Monday, 9 November 2015

Why I decided to make Gajar-Ka-Halwa this Diwali?

Photo: Abinaba Basu

I am not very fond of sweets. I restrict myself to occasional rasgulla or kaju katli. Even in terms of chocolates I stick to dark chocolates. So it's not a matter of obvious choice for me to make 'gajar ka halwa' on Diwali. Then why am I doing it?

Firstly, I think it's comparatively easy to make! But mostly, it's because I want to hold on to that thread which sews my entire childhood memories. I am from Kerala so we don't as such have Diwali but since I grew up in North India, it has always remained one of the most important festival to me.

Beauty of Diwali is that it's a family affair. My distinct memories involve Mom going on a cleaning rampage weeks before the main day with me and my sister (reluctantly) helping her with our room. Next on agenda was food. There are delicacies for every occasion. Like for Holi, it was homemade potato chips and Dahi wade (am drooling). For Diwali, there were gulab jamuns, gujiyas, namkeen, chakli, bundi ke ladoo's and parippu vada (mom's mallu touch).

Since I was the youngest, it was my job to go to neighbors/family-friends house with sweet platter. It took me lot of courage over the years to find my way through all those crackers people randomly burst on roads. But I loved it. Dressed in bright ethnic clothes, carrying tray full of delicious sweets and snacks was a responsibility I looked forward as a kid.

We were also in-charge of soaking the diyas(oil lamp made of clay) and keeping the entire set up ready(including refilling the oil in diyas). I wasn't a fan of loud crackers so we stuck to flower pots, chakri( I still don't know what's it called in English) and sparklers! Mom was the only one adventurous among us so late at night she would resort to 'mirchi bomb'!

Diwali was a dazzling night, filled with laughter and aromas intoxicating the very soul. It was truly a night of sparkle, outside and inside alike. In last couple of years, we have all drifted away (with me spending most of the time away from home), somehow I lost the spirit of Diwali.

Often, I reminiscent of the glorious Diwali days I spent as a child and feel nostalgic. But now  I realize that all is not lost. I can still create new memories and new Diwali rituals for my new family!

And that's why I am going to take a baby step and start by making 'gajar ka halwa' and light few good old diyas!

Happy Diwali :)

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