Yesterday, Indians around the world celebrated Diwali known as the Festival of Lights. It’s the Indian equivalent of Christmas Day and Chinese New Year and a time for prayers, prezzies, and partying. Kuldip and I were fortunate to be in India and to have good friends with which to rejoice.
Our Diwali began at around 1.00pm with snacks at Sunny and Gauri’s home in Chandigarh. While our men chatted about the woes of the world including their golf game, the Indian economy and the voters’ move against Modi, we girls, including their eighteen-year-old daughter, Kamya, had a great time playing dress-ups with her mum, Gauri’s, gorgeous wardrobe.
We spent the rest of Diwali with friends Divye, Sonia and other members of their family that included her sister, Nanveet and her husband Neeraj and son and Daughter Shantanu and Srishti respectively. Sonia hosted a Chaat Party that comprises a range of tasty dishes and morsels including Golgappa.
Golgappa (or Panipuri) includes a hollow ball of fried ‘dough’ that is as light as air. One cracks it open, like a boiled egg, into which goes a flavoursome blend of vegetables and spices. A piquant soupy concoction is then poured over the veggie mix to fill the ball. The test is to get the exploding ball in your mouth in one go and to get it down without getting it down the front of your kurta instead! It was a walk in the park for all the ‘big-mouthed’ boys, including Kuldip. The guys then resorted to adding Bacardi rum to the mix to spice it up even more! We gracious girls, however, struggled to eat our fair share with elegance and poise.
At sunset, Divye, Sonia and their two daughters, Shreerupa and Medha, set about lighting candles in and around the house for prayers, or Puja. Diwali marks the end of the financial year in India, so Hindus pray to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. Fireworks and colourful flashing lights are as much a part of Diwali as are family, food and floor art called, Rangoli.
Gauri and her ten-year-old son, Vansh, designed the colourful Rangoli at their place while Divye and Sonia’s twelve-year-old daughter, Shreerupa, did their lovely floral floor art.
Our contribution was to help launch a couple of hot air balloons into the wild inky-blue yonder. Soon after take-off, the Bedi balloon got stuck, high up on the branch of a tree nearby. After a few tense minutes, a gentle breeze set it free. As the balloon drifted away with its candle and not the neighbour’s tree ablaze, Divye said to Kuldip, with a glint his eye: “Who said there wasn’t a God.”