Diwali is a time for celebrating and spending time with your loved ones. This Diwali, gift your loved ones something you’ve cooked with love especially for them. Here are some wonderful recipes for sweets to share this festive season.
October-November is the festival season in India and you can feel the excitement in the air.
Just as the cold weather sets in, the preparations for the grand festival season start. The markets are laden with goods, the houses are given a fresh coat of paint, and street-side stalls appear overnight selling goods from rangoli powders to crackers.
Growing up, we would know that Diwali was around the corner when the aroma of the special Diwali sweets and treats started wafting out of the kitchens in the neighborhood.
Sweets are a major part of Diwali celebrations and some sweets are cooked only for this festival. But before we get into that, let us find out a bit more about Diwali.
What is Diwali?
Diwali derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Deepavali’ means rows of lighted lamps.
The festival is observed to mark the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and also for health and prosperity throughout the year.
There are hundreds of festivals that are celebrated in India but Diwali is always special. Because Diwali is celebrated not just by Hindus but by a multitude of religions; Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists also celebrate it with equal fervor.
Traditionally, this is the day when Indian merchants closed the previous year’s books and opened a new one. So, it is also considered the traditional financial new year. Now, of course, this is purely a symbolic gesture.
Some may categorize it as a harvest festival and they will not be wrong, as it is held after the harvesting of the summer crops.
Diwali is a celebration of new beginnings. Spiritually speaking, it is the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, with the light being the symbol for knowledge and consciousness.
Why is Diwali Celebrated?
The reasons for the celebration differ according to religion and region, but the most common story behind the celebration is that of Lord Rama.
It is believed that after killing Ravana and rescuing his wife Sita, this was the day that Rama returned back to his kingdom of Ayodhya. The citizens of the kingdom welcomed the revered couple by lighting oil lamps.
When is it celebrated?
Diwali is a five-day celebration that is held in the Hindu lunar month of Kartik. It starts from the 13th day of the dark half of the month and ends on the 2nd day of the light half.
Note: Dark half starts from a full moon day and ends on a new moon day and light half starts from a new moon day and ends on a full moon day.
The main day of Diwali which falls on the 3rd day is celebrated on the no moon night or Amavasya of the month of Kartik.
According to the Gregorian calendar, Diwali is generally celebrated anywhere from the middle of October to the middle of November. This year it falls on the 14th of November.
How is it celebrated?
Growing up in India, I remember Diwali was a time when people would vigorously scrub their homes clean, decorate it, make lots of sweets, have feasts, and then celebrate with family and friends by lighting diyas and bursting crackers.
The celebrations are spread over five days. Each day has its own significance.
Day 1 – 13th day of Kartik.
The festival commences with Dhanteras. It is believed that on this day Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, emerged from the churning of the ocean of milk.
This day is also celebrated to honor Dhanvantari, who brought Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system, to mankind. People purchase metal, especially gold and silver, and buy new things for the household and family.
Day 2 – 14th day of Kartik.
This day is celebrated as Narak Chaturdasi/Kali Chaudas or Chhoti Diwali.
It is believed that Narakasura, a demon who had terrorized mankind was killed on this day. Some believe it was Krishna who killed Narakasura, while others believe it was Goddess Kali.
This day is celebrated by cleaning the house and getting rid of junk, then decorating the house with flowers, drawings, and patterns made from colored powders called Rangoli.
Day 3 – 15th day of Kartik.
This is the day that Diwali is celebrated. It is on Amavasya or no moon day that Laxmi the goddess of wealth is worshipped.
People offer prayers to the Goddess and then illuminate their homes with lights. Now, electric lights are used, but traditionally earthen oil lamps were lighted.
This is the day when traditional dishes are prepared and friends and families get together to feast. Fireworks are a big part of this celebration.
Day 4 – 16th Day of Kartik (1st day of the light half of the month)
The fourth day is celebrated as padeeva or annakoot. According to some communities, this day is dedicated to the spouses.
Traditionally, it is a day of rest when Khichadi, a simple dish of rice and lentils is cooked and shared with the less fortunate. In some parts of the country, this is the day for kite flying.
Those who follow the Vaishnav traditions, celebrate it as the day Krishna picked up the mountain Govardhan to save the citizens of Mathura from Indra, the God of Thunder and Rain.
They celebrate this day by preparing fifty-six different dishes and offering it to Krishna as thanks for saving mankind.
Day 5 – 17th Day of Kartik (2nd day of the light half of the month)
The festival culminates with a poignant celebration of sibling love. It is called Bhai Duj, Yama Dwitiya or Bhai tika in various parts of the country.
It is believed that on this day Lord of death, Yama visited his sister Yamuna and gave her a boon.
To commemorate that boon, brothers visit their married sister’s house bearing gifts of sweets and other traditional dishes. Sisters pray for the health and longevity of their brothers.
Hope you enjoyed learning more about Diwali and it is time to get to the recipes.
Our go-to Diwali recipes
This is the order I follow when I prepare the recipes – I start with the savory ones, followed by laddoos and in the end, I make milk-based sweets (since they don’t have a long shelf-life).
Planning to throw a party for Diwali? Get recipes, sample menus, ideas for potluck, and loads of tips/tricks to make your next party a huge success! Check out this Indian dinner party planning post.