Of Diwali Traditions Old and New

Of Diwali Traditions Old and New

Traditionally Diwali has always spelt A.C.T.I.V.I.T.Y since I was a child. We would get swept along on this tidal wave as the adults sat around budgeting, making lists, shopping for clothes and estimating the number of visitors.

Most of all I remember the food

My grandmas and my mother would get together along with the house help and cook up a storm in the kitchen. By the time Diwali came around, we’d have huge boxes full of all kinds of sweets and savouries that would last through the month.

We’d hang around the kitchen…

..pestering them for ‘something to do’, beyond the picking and carrying and fetching. Most often we were handed over forks or knives and we would sit happily pricking the mathris readying them for frying. Or we’d get to work on the gujhiyas cutting them with the help of moulds, getting out perfectly formed semi circles. The adults worked far more deftly without the moulds.

My favourite memory…

is that of my grandmother sitting out in the courtyard frying gujhiyas in a large kadhai (a wok) on a coal fire. My sister and I would hang out of the huge windows of our room that opened out into the courtyard. It was me more than my sister. Food never was quite her thing like it was mine. My grandmom would hand over one to me, its delicately flavoured khoa hot and runny. And I would happily risk burning my tongue as I’d bite into it. Nothing ever tasted quite as good.

After I got married..

..I tried my hand at making gujhiyas and it turned out an epic fail. Each one of them burst out into the oil spilling all their contents and effectively putting me off festive cooking. I didn’t much mind. All I did was go looking for the shop that sold the best ones (by that I meant the ones closest to the kind my mom made). And that was how it was for many years.

However now, as the children are growing up, I am beginning to feel sorry for that lost tradition, among many others. I’m sorry they will never experience the bustle of a busy kitchen fragrant with festive smells, that they will never get to sample a hot gujhiya straight out of the kadhai. And I wonder if, in an attempt at simplifying the festival, I have taken away the essence of it.

In an attempt at simplifying Diwali have we taken away the essence of it? Click To Tweet

Perhaps I have. Could I have done it any other way? I’m not sure. Not as far as the cooking goes that’s certain, that really isn’t my forte.

We have however, set up our own traditions – clearing our cupboards, redoing the house, painting diyas, making rangolis, having our own small puja followed by visiting friends and neighbours. That’s not too bad I assume. The children, of course, have no idea what they’re missing, as for me, I still miss the ma ke haath ki gujhiyas.

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

34 Replies to “Of Diwali Traditions Old and New”

  1. I feel its this thing about festivals. They are meant to bring us all together, create fond memories and fill hearts with happiness. it brings in so much positivity. A very similar situation, I distinctly remember my mom and grandmom, cooking for Diwali and going about the traditions. I hardly do as much as what they used to. But still try my level best.

  2. Gujhiyas in my home used to be a Holi delicacy. And that is also only one thing I make every year for Holi. Surprisingly, I don’t use molds unlike Mum and cut them with my hands like Nani and Dadi. Traditions related to food are my favorite too. I think I have also lost them with times and age but I love that I have memories of those days. Of popping khoa into my mouth while filling and getting chided by dadi 🙂
    Lovely post! Happy Diwali, Tulika. Hugs.

    1. OMG Parul gujhiyas are a Holi thing for us too. My sister and mom gave me plenty of grief on this post because I mixed up the two festivals! Here in Maharashtra gujhiyas are made on Diwali and being here so long made me mix it all up. You can make them by hand? That’s seriously inspiring.

  3. It was the same for us during Diwali. Mom would make goodies with neighbours joining in and we would ‘help’ them. After marriage, I never made anything at home and it was all store bought. And today, I changed to something really dramatic and my mom’s not happy about it. I baked 2 different cakes (in 6 moulds) and some 25 cup cakes for gifting in family and general hogging. And my mom’s like “who eats cakes on Diwali?” So yes, I have changed the traditions completely but I like to console myself that AG will have different set of memories which are wonderful nevertheless!

    1. I can empathise with your mom – who bakes cakes for Diwali? :-). But I do agree that our children will have different kind of memories and that should be fine. After all I’m sure my mom’s childhood Diwali was different from ours. So traditions have a way of being replaced.

  4. We used to celebrate Diwali with fire crackers. There weren’t this extensive alvariety of sweets made at home. I don’t know if it is Kerala thing or just my home. At my husband’s side, they don’t even burn crackers for Diwali. Now we celebrate with diyas, and making sweets which my kid loves. It was nice to read your memories and how you are keeping the tradition alive in your own way, Tulika.

    1. It’s interesting how traditions are so very different in different homes. As long as we can keep some of them alive in some form or the other I think we should be satisfied.

  5. Such a beautiful post, full of nostalgia! I do try and make whatever I can manage, but it’s not like mom’s…Sigh.
    But, I too make do with cleaning the house, making rangolis and lighting diyas.

  6. Diwali has such fond memories for me. And since mum was such a fantastic cook, so many of my festival memories were around the goodies she made — gujhiyas, malpuas, kachoris, dahi vada and the list goes on. Luckily, I have picked her passion for food. In a way making what she made makes me feel closer to her, as if she was there smiling at me. And I know that the kids have a lot of memories around the food I cook. I actually started my food blog as the sons asked me to document my recipes. I know that is one regret I have that I don’t have mum’s recipes written somewhere. That said, I think festivals are much more than food and rituals. They are about doing things together and sharing laughs and happiness. That is what we nostalgically go back to in our memories and you are creating plenty of those. Innovate, change tradition as long as we give good wholesome memories to our kids. On that note, Happy Diwali to you and your family.

    1. Food really is an important part of festivals – that cannot be denied. I am glad you are documenting your recipes on the food blog. I do hope Diwali remains as a special festival in the memories of the children, no matter what they remember of it.

  7. My favorite memory is after my 12th standard exams, I went for coaching in Delhi… I came home for Diwali… that night, me and my brothers, we busted firecrackers whole night. roaming in my colony whole night with them and bursting crackers was fun.

    1. That’s the best part of Diwali – that everyone comes together. I remember going home for every single Diwali. Once I sat through the entire 26 hour journey on a wait listed ticket in the train just so I could be home.

  8. Oh! You brought back so many memories!! I too have fond memories of my mum and my granny making Diwali delicacies in the kitchen. My favourite was the Chakli and no matter how many granny made, they were never enough for me 🙂 I never much cared for the rest of the menu, which was very flavourful in itself – besan laddoos, chivda, sev, Karanji, chirote, shankarpale – oooh! But I am also going through guilt pangs that come festivals, the LO misses out on traditional food. And so, I have now learnt to make some of these myself. I make using small measures and even though I am nowhere near as perfect as granny or even mum, I am slowly getting there. 🙂 I hope someday our LOs too have fond memories to share like we do now. Happy festival to you! Enjoy!

    1. You know what? It was a friend mentioning Chirote that set off this whole post. She was going to the other end of the city to pick some up from a lady who made them. I didn’t even know what they were. But this it made me sad that if we don’t take the trouble to introduce our children all of this it will be forgotten over time. And that would be such a pity. BTW I googled Chirote and they look scrumptious.

  9. This is something I think of too. As being terrible in cooking, I rely on my parents and in-laws to do the traditional cooking during festivals. But, after that, what? I am trying to hold on to the traditions as much as I can.

  10. This is me in this post. I am also the one simplifying the festivals to the point that I do no other festival except for Diwali and this too not in the traditional way. You are right your children will not miss what they have not known but they will surely remember what you do with them for festivals. They are having fun the way you do it and that is what is important. Not being able to cook festive sweets, it is sisterhood for us. In my case, the discounting factor is D doesn’t like sweets and I should not be eating them. This year we will be having an elaborate Diwali with husband and in-laws staying over.
    You know now howcome I missed reading your posts as promptly as I do 🙂

  11. Tulika, you have some great memories and stories to tell your children. The traditions you are making with your children will stay with them for life. As for ma ke haath ka khaana – you can give them ma ke haath ki likhi storybook for keeps. Pen down your experiences of growing with them and present it to them on their 18th birthday 🙂

  12. Something about traditions, isn’t it? You’re always so connected to memories and family through them. I’m equally guilty of this. For one thing I can’t cook festive dishes the way mom does. For another I’m a tad lazy when it comes to the effort required for the festival. So yeah, when Gy gets the chance to spend it with the grandparents I’m thrilled. Because hopefully that way she’ll know what each festival means. I hope I can go back to it soon. Perhaps I will. This post is a reminder. Happy Diwali to you and the family, Tulika. Be blessed 🙂

    1. Thank you for the Diwali wishes. I wish our parents lived someplace closer. I spoke to my sister and she was having a hard time dissuading mom from going the whole hog for Diwali with both maids on leave. They just don’t change and here I am needing to push myself to go beyond the bare minimum.

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