Being a non-Indian, if you go and visit India during the months of October and November you might wonder to see the illuminating and twinkling streets across the nation. You can take the liberty and think that all these decorations have been made for welcoming you. But hey, here you will be a little disappointed to know that all these enticing preparations are not for you but for India’s D-day i.e Diwali.
India which has always been celebrated as a nation of rich culture and heritage, has its month pocketed with some or the other festival to give a glimpse of all that. But Diwali is one such festival which is celebrated all across for various reasons behind it.
This festival has its roots in Hindu mythology. Some ethnic groups believe that Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana returned back to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. People welcomed them with the brightness of lighted lamps. Whereas, other ethnic group believes that it is on this day Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, incarnated. This group generally believes that Goddess Lakshmi visit their places during the festival, thus lit so many lamps to direct Her to theirs. And also keep their doors open during the whole night to make it convenient for the Goddess to shower Her blessings on them. But BEWARE, who knows after this divine visit someone else visit your homes to snatch that divine blessings. So, don’t forget to shut your doors. Haha! Just kidding!
According to Jainism, the founder of the modern Jainism, Mahavir Tirthankar attained his nirvana on this very day. Sikhs celebrate this day because it is on this day all the sikhs gather to take the blessings of their gurus. They have institutionalized this day as a Red-letter day.
Although people have their different reasons to celebrate Diwali, but there is no difference in their spirit and way of preparations. Three concerns go hand in hand in mind of everyone, namely Shopping, Decoration and finally Cuisines. Lets talk on all these things one by one to have the feel of that exuberance.
During Diwali people have reasons more than one to shop. Not only do they have to purchase new dresses but decorative items, gifts and many more things. The Indian markets become all the more busy during these months. The shop owners hire more workers to cater to the needs of customers. They try to lure the customers with so many sales tactics like offering discounts, gift vouchers, lucky prizes etc. But if on one hand the customer gets delighted on the other gets distorted when it comes to make a choice among so many options available to him.
The hustle bustle in the market paves the way for excitement and curiosity among the masses. The happening market atmosphere force them to spend more and more time there only.
Diwali also paves way for some healthy competition among the people. They try to decorate their houses in their best possible way. Diwali gives a privileged position not only to the customers but also to the hawkers. Not only do the hawkers look for their potential customers but also the customer to their potential hawkers. The hawkers try to lure the customers through their display of colourful decorative items and flashable LEDs lights. Despite the continuous rise in prices, these decorative items remain a staple choice among the families. However the traditional handmade diyas never lose their lustre and enjoy a dominant position among all the kinds of lamps.
Finally comes the category for all my epicurean friends. The desserts and sweetmeat form an important part of Indian cuisines. And Diwali becomes an occasion where a remarkable amount of sweats are transferred from one hand to the other. The sweet corners become the ultimate destination of the people. The Confectioners or the salesmen drag (almost literally) the customers inside their shops through their consistent and attractive offers. They give such an exaggerated version of a simple recipe as if it has been imported from abroad exclusively for the present customer. With in no minutes the plates containing lots of sweets gets disappear thanks to the crowd of customers. If in one shop, a shopkeeper struggles with his hands to shoo away the flies visiting his sweetmeats the other uses his sugar-coated words to allure the customers to visit his sweetmeats. However, the real sweetness lies in the home kitchens where people share their culinary expertise with each other to sweeten each and every corner. People make their favourite sweets at home and garnish it according to their tastes.
Although Indians are fond of eating sweets but that does not mean that they undermine the nutritional facts and consume health hazardous dishes with utter pleasure. Many of their dishes don’t compromise with the nutritional values and one of them is cashew fudge or Kaju barfi. This dish involves cashews which make a healthy snack. It contains magnesium in it that strengthens our bones, reduces the risk of heart and migraine attacks and lowers the blood pressure. Thus not only adding taste but also nutrition to the confection.
So, here is your way to the nutritious and delicious Barfi:
Cashew nut powder
Dissolve sugar in three fourth cup of water and bring it to boil. Add saffron and cook till it forms a syrup of three thread consistency. Melt ghee and add to this syrup. Add cashew nut powder and mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool slightly. Knead it well and roll into half centimeter thick rectangle. Spread silver varq over it and cut into diamond shape of approximately one and half inch a side.
So, here is the dish to embellish my plate this Diwali with and yours???