Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is a joyous and festive occasion for all Indians. The family gathers, friends mingle and everyone celebrates as a timeless tradition chugs along and ushers in yet another new year. Diwali is characterised by festive pomp and grandeur, bright shining lights, exchange of gifts with loved ones, card parties that extend into the early hours of dawn and of course consumption of copious quantities and varieties of food.
Despite being a country of 1.25 billion people of diverse ethnicities, religions and languages, India is united by a universal and sheer unending love for food. As my grandmother often remarked on my visits to India in between my University breaks, “if you go back to college without putting on a few kilos, I would be rather disappointed in my ability as your grandmother.”
The Indian matriarch, the quintessential “lady of the house”, ensures that every guest who comes over is fed endlessly. Diwali is as much a celebration of gastronomy as it is of the victory of good over evil. Snacks such as chakli, chivda, shankarpali, sev, mathri, gujiya are commonly served in most households across the country. Further, sweets take centre stage during any Diwali celebration. Whether it is the wide range of ladoos from besan laddu to rava laddu to kaju laddu to the more traditional gulab jamoon and kaju katli to the regional delicacies such as aamba barfi in Maharashtra to rosgolla and sandesh in Bengal to the omnipresent jalebi, Diwali well and truly lights up the palette of anyone endowed with a sweet tooth.
The food journey across India exposes us to varied cuisines, recipes, ingredients and condiments. However one thing that reigns supreme is the warmth and hospitality with which any family, irrespective of social or cultural background, welcomes a guest into their home. The concept of “athithi devo bhava” or “a guest is the equivalent of god” is ingrained into the social fabric of this vast and diverse country and guests are indeed welcomed and treated with utmost respect and love. Of course, that “respect and love” is often misconstrued by the “lady of the house” as stuffing every guest with food till they are filled up to the brim and multiple cranes are required to move the guests back to their respective homes. Even excusing for the hyperbole, the misplaced love of the Indian matriarch ensures that all the divine guests end up with expanding midriffs as the Diwali season comes to a close and I for certain am in need of an urgent detox and extended sessions in the gym.
Hence as yet another Diwali season ends, The Foodie Diaries would like to wish all readers a very happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year ahead and to thank you for your continued support on our culinary journey through life.
From the asadors of the Gaucho to the tapas bars of Bilbao,
The Foodie Diaries to gastronomy does bow,
And whether you celebrated with haute cuisine in Paris or lawar in Bali,
We wish you all a very Happy Diwali!
The post was written on behalf of The Foodie Diaries by Ameya Prabhu, a private equity entrepreneur and a writer based in Mumbai with varied interests in history, world politics, music and cricket