Although I am shelving most world travel for now, I can still explore the world through different tastes, sounds, sights and events and share them with my kids. One celebration that I have become more familiar with is Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights which celebrates the triumph of good over evil. At this point in history, a celebration of this is exactly one to embrace and I have decided to dig deeper into this tradition and share a taste of Diwali with my family.
Here are a few ways to enjoy Diwali this year and introduce your kiddos to this colorful tradition if they haven’t already been.
Traditions and Celebrations
I decided to ask Shibani, one of my friends who has celebrated Diwali since she was a child, what it means to her and how we can partake.
Q: Ok, so we have known each other for well over a decade and I have heard about Diwali here and there from you. All I know is that sometimes you throw a mean party and make amazing food. Tell me a little bit more about what Diwali meant to you as a child, and what it means to you as an adult.
Shibani: Diwali is india’s most famous festival, commonly known as the Festival of Lights, or the happiest festival. It has its roots in the Hindu religion, but modern celebrations are largely secular. The 5 day festival is a celebration of good over evil, light over darkness, and love over hate. The celebration involves friends and family, there are a lot of parties, and everyone really dresses up (both themselves and their homes) for the occasion.
As a child, most of all I loved knowing that I would have 5 days off from school. My parents and I used to go to my grandparent’s second home in the hills, where my grandparents would spoil me silly with my favorite foods and treats. There were new outfits, and toys — basically all the reasons little kids love Christmas LOL.
As an adult, I appreciate it as a way to introduce my friends to my culture and my traditions, and frankly, Diwali has some of the best traditions! Your readers are welcome to follow along with me on Instagram (www.instagram.com/bombaytaxiboutique) – I will be sharing daily traditions for the next 5 days!
Q: What is something people who are unfamiliar with the celebration should know?
Shibani: So Diwali is a single day (Thursday, October 18th this year), but the celebration actually lasts 5 days. The first day welcomes the Goddess of Wealth, the second day is the official Diwali-prep day, the third day is the big D – Diwali, the fourth is Indian New Year, and the fifth is a day for siblings to celebrate each other. We go all-out in India.
Q: How can I share Diwali with my kids in a meaningful yet respectful way?
Shibani: Halloween and Diwali often fall in close proximity to each other — dressing as an Indian person for Halloween is incredibly disrespectful (unless you ARE of Indian descent), but other than that, it is a fun holiday that is meant to be SHARED. So, if you have Indian friends, ask them about how they celebrate, and what the day means to them. If you don’t have Indian friends, you may want to try an Indian recipe (the New York Times Cooking section has some good ones), or buy some ready-to-assemble Indian food from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Light lots of candles and make it a really festive meal. It’s a great way to get kids to try a new cuisine, and who doesn’t love a celebration. Don’t forget dessert!
If you’re invited to be a part of a Diwali celebration, you should absolutely go! Some good hostess gifts for the occasion: flowers, Scotch (Indian people LOVE Scotch), a decadent dessert, and if you know your hostess well, you can’t go wrong with jewelry (www.bombaytaxiboutique.com/shop).
Be prepared to eat a LOT! You may even participate in some light fireworks (think sparklers, not a big July 4th show), and you may even be asked to participate in some gambling — these are all part of the tradition. Love through food, Light via the fireworks, and Luck with a little gambling 🙂
Q: Now, I know this is a very colorful celebration which I KNOW you adore since you have your very own jewelry boutique selling stunningly colorful pieces hand-crafted in India. Have aspects of Diwali or Indian culture in general influenced your tastes?
Shibani: Without a doubt – I LOVE color, particularly bright jewel tones. And although I wear a lot of black to work, my weekend and cocktail attire is certainly a lot brighter. When I’m wearing black to work, I tend to accessorize with statement jewelry, both with and without colorful stones – just to get in my color fix. Being Indian also means that I almost never think that anything is too outlandish: want to pair pink and gold together, studded with rhinestones – of course you should!!! Purples, blues and greens all in one outfit – go for it!! MORE IS MORE (which is also my life mantra).
|Kiara Earrings in Moonstone + Green Onyx|
I think one of my favorite parts about being Indian is how much hospitality plays a role in our culture – it is generally a welcoming culture, and if you’re a visitor to India, you will be asked and encouraged to participate in all kinds of cultural festivities. I know more than one story of tourists gawking at Indian weddings, and them promptly being invited to join along! When an Indian person asks you to join them, we’re not just doing it to be nice — we REALLY want you to participate and enjoy our culture!
(Thanks S for sharing, I can’t wait to shop Bombay Taxi Boutique for more fabulous finds, and follow your Insta feed this week!!)
Yep, it has taken me years to decently prepare traditional American food (I make a mean Spaghetti and Meatballs), so obviously I am uncomfortable tackling Indian food for fear of culinary disaster. Indian cooking has a myriad of various spices and flavors, and I would be totally lost trying to decipher what to use.
I wanted to give my kids a taste of Indian food, though, so looked to my friends at the zen of slow cooking who developed an Indian Dal spice blend designed for the slow cooker with premium spices. They have partnered with Peapod to create a Vegan Red Lentil Curry & Coconut dish that takes just 5 minutes of prep time. You seriously can’t mess this up.
It includes naan, basmanti rice, pickled red onions, cilantro and all the ingredients to create a savory meal in the traditional Indian style.
I made this for my kids and I one night- Bryson took a taste and opted out but Charlotte gobbled a bowl with a piece of naan. Me? I thought the flavors were incredibly rich and almost addictive!
You can grab the spice blend alone on the zen site to make a variety of dishes, or pick it up at a local Whole Foods:
I am a big beer fan and always adore new brews, so I would pair this with a Kingfisher or Taj Mahal! Beer balances any heat and complements the dishes flavors. I tasted these when I reviewed Siri Indian Restaurant in Wheeling.
Cheers to getting a taste of Diwali and joining in this celebration of life, light and all things good. Thank you to my dear friend Shibani for sharing her traditions, and being such an inspiration to #girlbosses everywhere.