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Celebrating the Festival of Triumph of Goodness

Celebrating the Festival of Triumph of Goodness
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diwalipicDIWALI is a bit of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July all rolled in one. This article gives you all the details you would like to read about….

If you rolled a bit of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July all into one, then catered the affair with mountains of sweets and savory snacks, you would have a taste of what it means to celebrate Diwali, India’s best-known festival. It is a day of Hindu solidarity, when all Hindus gather in love and trust. It is observed by lighting rows of oil lamps and exchanging greeting cards, clothing and other gifts. Family bonds are strengthened and forgiveness sought. For many, Diwali marks the beginning of the new year. Joyous festivities and parties abound. 

diwali1

What occurs on Diwali?

Diwali (or Deepavali, “row of lights”) is celebrated by Hindus worldwide to commemorate the triumph of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair. Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, from his 14-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon- king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas. The whole Diwali festivities are for 5 days.

Day 1 –The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year.

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Day – 2 – Chhoti Diwali – The second day of the festival, Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

Day – 3 – Badi Diwali – Amavasya, the third day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the Bali, and banished him to Patala.

diwali3Day – 4 – It is on the fourth day of Deepawali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that king Bali went to patala and took the reins of his new kingdom in there.

Day – 5 – The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.  

On main Diwali (Day 3) Oil-wick lamps are lit in every household, along with colorful strings of electric lights, causing the home, village and community to sparkle with dancing flames. The festival falls on the day before the new moon in the month of Ashwin (October/November). The Depawali or Diwali festival also marks the beginning of the new year according to the Hindu calendar, as the Ashwin month ends and the Kartik month begins on this day. Communities spare nothing in celebration. Lavish spreads of sweets and treats reflect unfettered partying. Families reach out to each other with gifts of sweets, dried fruit and crunchy, salty treats. Everyone wears colorful new clothing and many even new jewelry. Girls and women decorate their hands with henna designs.

Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.  

What does lamp-lighting signify?

diwali4Even today, the tradition projects the rich and glorious past of our country and teaches us to uphold the true values of life. In Hindu culture, light is a powerful metaphor for knowledge and consciousness. It is a reminder of the preciousness of education, self-inquiry and improvement, which bring harmony to the individual, the community and between communities. By honoring light, we affirm the fact that from knowing arises respect for and acceptance of others. Lighting lamps reminds Hindus to keep on the right path, to dispel darkness from their hearts and minds, and to embrace knowledge and goodness.

What legends are associated with Diwali?

In the sacred text Ramayana, Diwali marks the return of Rama to his kingdom after defeating Ravana, the demon king who ruled Sri Lanka and kidnapped Rama’s pious wife, Sita. It also celebrates Krishna’s victory over Narakasura, the demon of ignorance. Rama and Krishna are earthly incarnations, or avatars, of Vishnu. Goddess Laxmi plays a major role in this festival. This autumn festival is a five-days celebration, of which each one has its own significance.

diwali5Laxmi Puja – Deepavali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and is the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmi symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead. People renovate and decorate their houses and business places. In order to welcome Goddess Laxmi, the house is kept clean and rangoli is drawn at the doorstep. To indicate her long awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder (kumkum) all over the houses. Lamps are kept burning all through the nights. A pandit is consulted for the best time of puja. The general things needed for a diwali puja are silver and gold coins, suparis, uncooked Rice, paan leaves, kumkum for applying tilak, mithaai (Indian sweets), camphor, agarbattis (incense sticks), dry fruit (almonds, cashews), flower petals and Lakshmi-Ganesh icon.

The pooja ritual is performed in the evening when tiny diyas of clay are lit to drive away the shadows of evil spirits. Bhajans are sung in praise of the goddess and sweets are offered to her. Diwali puja consists of a combined pooja of five deities: Ganesha is worshipped at the beginning of every auspicious act as Vighnaharta; Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in her three forms Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth and money, Mahasaraswati, the goddess of knowledge and Mahakali. People also worship ‘Kuber’- the treasurer of the gods.

The Tradition of Rangoli

diwali6Rangoli is an Indian traditional or folk art, which is generally created on the floor on some festive occasions. The Indian scriptures and puranas (hindu mythological literature works) can be attributed for the emergence of this creative rangoli art. This ancient Indian art is believed to be originated from the Indian state Maharashtra, from where it get gradually dispersed in the rest of the country.

Rangoli is named differently in different Indian states like in South India it is called Kolam, Mandana in Rajasthan, Chowkpurna is the name of rangoli in Northern India, Alpana in Bengal, in Bihar it is called Aripana.

According to the earliest disquisition or treatise on Indian painting, named Chitra Lakshana, a king and his kingdom were extremely grieved on the death of the high priest’s son. Everybody along the king offered prayers to the creator of the universe, i.e, Lord Brahma for giving life to the boy. Brahmaji, being moved by the prayers of these people, came and asked the king to paint a likeness of the dead boy on the floor. He then put life into the portrait, thus relieved the entire kingdom from its sorrow and pain. This mythological tale is considered the scriptural evidence of the origin of this beautiful Hindu art, named Rangoli.

Rangoli as a Creative Expression: ‘Rangoli’ is a Sanskrit word, signifying a creative expression of art by means of colors. In ancient times, beautiful rangoli patterns and designs were made on the entrances of Indian homes for beautifying them and welcoming the guests. Besides a creative expression of art, they were also considered a symbol of good-luck. Ours is the culture of, “Athiti Devo Bhava”• means “Guest is God”.

diwali7The formation of an ideal rangoli art demands the attentive use of vibrant rangoli colors on a properly broomed and cleaned floor. However, rangolis are simple two-dimensional designs, but even the modern three dimensional art becomes graceless before them. Freehand use of vivid colored powders is made while making a rangoli. The most common way of making a rangoli is to pinch the thumb and the forefinger and let the color to freely run out from the gap.

Diwali Gift Tradition

diwali8Diwali festival, the most celebrated festival in India, is also associated as the largest gift giving and shopping festival in India. The tradition of exchanging gifts and shopping is very popular during Diwali. People go out of their way to splurge themselves and their loved ones as it is associated with prosperity. This tradition of shopping and exchanging gifts has been harnessed by marketers today. Most manufacturers and suppliers launch their products or announce attractive schemes to attract the people and people are willing to spend at the time of Diwali. Corporate India sees a boom time during diwali. There is a complete shopping and gifting spree at this time of the festival.

Significance Behind Exchanging Gifts on Diwali: The basic idea behind the tradition of exchanging Diwali Gifts is to accelerate the feeling of love, bonding, affection and appreciation. People convey their respect, good wishes, blessings, love and appreciation for their dear ones through gifts. Since Diwali is a religious festival, sending Diwali Gifts also symbolises one’s prayers to the almighty for the prosperity and well being of the recipient.

Early Tradition of Exchanging Diwali Gifts: Gifts are exchanged on diwali day and this is not a recent trend. From ancient times this has been followed. During early times, when Indian households solely depend on farming and cattle rearing for their livelihood, even then people used to give their farm produce on this day. Sweets and decorative were also produced at home and gifted. These gifts that time were not expensive but they were considered a token of love and good wishes.

Diwali Gifts Tradition in Present Times: Today the exchanging of gifts is not so simple. The Diwali Gifts exhanging tradition has grown to new heights in present times. It is considered socially mandatory to exchange Diwali Gifts will all near and dear ones, including friends, relatives, neighbours, colleagues and business associates. Great importance is given on the product in this materialistic age unlike ancient times when feelings behind gifts were far more important.

The Tradition of Fireworks

diwali9The use of crackers for Diwali celebrations did not stem from the roots of the festival. Previously, alternate forms of light were more popularly associated with the merriment. However, fireworks symbolize festivity and the custom has now taken hold. As Diwali is celebrated on the new-moon (Amavasya) night, lights and fireworks have a significant role to play in this festival. This is why, when we heard the name Diwali, the first impression that flashes through our minds is of multicolored and impressive fireworks, sprinkling various sorts of bright colored lights in the night sky. Although the tradition of fireworks on Diwali is not very old, still they have succeeded in becoming such a vital part of this festival that we can’t even imagine a wonderful Diwali without them. However, there are some environmental issues associated with the use of firecrackers or fireworks on the Diwali festival, still there will be no exaggeration in saying that fireworks are an inherent part of Diwali celebrations.

Diwali Recipes

Indian Carrot Halwa

diwali10Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 60-80 minutes
Serves: 6-8
Equipment: A small wok or round-bottomed pan, a ladle
and a serving dish.
Ingredients
4 cups/1 kg grated carrots, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups milk, 1
ladlesghee, a few cashews and raisins, 2 cardamom pods

Method

1. Wash, peel and grate the carrots.
2. Fry the cashews, raisins and cardamom in ghee and set aside.
3. Heat a ladle of ghee in the pan. Add the grated carrots and saute.
4. Add enough milk to soak the carrots and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until
carrots are soft. Keep adding milk, a ladle at a time, and cook until the milk thickens,
then stir in the sugar.
5. Cook over low heat until everything blends together into a firm mass that separates
from the sides of the pan.
6. Garnish with the fried cashews, cardamom and raisins. Top with a little ghee and
pistachio slivers for extra flavor.

Malpua

Idiwali11ngredients:
1/2 kg maida.
750 gm sugar.
1/2 ltr.milk.
1 cup grated coconut
6 bananas.
25gm dry fruits.
5-6 ilaichi.

1 ltr. Refined oil.

Process
1 Boil the milk and stir it till it becomes thick. Then cool it.
2 In the milk add maida, sugar, dryfruits , coconut and ilaichi powder .Stir it till it
becomes a paste.
3 Make banana paste and add it into the maida paste.
4 Hot oil in a pan. Make round shaped balls of the paste.
5 F ry these till they turn red.

Idiwali12ngredients:
1 1/4 cup Gram Glour
1 1/4 cup Maida
250 gms Ghee
2 1/2 cups Sugar
1 1/2 cup Water
2 tbsp Milk
1/2 tsp Cardamom seeds crushed coarsely
4″ squares cut from a thin polythene sheet

Preparation: 
1. Sift both flours together. 
2. Heat ghee in a heavy saucepan. Add flour mixture and roast on low till light golden.
Keep aside to cool a little, stirring occasionally.
3. Prepare syrup simultaneously. Make syrup out of sugar, water and milk. Bring syrup
to 2 1/2 thread consistency. 
4. Pour at once into the flour mixture. Beat well with a large fork till the mixture forms
threadlike flakes. 
5. Pour onto a greased surface or thali and roll to 1″ thickness lightly. Sprinkle the
elaichi and gently press down with palm.
6. Cool, cut into 1″ squares, wrap individually into square pieces of thin plastic sheet.
Store in an airtight container.

Gujia

Idiwali13ngredients : 
Flour 250 grams
Khoya 500 grams 
Raisins a few 
Almonds 100 grams (finely chopped) 
Cooking oil 3 tablespoon 
Water 100 ml 
Sugar 250 grams

Preparation : 
Mix the oil and flour properly to form a binding
consistency of breadcrumbs. Add some water
and knead lightly the entire mixture. Make it soft dough and set it aside with a damp
cloth covering it. Fry the khoya in cooking oil till it becomes light brown and then mix
the sugar in it properly. Add the almonds and raisins, and fry for a few more minutes.
Remove from fire and let it cool. Make small thick chapattis out of that kneaded dough.
Fill half of the chapatti with the khoya mixture and, rolling it, seal the sides of the
chapatti keeping the khoya inside it. Make the sealing look decorated by giving a look of
hemming. Deep-fry these gujias until it becomes light golden brown, keeping the flame
at low. Take out the gujias on a newspaper and let the oil get soaked. Serve hot or store
it in an airtight container for using it on that special day.

Murukku

diwali14Murukku is one of the popular South Indian
snack. Here is a simple method to make
crispy murukkus. There are different kinds
of murukku. This one is rice murukku.
Enjoy this with a cup of tea or coffee , great
evening snack.  

Ingredients:
Rice flour – 2 cups
Pottu Kadalai / Fried gram dal – 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds- 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tbsp
Melted Butter  – 1 tbsp or vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida a pinch
Red Chilly flakes – 1 tsp 
or Chilly powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt

Method
1. Smoothly powder the fried gram dal.
2. In a mixing bowl mix all the ingredients together by adding enough water. (not so
loose ,the dough should be little thick to get perfect crispy murukkus)
3. Stuff the dough in the murukku press and press it into spirals on a paper towel or on a
plastic  sheet.
4. Heat enough oil to deep fry, once it is hot carefully drop the murukku into the oil and
deep fry both sides until crisp. Drain on a paper towel , cool and store in a air tight
container. You can keep this for weeks.

Thattai

Thattai is a popular snack in tamilnadu. I don’t know about other states. Crispy thattai’s
are great snack with a cup of tea. Try it you
gonna love it.

Idiwali15ngredients 
Rice flour 2 cups
Channa dal (Kadalai paruppu) – 1/2 cup
Gram flour (Kadalai mavu) -1/2 cup
Chick peas flour/ Pottu kadalai mavu – 1/2
cup
Red chilly powder – 1/2 tsp or red chilly – 4
(if using red chilly grind it )
Cumin seeds- 2 tsps
Black sesame seeds – 1 tsp
Curry Leaves- few (Crushed)
Melted butter or vegetable oil – 2 tsps
Salt – As per taste

Method
1. Soak the channa dal (Kadalai paruppu) in water for 30minutes. Drain the water and
keep aside.
2. Mix rice flour, gram flour, chick peas flour, chilly powder, cumin seeds, sesame seeds,
curry leaves and salt. Add the soaked channa dal to the mixture .
3. Add water little by little and make the dough as murukku dough. Make small lime size
balls and flatten each balls as thin as possible.
4. Deep fry until it is brown and crispy. Store it in a airtight container and enjoy with
tea. 
(I added little orange food color, but that is optional)
Note: (to flatten the balls, if you can able do it with your hands, else use a ziplog bag.
Cut two opposite closed edges . Place the dough on one side and cover it with other
side and roll it into a thin layer. Apply little oil so that it won’t stick.)

Celebrating the Festival of Triumph of Goodness
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