Diwali Food: Things to Eat During This Beautiful Festival

What is Diwali?

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is one of the most significant and widely celebrated festivals in India and among Indian communities around the world. It is a multi-day Hindu festival that typically takes place in October or November each year. The festival's duration and specific customs can vary depending on regional and cultural differences within India, but the core theme of Diwali remains the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.

Diwali Meaning in English?

The word "Diwali" is derived from the Sanskrit word "Deepavali," which means a row of lights. As such, the festival is often referred to as the "Festival of Lights." During Diwali, people light oil lamps or diyas, candles, and decorative lights to symbolize the victory of light over darkness and the dispelling of ignorance by knowledge.

How long does Diwali last?

Diwali is a multi-day festival, and its duration can vary depending on regional and cultural traditions within India. The main Diwali celebrations typically span five days, and they are as follows:

Day 1 - Dhanteras: This day marks the beginning of the Diwali celebrations. People clean their homes and buy new utensils, jewelry, or other items as it is considered auspicious to make new purchases on this day. It is also a time to worship Lord Dhanvantari, the god of Ayurveda, and seek blessings for good health.

Day 2 - Naraka Chaturdashi (Choti Diwali): This day is dedicated to the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. People take an oil bath and light small lamps to symbolize the triumph of good over evil.

Day 3 - Diwali: The main day of Diwali is the day when Lord Rama returns to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. People light lamps, burst fireworks, exchange gifts, and offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity. This is the day often associated with the grandest celebrations and decorations.

Day 4 - Govardhan Puja (Padwa): This day commemorates Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan Hill to protect the people from rain. It is also celebrated as the bond between husbands and wives in some regions.

Day 5 - Bhai Dooj: On this day, sisters perform aarti (ritual) for their brothers, and brothers give gifts to their sisters. It's a day to celebrate the special bond between siblings.

While these are the main five days of Diwali, the festival's specific customs and traditions can vary across different parts of India. Some regions may have additional days of celebration or unique rituals. Overall, Diwali is a time of joy, festivities, and togetherness, and it is celebrated with great enthusiasm and love by people of all ages.

What is Diwali food?

Diwali is a festival known for its delicious and festive food. Traditional Diwali dishes vary by region and community, but here are some common foods and sweets that are prepared and enjoyed during this festival:

Sweets (Mithai): Sweets are an integral part of Diwali celebrations. Various types of sweets are prepared, shared, and exchanged among family and friends. Some popular Diwali sweets include:

Ladoo: Round sweets made from ingredients like chickpea flour (besan), semolina (sooji), or gram flour (besan).

Barfi: Square or diamond-shaped sweets made from ingredients like condensed milk, nuts, and flavorings.

Jalebi: Deep-fried, coiled sweets soaked in sugar syrup, known for their bright orange color and unique shape.

Gulab Jamun: Deep-fried milk solids soaked in sugar syrup, usually shaped into round balls or oval shapes.

Rasgulla: Soft and spongy cheese balls soaked in sugar syrup.

Savory Snacks: In addition to sweets, savory snacks or "namkeen" are also popular during Diwali. Some common savory Diwali snacks include:

Murukku:  is a  crunchy, spiral-shaped snack made from rice flour and spices.

Chakli: A deep-fried spiral snack made from rice flour and lentils.

Mathri: Flaky and crispy deep-fried pastries made from refined flour (maida).

Namak Para: Crunchy, diamond-shaped snacks flavored with spices.

Sev: Thin and crispy noodles made from chickpea flour, often used to garnish various dishes.

Samosas: These are popular savory pastries filled with spiced potatoes and peas, often served with chutneys.

Vegetarian Curries: Many households prepare special vegetarian curries and dishes, which can include dishes like paneer tikka, aloo dum, or various vegetable curries.

Biryani and Pulao: Fragrant and flavorful rice dishes such as biryani and pulao may be prepared as a part of the festive meal.

Roti and Naan: Indian flatbreads, including roti and naan, are served with various curries and dishes.

Chutneys and Pickles: These condiments are often served to complement the flavors of the main dishes.

Fruit Chaat: A mixture of fresh fruits seasoned with spices and herbs, which provides a refreshing contrast to the sweet and savory dishes.

Thandai: A special drink made from milk, almonds, and various spices, often served as a festive beverage.

Fruit and Nut Trays: Diwali can also feature decorative trays of fresh fruits, nuts, and dried fruits, which are not only a healthy option but also add to the festive spirit.

The exact menu and choices of dishes can vary from one household to another, and it often depends on regional and cultural traditions. Diwali is a time for indulgence and sharing, so people typically prepare a variety of dishes and sweets to offer to guests and to exchange with friends and family.

What is Diwali for kids?

Diwali is a joyous and vibrant festival for children, filled with excitement and meaningful traditions. Here's what Diwali means for kids:

Lights and Decorations: Children love the aspect of lighting lamps and candles. They help their families decorate their homes with colorful rangoli patterns, fairy lights, and diyas (oil lamps). It's a time when streets and homes are illuminated with beautiful lights, which children find visually appealing.

Fireworks and Crackers: Diwali is often associated with fireworks and firecrackers. Children eagerly look forward to bursting fireworks and watching colorful displays in the night sky. It's a time of great excitement for them, and they enjoy the dazzling spectacle.

New Clothes and Gifts: Diwali is a time when parents often buy new clothes for their children. It's also a season of giving and receiving gifts, and kids eagerly anticipate what surprises they will get from family and friends.

Sweets and Treats: Diwali is a time when children get to indulge in a variety of delicious sweets and treats. They eagerly sample different types of mithai (sweets) and snacks, such as ladoos, jalebis, and more.

Family Time: Diwali is a time for family gatherings, and children get to spend quality time with their extended family members. They participate in rituals, prayers, and pujas, learning about their cultural and religious heritage.

Traditional Stories and Legends: Parents and grandparents often share the stories and legends associated with Diwali, such as the story of Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya or the tale of Lord Krishna and the demon Narakasura. These stories provide valuable life lessons and teach children about the triumph of good over evil.

Rangoli Art: Children often take an active role in creating rangoli patterns outside their homes. They get to showcase their creativity by making colorful and intricate designs on the ground using colored powders, flowers, and rice.

Community and Social Service: Diwali is also a time when children learn the value of giving back to the community. Some kids participate in charity events, distributing food or clothing to those in need, which is an essential aspect of the festival's spirit.

Dressing Up: Children enjoy dressing up in traditional attire, such as colorful outfits, jewelry, and other accessories. This adds to the festive spirit and makes them feel special.

Holiday Time: Diwali is a holiday, and children get a break from school and have time to relax, play, and celebrate with their friends and family.

Overall, Diwali is a time of celebration, joy, and togetherness for kids. It's a festival that provides them with a unique cultural and spiritual experience, as well as a sense of belonging to their heritage and community.

How do you explain Diwali to an American?

Explaining Diwali to someone unfamiliar with the festival, such as an American, can be done by highlighting its key aspects and cultural significance. Here's a simplified way to explain Diwali:

"Diwali, often referred to as the 'Festival of Lights,' is a major and joyous celebration in India and among Indian communities around the world. It's a time when people come together to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.

During Diwali, families and friends gather to decorate their homes with colorful lamps and candles. The lighting of these lamps represents the victory of knowledge over ignorance and the presence of positive forces in our lives.

People also exchange gifts, such as sweets and snacks, as a gesture of love and goodwill. Special sweets and treats are prepared for the occasion, and families spend time cooking and sharing delicious meals.

One of the highlights for many, especially children, is the fireworks. Fireworks light up the night sky in a dazzling display of colors, adding to the festive atmosphere. It's a bit like the Fourth of July celebrations in the United States but with a different cultural and religious significance.

Diwali also has religious aspects, as it has different meanings for Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs. For Hindus, it commemorates the return of Lord Rama after defeating the demon king Ravana, as told in the ancient epic, the Ramayana. It is also a time to worship the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

In essence, Diwali is a time for joy, togetherness, and unity, a time for families to come together, share delicious food, exchange gifts, and create beautiful memories. It's a celebration of the victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and light over darkness, and it's a wonderful cultural and spiritual experience."