The wheel of time has turned again and Diwali the festival of light is back. For any food lover, Diwali is the perfect time to be in India. Any festival in India is incomplete without food. Whenever we talk of festivals we think of the special dishes prepared for the occasion since festival cooking is a part of all celebration, but Diwali is when everything becomes larger than life.
Diwali (also known as Divali or Deepavali) is the Indian festival of lights, which to Hindus plays a role similar to Christmas and New Year in Christian society. Diwali, celebrates rebirth and happiness, honors the goddesses Lakshmi and Parvati and Lord Rama and is the beginning of the accounting years for the trading communities. Traditionally welcomed with firecrackers and a flurry of sweet sticky treats, this is a joyous time in India. All over the country Indian sweet makers, or halwais, have been busy gearing up for their peak season.
"Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye" very tidily sums up the attitude of Indians to sweets or Mithai. Literal translation would result in a grammatically incorrect sentence, but this often used phrase means that "the occasion calls for sweets"."Mithai" means something sweet, a sweetmeat or sweetie and derives from the word Meetha. The occasion being celebrated could be anything, from the most auspicious, such as festivals, the birth of a child, or marriage to the smaller milestones of life, like success in examinations, purchase of a new home or car, or even guests for dinner!
In a culture where sharing is tradition Mithai become a vehicle of sharing ones joy that overcomes all barriers of caste, creed or religion and Mithai is distributed whenever an occasion to celebrate presents itself. In India one does not need to know someone to share in their good fortune, you could be passing a shop that has opened the same day and the owners will come running out to offer you a sweet something, or, you could be at an official meeting and find someone is distributing sweets because his son passed his exams!
The word Meetha is also commonly used to classify Indian Sweets and puddings, the spectrum of which encompasses a wide variety of Sweet offerings, from fresh Homemade Halwas and Kheers to drier, more easily handled Mithais sourced from the local shops. The brilliance of Indian Mithai is that a vast range of offerings actually revolves around a surprisingly small handful of core ingredients usually found in most Indian homes: sugar, clarified butter (ghee), milk and flour from cereals or pulses, seasonal vegetables and fruit, rice or wheat, spices for flavoring and Dry fruit to enrich. Only the best ingredients go into Mithai, as it is the belief that a generous use of the best ingredients will result in superlative offering.
For me personally it has been a year of many changes. It's been a year of ups and downs, two new additions to the family, beautiful babies that make you rejoice in new relationships, getting over losing loved ones, finding new friends, love, laughter, tears, personal and professional triumphs, sorrow and exhilaration, LIFE has carried me along in its most unique, oh so characteristic way. Today, surrounded by celebrations light, love, luck, good food, friends and family I am thankful for everything I have. As we celebrate Diwali in India on October 28th, my family and I wish for you all the love, luck, good fortune and happiness in the world.