s take-out restaurant in Vancouver. Rangoli (“rang” meaning colour) is a beautiful floor decoration of intricate designs made from coloured chalk, flour or spices like turmeric. A rangoli is often found at the entrance of a home or temple as a welcoming.
And of course we celebrate with spreads of Indian sweets known as mithai. We make an immense variety of mithai and offer them to guests in colourful or decorated boxes.
A favourite Indian sweet is Gulab Jamun – milk based balls, deep-fried and immersed in a saffron and rosewater syrup. Many other cultures seem to also have deep-fried desserts, and in Indian cuisine, this sweet is by far the most popular and traditional. For that reason, no Diwali table is complete without Gulab Jamun!
A new recipe I made this year, was Pumpkin Ka Halwa (Pumpkin Halwa). Since I had all of that Hallowe’en pumpkin leftovers, I didn’t want it to go to waste!
Pumpkin Ka Halwa
4 cups pumpkin, shredded
2 tbsp. ghee or butter
¼ cup jaggery or raw cane sugar
½ cup cashew halves
1 tsp. Arvinda’s Chai Masala
¼ tsp. nutmeg, to garnish
Method: In a large skillet, melt ghee on medium-low heat. Add jaggery and dissolve into ghee.
Add shredded pumpkin. Place the lid on the skillet and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is cooked.
Remove lid and further reduce until all liquid is absorbed. Fold in cashews and Arvinda’s Chai Masala. Serve warm in a decorative glass with a freshly grated nutmeg.
A couple of questions for the day:
1) Have you ever celebrated Diwali in India? If so, what was it like?
2) What is your favourite mithai or Indian sweet?
Based on your feedback I’ll add those recipes to the site. Thanks and looking forward to hearing about it!
If you’re looking to purchase sweets for Diwali, try Sweet India. Their selection is amazing and they carry Arvinda’s masalas too! Wishing you a very happy Diwali!
A teaspoon of: Delerium featuring Kiran Ahluwalia. Listening to: Indoctrination.