Three days to go and it will be Diwali. Diwali always evokes beautiful and cherished memories of childhood and home (especially now that we are far away from both home and loved ones).
Clay Diyas, mithais, strings of marigolds and mango leaves, rangolis, torans and more. Walking down the memory lane this Diwali (If you’ve grown up in India some of these will definitely take you back to your childhood).
- Helping dad fix the electric “ladis” (fairy lights) a day before “Dhanteras”.
- Going out with mum and dad to get a silver coin on the day of Dhanteras.
- Polishing the brass lamps and candle stands with “Brasso” till they begin to shine like gold.
- Buying new traditional clothes way in advance for the big day. Silk saree for mum, a kurta for dad and lehengas or churidar kurtis for us. Matching bangles too.
- Going to the local potters to buy clay diyas (smaller ones for the whole house and one large one that mum would fill up with ghee to last the whole night long).
- While at the potter picking up a clay urli to float flowers and a few terracotta lanterns too.
- Debating on which Ganesh-Lakshmi clay idol was the prettiest and choosing that with mum and dad.
- Picking up mithai dabbas for all the loved ones and wrapping them up in shimmery silver and gold gift wraps those that flew and were so difficult to handle if the fan was on. Switch off the fan someone would say and that helped.
- Gifts too. Thoughtful ones. Ones that our parents knew would make our loved ones happy. Sarees and shirts for the help at home.
- Spending hours making detailed grocery lists with mum for all the mithai to be made; laddoos, barfis, namak pare and more. She made the list and we just hung around dreaming about the mithai.
- Waking up on Diwali morning and jumping out of bed to make a rangoli. Sometimes floral, sometimes geometric.
- Making tiny feet (“S” with five tiny dots for toes) at the entrance of the house and all the way inside (representing Goddess Lakshmi’s feet) just in case the Goddess lost her way.
- Visiting the phoolwali mandi to buy ladis of gendas and aam patte by the kilos. Some loose flowers and two garlands for the pooja too, mum would always say.
- Filling up all the vases and nooks and corners with flowers of all sorts and getting that sense of pride looking at how festive and gorgeous “our” home looked and felt.
- Filling up the plates with mithai and bowls with almonds, cashews, raisins and pistachios in anticipation of all the guests and relatives who would visit us during the day and in the evening.
- Setting up the pooja place. Cleaning that white marble slab in our living room till it began to gleam. Placing the Idols (but wash your hands first, we would be gently reminded). Thali full of diyas , kacha doodh in a silver katori, tikka with grains of rice and a few drops of water, sandalwood agarbattis in the silver agarbatti stand, dhoop shaped into a cone, khulle phool, mala and the prasad.
- Carefully filling up all the clay diyas with ghee and oil and putting in cotton wicks way before the pooja.
- Singing the aarti together while waiting eagerly for the pooja to get over so that we could run out and light diyas and burn fire crackers.
- Making sure each and every corner of the house, balcony, verandah, even the window sills were lined up with the diyas.
- Dad bending down with us to light them all after the pooja with candles that were lit from the bada diya in the pooja thali.
- Melting the rear end of the candle with a lighted one and then sticking it on the window sills.
- Getting disappointed and frustrated when the lit candle would die because of the strong breeze.
- Writing my name in the air with the phooljhadis.
- Jumping over the chakris.
- Feeling mesmerized by the gorgeous streaks of fireworks from the anars.
- Cautiously bending over to light a bomb and running away from it at the first sight of spark.
- Covering my ears with my hands as someone lighted up the red ladi of bijli bombs.
- Filling up those obnoxious toy guns with dot bombs and irritating the hell out of my parents with its high pitched sound.
- Lighting up those “saanp” tablets and strategizing on how to throw them in one over the other to make the longest snake. Oh it was so gross but we seemed to enjoy it back then.
- Awestruck at the sight in the sky. Glimmer, glitter, sparkle everywhere.
- Walking down the road with mum and dad and looking at all the houses sparkling due to the brightness lent by string lights and the gentle flicker of the diyas.
- Wishing it could look this festive all year round.
- Coming back home to mum’s scrumptious and traditional dinner of kali daal, allu gobhi, shahi paneer, lauki ke kofte, dahi bhalle and more.
- Eating countless mithais till our tummies began to hurt. Then popping in one more for it was Diwali after all.
- Tired. Happy. Content. Finally getting into our beds with a prayer on our lips asking for blessings and thanking someone up there for illuminating our lives with love and togetherness.
Did these take you back to your childhood and your home? What are some of your much loved Diwali memories?
As we grew up we became aware how children our age and younger were being forced to make fire crackers since demand for fire crackers swelled during Diwali and ofcourse the pollution it caused and slowly fire crackers went away from our lives. Strangely we didn't miss them. For Diwali was always much more than burning a cracker.
One sparkler for “shagun” remained.
From observing my parents, celebrating in the house that I grew up in, learning traditions that my parents passed on I started making traditions of my own with my partner. Sara joined us a couple of years later. Now I make mithais and plan our dinner, he fixes the lights and she makes the rangolis and the cards. Just like that the roles have changed.
This Diwali my little girl will wear her pretty lehenga with a tikka on her head. Sparkly bangles are a must she says. We will get that one sparkler for shagun and watch her write “Sara” with it and celebrate this festival of lights.
Wishing you all a very happy Diwali. Sparkle. Glitter. Shine.
Oh and just because we are saying no to firecrackers doesn't mean we won’t be having any. We just ate some “Firecrackers” and they were delicious and made my little chefling squeal with delight.
For the fire crackers:
- Cinnamon sticks
- Star anise
- Vanilla extract
- A squeeze of lemon
- One peach, peeled but stem intact
- One plum
- One apple
- One clove
- Squeeze of a lemon or any juice
- Chocolate ganache to dip (I make mine with 70% dark chocolate, cream and vanilla extract)
- Golden star sprinkles (or any other glittery ones if you have on hand)
- Piping bag
For the matchbox:
- Pretzel sticks
- Chocolate ganache to dip
- An old and clean matchbox
- For the anar (flower pot sparkler): Peel the pear and poach it with some sugar, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, vanilla and a squeeze of lemon. Remember it to turn it around midways. Allow it to cool and dip it in chocolate sauce and sprinkle gold stars.
- For the gola bomb(Round bomb): Poach the plum with some sugar, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, vanilla and a squeeze of lemon. Remember it to turn it around midways. Allow it to cool and dip it in chocolate sauce and sprinkle gold stars. Add the clove on top for the wick.
- For the chakri (spiral sparkler): Cut round slices of apple and coat it with any juice you have on hand. This will prevent discolouration. Fill the piping bag with the chocolate sauce and make spirals on it.
- For the matchbox: Dip several small pretzel sticks chocolate sauce and let the chocolate set. Line the inside of the matchbox with foil or butterpaper and transfer the “matchsticks” to the matchbox.
Boom.Boom .Boom. Enjoy your firecrackers. I can assure you these will light up any little girl/boy’s Diwali day.
p.s. If you’d like to make an edible gift with your little one then you might enjoy this post, here.
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