Delhi – the walled city, the capital – is heaving with people of all backgrounds, races, and religions.
In the midst of this perfect fall, Diwali provides an occasion to celebrate, the start of a new year per the Hindu calendar. It’s the perfect time to gather loved ones and celebrate all that is good in the world. With its symbolism of the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair, the festival of light brings people together in celebration, regardless of wealth or status, race or background, and even beliefs. Delhi, where I grew up, is all people and all religions, and Delhi, as a city, celebrates Diwali with lots of passion and fireworks.
Before Diwali, the excitement makes people clean, renovate and decorate their homes and offices. It lovingly brings all the members of the family and neighbors back together, much like a mom lovingly binds all her children together. Prized linen, crockery, and cutlery stored away for ‘best' are taken out with a flourish for Diwali – the most special of occasions. Gifts are exchanged between family members and the people dress in new clothes or their best outfit, light earthen lamps, and candles inside and outside their homes.
Diwali is a five-day ritual, and each ritual has its nostalgic significance. The disparity of the sizes of the houses or cars is forgotten. Thus, every home - from the smallest to the grandest - each window and door are left flung open, and earthen oil lamps are lit to welcome the Goddess of Wealth - Lakshmi. The menfolk get busy with decorating the exterior of the house with lights, and women and children decorate the entrances with Rangoli (pavement art) – creative designs using colored powder and flowers.
On this festive occasion, dinner tables are laden with sweets. As the sun sets, every home lights up small earthen lamps with cotton wicks dipped in desi ghee. Families dressed in new clothes gather around as firecrackers illuminate the evening skyline.
And this year, here in Toronto, we would like to invite you to celebrate Diwali with us at Indian Street Food Co. 1701, Bayview Avenue, Toronto. We may not be in Delhi, but we will all capture a little of its spirit and share it with each other.
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