Diwali is the popular and the most colorful and vibrant festival celebrated in India. I am happy to invite you all to step into my home to see how we celebrate Diwali. I assure you, this post is going to be a feast for your eyes.
Diwali or Deepawali as we say in the south means celebrate with lights. Diwali symbolizes the victory of good over bad, light over darkness. That is why all these candles are lit on the dark moon night. It is also celebrated to worship Goddess Lakshmi, who is the embodiment of wealth and prosperity.
In India festivities start weeks before Diwali. Houses and Store fronts get decked up with lights and flower garlands. People dress up in very pretty traditional clothes, visit friends and family and exchange sweets and gifts. You can see fire works throughout the holiday season. Many families who live abroad like us are not able to go home for this holiday season so we celebrate it wherever we are in such a wonderful way.
Welcome to my home !
The first thing that greets you when you step into our home during this festive season is the Rangoli or kolam which is a very colorful drawing done using fine sand which is colored and mixed with glitter, It just sparkles in the candle light!
It is traditionally drawn on the floor in the front entry or your hall way but if you have carpeted floors you can’t do this and in wooden floors, sometimes the color seeps into the wood which is very hard to clean. So I found an ingenious way, I drew this on a side table and placed it in the entry way. During the rush hours I can move this to the corner of the room so it doesn’t get disturbed .
This grid above shows you how the pattern evolved. I drew this free hand. As for tools, I just used a scraper to keep the lines clean and a tiny brush to dust off the excess other than that it is 100% hand drawn, no stencils of any kind. This is just a tiny sample, in India we make really big ones.
Rangoli – Very Colorful Indian Sand Art
Look how beautiful it is ! The reason for drawing this is to invite good vibes into your home. Even though it is drawn on the floor, no one steps on it, even small kids are taught to go around it. In our culture shoes are not allowed inside the home, it has to be left outside in a dedicated shoe closet kept near the front door.
We decorate our home with jewel colored ornaments and charms. Red, green and gold are the preferred colors. Now you are at my door step, you will see this beautiful door ornament. This elephant charm is hung for a special reason because it is believed Lord Ganesha, who has an elephant head will ward off all the evil eyes. Red is considered a very auspicious color for us so many of us paint our front door red. In the hallway we place a small Diwali themed vignette with candles to welcome good vibes.
Candles galore in this festive holiday season. You see these beautiful candles they are from my home town, there is a small village where generations of potters have dedicated their lives to make these beautiful hand crafted terracotta Diyas (candles). Which is very carefully packed and exported all over the world. Indian grocery stores sell them only during Diwali season, You can buy them online or at your local Diwali fest. I even found some in Pier 1 Imports.
You can arrange them in beautiful groups, In a straight line or in a circle.
On the day of Diwali these beautiful lights adorn my table top.
I love this particular one with cut work on it. It looks like one piece but it has a bowl to hold the tea light and you can cover it with a lid, look at the glow that comes through it. I can’t take my eyes off it. These hand painted Diyas are my priced possession.
We decorate our window sills too, I made this year’s display an elephant themed one
This display is a mix and match of candle holders I have been collecting for years. I stacked the smaller ones on top of other candle holders to create height to make this display interesting.
Even Our coffee table gets adorned with this fengshui inspired display.
We Indians are known for our hospitality, we always offer our guests something to drink or eat, especially on the festive days it is a tradition to offer them this delicious warm almond milk just to make them feel welcomed, it is perfect because the wheather gets chilly here during the last week of October. It just soothes you the minute you take a sip. We make the spice mix for this milk ahead so less stress when entertaining guests.
This is how it’s made.
- Almonds, cane sugar, cardamom pods and saffron are powdered together
- It’s sifted many times to get this fine powder and stored it in a air tight jar.
- In a sauce pan, bring whole milk to a boil then add this powder.
- Mix it well and let it simmer for sometime.
- Just before serving, we add a very very tiny pinch of edible camphor to make this milk even flavorful
The smell of cardamom fills your house which is an indication of the festive times.
The saffron gives this beautiful golden yellow color.
Sweets And Savory Snacks
Now let’s talk about food. Our festive spread is a good mix of sweet and savory things. Diwali is not complete without tasty treats. Especially sweets play an important role in this festival because they are given as gifts. Northern part of India is known for their delicious and decadent sweets these are my family’s favorite.
Sweets from the North
Kaju katli is a diamond shaped tasty sweet made only with cashews sugar and cardamom.
Rasgulla – which is a soft cloud like delicate treat made with cottage cheese and soaked in sugar syrup.
Gulab jamun is favored by all the kids and the grown ups, these are made milk solids, deep fried into this golden brown color and then soaked in this flavorful syrup made with sugar, rose extract, saffron and cardamom.
Pistachio rolls are made of sweetened almond flour and then stuffed with pistachios.
Doda Burfi, these very tasty squares are made with cream of wheat and it loaded with all different types of nuts and coconut with a tiny hint of nutmeg.
All these sweets just melt in your mouth. I am warning you it is so delicious and very hard to stop with one, no wonder we all put on a couple of pounds after Diwali. These sweets are available in this mini bite size packs. Look how adorable they are! this way you can have one of each kind without any guilt.
Savory snacks from the South.
South India is known for these deep fried crispy and spicy savory snacks, These are the very popular ones.
Murukku – this twisted snack is hand made made with rice flour and studded with cumin seeds.
Ribbon pakoda is made of chickpea flour and chili powder which is nice and spicy
Mullu Murukku is made with lentil flour and butter specially for kids which is very mild and it’s pressed though a special gadget to get this spiky shape.
Thattai – this round and spicy snack is made of rice and lentil flour and flavored with garlic.
Thukkada, these wheat crisps are very easy to make, wheat flour spiced with salt and pepper is made into a thick dough then cut into strips and deep fried.
Diwali In Our City
Our Indian association organizes a Diwali Fest at the seaport. Every year it is conducted on the first week of October when the weather is pleasant. I love to attend this outdoor carnival like event since it feels like you are in India. You get to eat authentic Indian food, buy beautiful Indian clothes, fashion jewelry and handmade artifacts. There is live performance of music and dance and it ends with fireworks.
This year I found this interesting thing called Mobile Rangoli at the Diwali fair
This can be placed anywhere in your house no matter what type of floors you have.
Most of us have carpeted floors, we find it hard to draw Rangoli . This is specially invented to solve this problem. These are made of wood or cork board and beautifully hand painted and designed in eye catching colors. You can arrange them in so many different ways, its easy to move and it is reuseable.
Isn’t this amazing. Look how beautiful it is. I mixed it up with the jeweled tea lights.
We do Pooja at home, wear new clothes and attend prayer service in our temple. If family lives close by we get together for a big lunch and each family gets to bring their special dish to share. They are told in advance and they are given the choice of starters, sides, main course or dessert. It is hosted in our grand parents house or our parents house or at our oldest sibling’s house each year and they take turns.
Me and my small group of friends gather a week before Diwali for a potluck style lunch and enjoy our homemade treats.
My family has a special tradition. I personalize one new set of candle holders every year and buy one new set for each of my daughters, I have been doing this since their birth. They are young now but when they get married, they get to take all these beautiful diyas to adorn their own homes, cherish them and pass it on to the next generation.
These beautiful things are my daughters pick for this year. Looks so beautiful when it’s lit up.
Finally when the guests leave we give them a small take home gift which can be as simple as a pack of candles or homemade treats. We place this Arathi plate near the door, which has flowers, a lamp, turmeric and kumkum and some orange and lemon flavored candies sometimes we keep apples or tangerines instead of candies. On their way out, women touch the turmeric and kumkum (yellow and red powder) and put it on their forehead and take a flower. Men and kids take the candy or fruit.
This is called Thambulam. It is a South Indian tradition done to send the guests with a good note.
India is all about wonderful traditions and rich culture. We are best known for our hospitality, flavorful food, colorful clothes, lovely music and vibrant festivals. Even though me and my family live far away we like to keep the traditions alive so our kids get to know their roots.
Hope you all enjoyed this extra long tour, Thank you for stopping by!
Diwali is not only celebrated in India , it is also a big festival in so many other countries so I like to wish all my fellow bloggers from all over the world
✨✨✨A Very Happy Diwali ! ✨✨✨
All rights reserved ©savvysouthindian.com