Mithai and desserts are the heart and soul of any Indian festival. Come Diwali and our household is buzzing with cries of ‘chalo mithai banaayen’! Besan laddoo, anarase and mohanthaal are three fixtures on the Diwali menu. Kaju katli is a personal favourite, but let us veer away from the ordinary and make Badam Katli or Blueberry Sandwich Katli.
Traditional sweets made with lots of fat and sugar are exciting to make at home especially if they are Diwali sweets. When you cook at home, these Diwali sweets are not only of better quality than the commercial ones but are more hygienic and better accepted by your friends and dear ones as your personal touch is there in every gift.
Prepare attractive gift boxes and fill them up with a variety of laddoos placed in colourful paper cupcake holders. You can make Choco Coconut Laddoos, Dry Fruit and Khajur Laddoos, Rawa Laddoo, Badami Besan ke Laddoo, and the good old Boondi Laddoo!
Gujiyas or karanjis can be made some two-three days before the festival. Keep them in airtight tins. As also mohan thaal and besan laddoos. Boondi laddoos should be made just a day early and consumed/distributed as fast as they can be. All khoya-based barfis should be refrigerated or consumed on priority. Those who wish can make jalebis and gulab jamuns at home, serve them hot.
There is a great influx of kaju katli based mithais. The base is excellent for shaping into miniature watermelons, custard apples, corn-on-the-cob, a kalash and what have you! These look very attractive.
Dry fruits will keep for quite some time tucked away in the corner of the fridge. In fact as the weather turns cooler, convert some pistas, almonds and cashewnuts into Dry Fruit Chikki. Savouries like namkeen shakkarpare, chakali, methi mathri, tikhi-sev, nankhatai, cholafalli and chiwda are other favourites that will be highly visible during this festive season.
So what is best for homemade Diwali sweets that can be boxed? Here is a plethora of sweets and you only have to choose what takes your fancy.
Diwali – illuminate your homes with love and lights
Deepavali or Diwali or the festival of lights is the brightest and most sought after of all Hindu festivals. It spreads over four days when it practically illuminates the entire country with scores of lights and fireworks. It spreads joy and sense of camaraderie that engulfs friends and foes alike with a lot of love and goodness.
Diwali is celebrated twenty days after Dassera, on amavasya (new moon), the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin. The festival corresponds with the English months of October/November.
The origin of Diwali
The origins of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. But one cannot ignore the various legends that suggest how this festival came to be celebrated.
According to one legend the festival is to celebrate the marriage of Goddess Laksmi to Lord Vishnu. However, in Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha, the God who symbolises auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes during Diwali. Jains believe that Lord Mahavira attained the eternal bliss or nirvana on Diwali day. Yet another legend has it that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile after defeating the demon-king Ravana who had kidnapped Sita. The people of Ayodhya illuminated the entire kingdom with diyas in joyous celebration of the return of their king.
Significance of lights and firecrackers
All the simple rituals of Diwali have a significance and a story to tell. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity. According to one belief, the sound of firecrackers makes the Gods in heaven aware of the joy of the people living on earth. The other reason has more scientific significance: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.
It’s time to give and forgive
Diwali is a time for everyone to forget and forgive the wrongs done to them by others. The air is filled with a sense of freedom, festivity and friendliness. Diwali brings about unity and instils charity in the hearts of people. Everyone buys new clothes for the family.
Everybody cleans their house and decorates it with bright oil lamps so that the entire house is well illuminated. Goddess Laxmi is then worshipped with reverence. Women of the household place their gold ornaments before the Goddess with prayers for prosperity through the coming year. The main entrance door of the houses is symbolically kept open so that when Goddess Laxmi does visit, she can come straight in. Shopkeepers and merchants worship their new account books for the ensuing year. In Gujarat this is called chopdipujan. A wide variety of sweets are distributed. In some communities there is a practice of exchanging thalis filled with sweets and savoury snacks with friends and neighbours.
Jubilant children and adults burst firecrackers alike. These days many sophisticated fireworks are available which light up the sky. Besides bursting firecrackers individually, community fireworks are also in vogue where the entire community gathers on a big open ground and some professionals do the fireworks display in a grand manner.
Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshipped in most Hindu homes on this day.
Diwali definitely lits up homes and hearts alike
It is not only a festival of lights that illuminates love in our hearts, it is also a festival that touches the roots of our souls with sweetness.