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The festival of lights – Diwali – has manifold significance in Indian mythology. It is the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. It is the beginning of new year. It is the apex of Hindu celebrations!

But for me, Diwali is simply the festival of my childhood. Since I do not come from a religious family, I remember celebrating Diwali in a little different way while growing up (basically everything but the puja!).

We lit up the traditional diyas and/or candles, wore new clothes, made mithais (sweets) at home, bought more mithais from the market (and a number of other snacks too — various “namkeens”, “cheeni ke khilone” and “maroonde” to name a few!). We had guests over, exchanged even more mithais (:P) and we were guests to many of our neighbors as well. It was festivities – times a million – all around!

[I even remember making “gharondas” (little clay houses) for the pretty idols (of Ganesha-Lakshmi, of regular folks like farmers & village-women, and  even of ‘sacred’ animals). Ah! what fun it was! And, ofcourse, the fire-crackers and, my favorite, sparklers (phul-jhadi!! Saying it in Hindi gives it more depth :P].

It’s been a long time since I have celebrated Diwali — not been back home during Diwali in forever, and also not attended any ‘Diwali gatherings’ at temples here in the US. But, whenever it is Diwali time, those aromas and smells – of the buzzing local markets back home – come fluttering back to my mind. I can literally taste those kaju-burfis! YUM!

So, this year, I will change that. Though I can’t be back home with my parents, sister and brother, I’ll carry my home in my heart and celebrate the spirit of Diwali. I know, I won’t be able to light as many traditional diyas as I would like, I won’t have mom-made mithais or food and I won’t have the hustle-bustle of the packed markets. But why focus on what I won’t have? That’s the spirit of Diwali afterall, isn’t it? So, this year, I’m hosting a potluck Diwali dinner! I’m so excited to celebrate with all my frie…errrrr…extended family! (More than that, looking forward to the various cuisines that the families are bringing :P).

Happy Diwali to you all! May this Diwali bring you all immense happiness, peace and prosperity!

photo

An organic grain-rangoli that I made last year (kidney beans, green moong daal, yellow moong daal, and cherios!!)

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