The most important and widely celebrated Hindu festival in India, Diwali follows the lunar calendar and usually takes place between mid- October and mid- November. The festival has many meanings throughout India’s regions. Most universally, it celebrates the triumph of good over evil as illustrated in the epic, the Ramayana, in which Lord Rama returns in triumph to his kingdom after rescuing his wife, Sita, from the clutches of the evil demon, Ravana. Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom and luck, is also widely worshipped at this time, as is Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In eastern India, the goddess Kali is honored during this festival.
Diwali is a multi-day celebration when Hindus visit the temple, entertain family and friends, give gifts and good wishes, buy new clothes and distribute alms to the needy. Special Diwali foods are prepared. There is a general feeling of joy and celebration in the air. Businesses close their books for the preceding year and give bonuses to employees. Hindu homes receive a thorough cleaning and general sprucing up. Garlands of flowers and mango leaves are hung above front doors and floors of entranceways are decorated with designs drawn in brightly colored powdered chalk.
Every evening, families set out multiple rows of little oil lamps both inside and outside their homes, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness. The sounds and sights of bursting firecrackers fill the air. Even non-Hindus join in the general celebration and all schools close for 1–2 weeks, making this a popular time for families to travel on vacation or to visit relatives in other parts of the country.
During this festive time in India, Mela Artisans wishes you a Happy Diwali and a healthy and prosperous year to come!
We hope you enjoy this popular Diwali drink prepared with almonds and milk.
- 1 cup almonds (badam)
- 6 cups milk
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ tsp saffron strands
- 2 cups hot water
Soak almonds in the hot water for about an hour. Drain, peel the skin off the almonds and blend into a fine paste using a little of the milk as necessary. Cook this paste for 5 to 10 minutes in a heated pan over low heat, stirring continuously. Add sugar and keep stirring till dissolved. Pour in the remaining milk, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool to desired temperature, garnish with strands of saffron and serve. Serves 6.