Oh boy, if I could get a silver coin every time I was asked “What’s Diwali anyway?” I would have a lot of silver coins by now, which would have been convenient since my current amount of silver coins at the moment is zero.
Diwali or Deepavali fell on the 11th of November this year. The reason I say “this year” is because it doesn’t always fall on the same day. Diwali usually falls between mid October and mid November. It depends on the new moon on the Hindu calendar.
Simply put, Diwali is the Hindu new year. It’s the easiest way to explain the festival. It’s also called the festival of lights. We light candles and fireworks. Everything is brightly decorated and it’s the festival of lots and lots of sweets (mithai):
And my personal favourite, gulab jamun (extremely sweet yummy soft warm almond-garnished mithai):
and kaju katli! (its main ingredient cashews, hence “kaju” which is hindi for cashew):
Diwali actually extends for 5 days. Two days before Diwali and two days after. We light candles in every corner of the house and in every room for those 5 days. On the third day, commonly called Diwali, is the day in which we welcome the Goddess Laxmi and pray to her to bring wealth and health into our house.
Furthermore, Diwali is a festival to invite hope for a brighter, healthier, and wealthier new year. We celebrate with family, friends, and good food. Since I live on my own and my parents are halfway across the planet, there isn’t all that much I can do on Diwali. Regarding the prayer and ritual, I don’t have the means or enough knowledge to do everything right (including having silver coins for the ritual). I do, however, try my best and make the most of it. Having class until 18:30 doesn’t exactly help but my inner hindu decided do something anyway. I have adorned my little temple, prayed, and made the best paneer I could have ever made! It has taken me quite a while to get it right and I finally have! (It doesn’t mush and crush when I cook it anymore!)
The official term for paneer is cottage cheese and it looks a little like this:
It’s similar to tofu but with a completely different texture. It can be used to replace meat, which is absolutely lovely. And also so easy to make it’s not even funny!
I decided to make Paneer Makhanwala tonight, however, I deviated from the original recipe and added a heap load of vegetables to it making it “Paneer + everything else Makhanwala”. Makhanwala basically means buttery. So that would mean I made Butter Paneer (similar to Butter Chicken).
On the last official day of Diwali (which is two days from now) I will, as I’ve done for the past 3 years, invite just a few of my friends and go all out and make a wonderful Indian meal. I’ve already come up with the menu, now hoping it will all go as planned. So, you can count on an Indian 3-course meal post very soon!
And also guys, Happy New Year isn’t the same as Happy Diwali. Since the closest comparison to Diwali is the New Year, I understand that people would wish me with “Happy New Year!”. As sweet as that is, it’s actually not the same.. So, next time it’s Diwali, wish your Hindu friends a Happy Diwali! or a Shubh Diwali as it’s said in Hindi!
Until next time, folks!
Smile because it’s Diwali!