Reva Gandhi– Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)- You may not realize it, but this is a holiday week…at least for my family and me.
My family is from Gujarat, India and we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights.
Diwali is a traditional Indian holiday that celebrates the ending of Lord Rama’s 14-year exile from the forest. After defeating the evil King Ravan, Lord Rama was finally welcomed home. All over India, Hindus light oil candles to help Lord Rama find his way back home.
Diwali is a time for unity, when neighbors come together to create a magical time.
This special time of year is a chance to gather and celebrate the past year’s challenges and successes. This year, Diwali falls on Saturday, Nov. 14. The festivities, however, span throughout the week.
When I think of Diwali, I think of mouth-watering food, soft lighting, and a week filled with activity.
On the first day of Diwali, we deep clean the house, to purge our lives of evil spirits. If you couldn’t guess, this is my least favorite part of the festival.
Over the next few days, we make handmade diyas, oil lamps made from clay and ghee, and light them using cotton wicks. The diyas are meant to protect our home from evil spirits.
Throughout the week, we also adorn our patio with rangolis, colorful design patterns made from rice or sand. My favorite design to both make and look at is a lotus flower.
Finally, after a week of anticipation, Diwali is here. On the day of, I put on a long, colorful Indian lengha suit, a dress which is typically embroidered or adorned with jewels.
I then spend the day with my family cooking delicious food. The kitchen is filled with all sorts of batters, snacks, and chutneys.
Due to all the baking, my house is filled with the most delicious scents. We will also fry puri (a soft deep-fried bread), lentil or potato bhajia (deep-fried fritters), and samosa in the afternoon.
Of course, Diwali also comes with many desserts. Some of my favorites include jalebi, a dough dipped in sugar syrup, Besan Ladoo, a dessert ball made with gram flour and sugar, and Kaju kathli, a dessert made of cashews.
However, before I can eat anything, I must pay my respects to my parents. After we then take part in a Lakshmi Pooja, a prayer to celebrate prosperity for the new year.
The rest of the evening goes by so fast. Once dinner is finished the evening is spent dancing to fun Bollywood songs and when it gets dark, we go outside to celebrate with sparklers and more sweets.
As the night slips away, there is hope for a better year.