Diwali…the festival of lights

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We celebrated Diwali on Sunday. Diwali, basically, is a Hindu festival, however, it is celebrated by many other people of other faiths as well. The Hindus have a religious connection and perform pujas (religious worship of goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth) while the others, celebrate the universal belief that good, ultimately, triumphs over evil. They celebrate the essence of the festival. It also signifies light…the internal light that dispels darkness (evil) in any form, hatred, avarice, bitterness, ignorance, and brings joy, peace, and prosperity. So, generally, everyone joins in the festivities of bursting crackers, eating special sweets and food made particularly on festivals. It is also holiday time in schools and offices. There are gaily lit and decorated malls, restaurants and other places where various activities are available that kids and family can take part in…fairs, exhibitions, new movie releases, you name it. So, everyone is in a joyful mood and enjoys the festival in different ways.

Traditionally, diyas (earthen lamps) are used to decorate the house. However, the modern way is to use tea lights and electric lights. The cities, especially in the northern and western areas, where it is celebrated most, look beautiful as every house is lit up, the Malls, the markets, and shops are all decorated and illuminated. It’s a bit like New York or any such city in the US, at Christmas time, I suppose.

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Rangolis decorated with flower petals and tea lights.

My daughter-in-law celebrates Diwali and so, we had the entrance of our home illuminated. We also had rangolis. Rangolis, again are a traditional thing. They’re made as wet or dry paintings/designs using a white material like chalk, sand, paint or flour. Even paints, colored rice-water, gypsum powder, colored sand or dry colored powders. Often materials like seeds, grains, spices, leaves or flower petals are also used either as the only element or in combination with other materials. Modern materials like crayons, dyes or dyed fabrics, acrylic paint are also becoming common, allowing for brilliant and vibrant color choices We couldn’t do any such thing here. So, I decided to make re-usable rangolis on hand-made paper sheets (that was last year) and having preserved them well we were able to use them again. The hand-made paper was the color of the floor, off-white, and once the flowers concealed its taped edges…it looked like the real deal! The tea lights added the rest.

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Re-usable rangolis painted on very fine hand-made paper.

She even cooked us a meal which is made customarily in her home at Diwali. Delicious! The traditional sweetmeats were also on the table. A party at a friend’s place, Diwali gifts for the kids…and we notched another Diwali on foreign shores.

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The Diwali centerpiece on the dining table

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Diwali mithai (sweets) Green: Pistachio barfi, Yellow: Besan ladoo (chickpea flour ladoo) and orange: Moti chur ladoo (also made from chickpea flour)

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