The festival of Diwali originated in India but is celebrated today across the world.
Besides India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka it is also an official holiday in countries with a high percentage of Indian descendants (Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Fiji, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago for example).
The remarkable thing about Diwali is that is crosses borders but also religions. A Hindu celebration in the first place it has a spiritual significance for Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists alike.
It also marks the end of the harvest season (October or November) and the beginning of a new financial year for Indian businesses.
Diwali, or Deepavali, means ‘row of lights.’ All the legends associated with the festival describe the victory of good over evil and how light triumphed over darkness.
Diwali is the festival of light.
It is a very happy occasion.
People clean and decorate their homes, and there are displays of lights everywhere.
It is said that Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity roams the earth and blesses people with good fortune.
The commercial significance of the Diwali holidays is enormous.
It is a time to present gifts to family and friends. They might range from foods, made according to traditional Diwali recipes to cars, and anything in between.
Especially popular is jewelry and particularly gold.
In this sense, Diwali is very similar to the Christian Christmas time. It has the same commercial importance for retailers and a massive impact on the economy.
The 1-5 day holiday period is also a long-anticipated occasion for festive foods. There are specific dishes for each day of the festivities.
Diwali recipes are as diverse and varied as the regions, traditions and cultures they celebrated it.
The center of attention is sweets, also known as mithai. It could be a dessert, pieces of confectionary or a snack.
Friends and neighbors exchange small, beautifully decorated boxes of sweets as a sign of respect and appreciation.
There are countless Diwali recipes for treats and goodies often made days and weeks in advance.
The consumption of sweets might look excessive, but many of them are not around for the rest of the year.
Not all food is sweet, and there is a vast array of savory Diwali recipes according to traditions and local customs.
Many of the dishes are fried or deep-fried, and the burning of the oils for the frying is another symbol for the celebration of light.
Most Diwali recipes are vegetarian. To give them the festival treatment a lot of ghee (clarified butter) is used.
Saffron laced biryanis are another popular holiday food in certain areas.
For the festivities, they are cooked in big pans with only the best ingredients. In some places and traditions, the biryani might also contain chicken, lamb or goat.
For many, Diwali is not only the social but also the food highlight of the year.
The joyful and vibrant occasion is reflected in the rich and aromatic sweets, snacks and main dishes. Many delicacies are made especially for the festival and enjoyed with family and friends.