Happy Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas!
Wishing all our customers and colleagues a Happy Diwali and Happy Bandi Chhor Divas!
Diwali, known also as the Festival of Lights, is one of the main festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists. Diwali symbolises the spiritual victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. In the Sikh religion this celebration is known as Bandi Chhor Divas. The exact dates of Diwali change each year and are determined by the position of the moon- but usually falls between October and November. This year, Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas fall on 12th November 2023.
The word Diwali (or Deepavali as it’s sometimes called) means “row of lights” in an Ancient language of India, called Sanskrit. During this festival, people decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps, called diyas.
What is Diwali about?
Each religion marks different historical events and stories.
• Hindus celebrate the return of deities Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after their 14-year exile. They also celebrate the day Mother Goddess Durga destroyed a demon called Mahisha.
• Sikhs commemorate Bandi Chhor Divas, the anniversary of Guru Hargobind Ji being released from the prison at Gwalior Fort in 1619 AD, along with 52 Hindu Kings. Upon their return to Amritsar, grand celebrations were held and Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) was illuminated with lots of lights and candles. It is a day of reflection on how we can all learn from this history, and helping others regardless of background, religion, or any other characteristics.
• The founder of Jainism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (nirvana, or eternal bliss).
Rangoli is a popular Diwali tradition –– beautiful patterns made using colourful powders and flowers. People draw rangoli on the floor by the entrance of their homes to welcome the gods and bring good luck!
Why is Diwali important for colleagues and customers?
Colleagues celebrate Diwali by spending time with their friends and family- making sweets, sharing food, and illuminating lots of lights. The whole of India lights up and a great sense of pride in the celebration of Diwali is how our colleagues feel. Another great activity is bursting crackers with children. Traditionally, fireworks and crackers are set off to ward off evil spirits and celebrate Lakshmi’s victory over darkness.
Did you know?
The City of Leicester is said to have the biggest Diwali celebration outside of India.
More than 800 million people celebrate Diwali worldwide. During Diwali, fine clothes are worn, fireworks lit, worship ceremonies take place and feasts take place- with mithai (sweets) being a key element.
Why not try some Diwali recipes yourself, here are 2 to get you started:
Onion Bhajis (Savoury):
• 2 onions, finely sliced
• 100g gram flour
• ½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
• ½ tsp chilli powder
• ½ tsp turmeric
• 1 green chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
• vegetable oil for frying
• Step 1: Soak the onion in cold water while you make the base mix. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the chilli powder, turmeric, chopped chilli and a good sprinkling of salt. Mix in about 100ml of cold water to make a thick batter – add a splash more if it feels too stiff.
• Step 2: Drain the onion well and mix it into the batter. Heat about 5cm of oil in a wok or deep pan. Do not fill the pan more than a third full. Add a tiny speck of batter. If it rises to the surface surrounded by bubbles and starts to brown, then the oil is hot enough for frying.
• Step 3: Lower heaped tbsps of the bhaji mixture into the pan, a few at a time, and cook for a few mins, turning once, until they are evenly browned and crisp, so about 3-4 mins. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with a little salt and keep warm while you cook the rest.
Gajar Halwa (sweets)
• 500g carrots, coarsely grated
• 8 green cardamom pods, pierced with a knife
• 500ml whole milk
• 125g unsalted butter
• 100g caster sugar
• 25g raisins
• 25g blanched almonds or chopped pistachios, roughly chopped
• Step 1: Put the carrots, pierced cardamom pods and milk in a heavy-based pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hr, stirring frequently until the milk has evaporated.
• Step 2: Heat the butter in a deep pan, and stir-fry the carrot mixture for about 15-20 mins until darkened in colour and it has lost its wet, milky appearance.
• Step 3: Add the sugar, raisins and almonds or pistachios, and stir-fry the halwa for another 5 mins. Serve hot. Also tastes great with ice cream.