For Jigna Sanganee, a Gujarati homemaker, celebrating Diwali with family and friends makes it an exciting festival to cherish. “Indian attire, delicious homemade food treats, and the joy of celebrating the festival with elders and the young generation together make these occasions memorable.”
She is hosting two parties at her house as pre, and post-Diwali meet this year. She loves to prepare food for her guests and picks a theme for each year’s gatherings, so the guests are delighted with her food surprises.
“In the past, I had prepared Mexican, Italian, South Indian, Punjabi, and Gujarati food for my guests. This year, I plan to have Rajasthani cuisine, with mouth-watering treats such as dal-batti churma, gatta subzi, makai roti and more.”
She usually hosts around 70 guests at home for festive occasions but decided to split the gathering this year, inviting a small group of guests in each get-together. “I am inviting only those friends and family members whom I know are fully vaccinated, as safety is my priority even during festive celebrations.”
She loves to decorate her home, make new rangolis on all five days of Diwali, and light the house with rows of diyas and electric lights, all of which are included in her plans this year.
On Diwali day, Jigna, her husband and son plan to visit her brother-in-law’s home for the Lakshmi puja celebrations, keeping the tradition of celebrating festivities together alive. “I make sure to follow all the traditions and want to pass our festive customs to the next generation.”
Celebrations with Karaoke
Another homemaker, Babitha Sudhesh also has plans to invite her friends home on Diwali for a traditional Diwali dinner. A Kannadiga from Bengaluru, Babitha plans to serve up regional treats such as bisibele bath, daal vada, kheer, kosambari, surali poori and Mysore pak for her guests. “The dinner will be followed by karaoke since we all enjoy singing Bollywood songs from yesteryears.”
The place where she stays [Karama] is already bubbling with the Diwali spirit. “It’s great to go around the city and watch many buildings lit beautifully with colourful lights, symbolising the Diwali festival. Our social group is also planning dinner at a restaurant on one of the Diwali days,” she adds.
“Several neighbours will be dropping by at our place, and we also plan to visit some to extend Diwali greetings and share homemade delicacies. We hope to spread the festive cheer with our staff (bachelors) as well, sending homemade treats to our office.”
She explains the festive rituals saying that on Naraka Chaturdashi, which is Diwali’s first day, a traditional oil bath is done, followed by puja and bursting of fireworks. “Dhanteras, which precedes Diwali is special in itself, as we purchase gold or silver as a symbol of auspiciousness and place it in front of the deities during Lakshmi Puja, with prayers offered to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. The next day is Bali Padyami, where besides the traditional puja at home, we also decorate the vehicles with garlands and offer prayers.”
Capture memories for Instagram
For Rita Jivani, a Bhatia (a particular Indian sect), every festive decoration must be stylish and exceptional. A certified skincare formulator, Rita hopes to launch a natural skincare range. She plans to decorate a corner of her living room with unique flower arrangements and accessories, creating an Instagram booth. “This corner of the room will be a focal point, where we will pose for a family picture or a selfie with a freezing dance moment.”
She is delighted to invite and meet her extended family and close friends this year. “All our family members and friends love music, dancing and clicking photos. So that spot will add to the fun.”
“My family and I will do every decoration, ensuring to brighten every corner of the house with diyas, lights, and fresh flowers adorning our entrance, as this brings in abundance and prosperity and creates a welcoming atmosphere for the guests.”
“As Diwali gifts for my loved ones this year, I am planning to prepare a special hamper with some exciting, handpicked skincare goodies and healthy food treats that promote glowing skin.”
Go for personalised gifts
Rashmi Menon and her two daughters are also planning to make customised gift hampers as gifts for friends. Menon is a talent acquisition and development manager, who follows a mix of south and north Indian traditions during Diwali, as she is a Keralite married to a Punjabi.
“My elder daughter is a baker, and she is planning to make traditional jeera cookies, and the younger one is preparing the diyas for the hampers. I am collecting different things as per my friends’ preferences and style to place them in the hampers. My girls are excited about making the rangoli, which I used to do when I was a kid, and now my daughters are taking over.
“We will take a day off from work on Diwali and have a small gathering in the evening after Lakshmi Puja. It will be with our three close friends and their families, as we celebrate Diwali together every year at my place.”