When Diwali is around, there is festivity in the air and howsoever difficult may be the circumstances around one ( pollution, heat in Mumbai and untimely fog and snow in Delhi and Srinagar respectively, Ram Mandir, Sabarimala, RBI – Govt strife, China-Pakistan bonhomie, Trump’s tantrums, election bickering, Me Too and the list is endless), the spirit of Diwali overwhelms everyone making him or her forget everything else at least momentarily.
In our childhood, the festivities used to begin much ahead of Diwali. The preparations for Diwali actually used to begin from Dussehra onwards and the shops used to stock crackers generously patronised by children. Of course, Dhanteras was for all shopping and Chhoti Diwali, a day prior to the main day, was celebrated with the same zeal as the main festival. The fun would continue right till Bhai Duj.
I am inspired to write this blog by an article in newspaper yesterday on the tradition of home made sweets (faral in Maharashtra). The article lamented the fact that traditional sweets made of stuff like Atta, jaggery, sugar, maida, dry fruits etc, were no longer in vogue and that these have been substituted by ready made stuff like kaju katli and Sohan papri! The article further states that this homemade stuff would not perish for months and children joining their parents for Diwali vacations would take tin loads of these goodies back to their hostels to be savoured by them with their friends over next several days! I distinctly remember that one of the highlights of Diwali used to be homemade preparations by my grandmother. She would make excellent besan ki barfi (made of gram flour and sugar), guney (atta and jaggery) and delicious namkeen seviyan (crisply fried salty preparation made of gram flour). But the most sought after item was Chinjan da vada (fried vadas made out of maida dough dipped in sugar syrup). My mother tried this on couple of occasions at my request but the ones made by me grandma on Diwali were special and would remain so forever!
No one cared for fat or sugar and obesity or diabetes was unheard of. Diwali was for pure indulgence and nothing else mattered. For once, I exhort all my readers to try and keep the tradition alive by preparing at least one delicacy at home this Diwali. Even if the same is not possible, let’s light up our homes and indulge whole hog this Diwali without caring for Diabetes, weight gain, cholesterol or BP. Crackers, in any case, we have all agreed not to burn to make Diwali a clean and pollution free Diwali.