Happy Deepavali everyone. I know it’s really late, all of you feel like deepavali was long ago, like me you’ve finished consuming all the sweets and bakshanams that were made or bought, but hey.. I am still earlier than the fireworks at the local temple.
Unlike last year, when the TV had been screaming Deepavali for more than a month, and made me feel like an unfortunate soul – this year the lack of publicity on TV and elsewhere made me feel a lot less dejected.
We bought our new clothes – all three of us bought pants and shirts. The weekend just ahead of Deepavali was really convenient because I could make some bakshanams without having to lose too much sleep.
Our new Friday ritual has been having dinner at New Chola Indian restaurant not far away from here. They are the only guys in the neighbourhood that consider South Indian cuisine part of Indian cuisine. Their buffet has two sweets, and one of them is invariably either Gaajar halwa or Beetroot halwa. So, I was inspired to try the same. So, I called amma and asked her, and she said – “romba simple!”. I should have known that if she said that, I should probably re-think my plan after the year before last year’s Coconut burfi fiasco. But anyway she asked me to grate the carrot and boil it in milk “onga oor lae thaan full fat milk kadaekumae.. adhula panina innum easy” she said. Take just enough milk to cover the carrots she said. I did all of that, and somehow expected that when I opened the cooker, I would see something quite close to halwa and that all I needed to do was toss it around a bit with ghee to have some yummy halwa. But duh! When I opened the cooker, I saw what was pretty much carrot kheer. So, my plan of starting at 9 and finishing at 10 vanished in thin air. For the next four hours, I watched “The rise of the Taj” on TV (review of that cannot be public please) while my kheer became halwa. Of course it tasted great, what with the loss of sleep and all that. The next day I started early. I made Jilebis with the Swad Jilebi mix that was available at the local Indian store. It was pretty good when fresh. Later it became kind of soggy. I however felt that it was lacking that sour taste that jilebis usually have. I then made the usual Thenkuzhal and Ribbon Pakoda.
On the morning of Deepavali, we managed to wake up in time, did our ‘yennai sasthram’, ‘ganga snanam’, wore our new clothes and left for work. My daughter was a darl all through it. The plan was to have dinner with P, Fa and S that night and then light up some sparklers, but boy was it cold, we decided it was not a good idea to stand out in the cold for sparklers. We had a heavy dinner, slept late and got to work late the next day. We did eventually fire up some sparklers the next day when it was a lot less colder.
In all Deepavali was good. I hope my daughter has some recollection of what she did this year, so that next year I can see her get excited a month ahead. Long shot may be.
This year Deepavali is specially important. There are a lot of stories associated with it, but to me it always has been the time to celebrate. As a child I looked forward to the new clothes, the fireworks, the bakshanams, the holiday. As an NRI maami, I look forward to the new clothes, the bakshanams, the excitement on my daughter’s face when she holds the sparklers, and the welcome distraction it offers from the fact that winter is slipping in silently and coldly. This year, with the economy drawing to a virtual halt, there are people Indians and otherwise who are probably facing the brunt of a lost job or foreclosed home. I hope Deepavali for them brought back memories of happiness and cheer and filled them with the hope that things will be good again.
Hope you all had a happy Deepavali.