Diwali, also known as Deepavali, stands out as one of India’s most beloved and cherished festivals. The word “Diwali” comes from the Sanskrit word “Deepavali,” which means a row of lights. It’s a celebration that signifies the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. People across the nation hold Diwali close to their hearts, celebrating it with immense enthusiasm. In this blog, we the “Chulbul Bunny – Healthy Tummies & Happy Babies” brings you the significance of Diwali in India and dive into how the people of Maharashtra celebrate this festival. Plus, we’ll tantalize your taste buds with the array of delectable Maharashtrian snacks that are an integral part of the Diwali festivities.
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The Significance of Diwali in India
Diwali is a festival celebrated with great diversity across India. While there are regional variations, common themes and stories unite the hearts and minds of people throughout the country.
Victory of Good Over Evil
One of the core stories associated with Diwali is the triumph of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. According to the epic Ramayana, Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana. The people of Ayodhya welcomed them by lighting oil lamps, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness and the triumph of good over evil.
Goddess Lakshmi’s Blessings
Diwali is also a time to honor and worship Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu deity of wealth and prosperity. It is believed that on the night of Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi visits homes to bless them with wealth and abundance. To welcome her, people clean and decorate their homes, lighting oil lamps and seeking her divine favor.
Strengthening Family Bonds
In some parts of India, Diwali is celebrated as Bhai Dooj, a festival that reinforces the bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters pray for their brothers’ well-being and perform aarti, a ritual of worship with fire, to bless them with a long and prosperous life. Brothers, in turn, offer gifts to their sisters as a gesture of love and protection.
Victory of Knowledge
In South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Diwali is celebrated as Deepavali, signifying the triumph of knowledge. Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon Narakasura, symbolizing ignorance and darkness, is commemorated with lighting lamps and bursting firecrackers.
Diwali in Maharashtra
The state of Maharashtra, with its rich cultural heritage, has its unique way of celebrating Diwali. The festival holds immense importance here, and the people celebrate it with distinctive fervor.
In Maharashtra, Diwali commences with “Vasu-baras,” a day dedicated to the worship of cows. Cows, considered symbols of prosperity and wealth, are honored on this day. It’s a way for people to express their gratitude for the bovine companions who contribute to their livelihood.
The next day, Naraka Chaturdashi, begins with an early morning oil bath and a soothing head massage. In the evening, a puja is performed to cleanse the household of any lurking evil spirits.
The fourth day of Diwali, Balipratipada or Padwa, is dedicated to the special bond between husbands and wives. Wives perform a puja for their husbands, wishing them a long and prosperous life. This day emphasizes the significance of togetherness in a marital relationship.
The fifth day, known as Bhau-beej, celebrates the unbreakable bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters mark their brothers’ foreheads with a tilak, offer them sweets, and wish for their well-being. In return, brothers present gifts as a token of their love and protection.
One distinctive aspect of Diwali in Maharashtra is the illumination of homes. People decorate their homes with lanterns and oil lamps, lighting the path to welcome Lord Rama, believed to return to Ayodhya after his victory over Ravana.
Delectable Maharashtrian Snacks for Diwali
One of the most delightful aspects of Diwali is the wide variety of scrumptious snacks and sweets prepared during this festival. These snacks, collectively known as “Faral” in Marathi, are not only a treat for the taste buds but also an integral part of Diwali celebrations. Let’s explore some of the popular Maharashtrian snacks made during Diwali:
Chakli is a crispy, spiral-shaped snack prepared with rice flour, gram flour, and a blend of spices. It’s deep-fried to perfection, boasting a unique texture and a burst of flavors.
Shev is another delightful snack crafted from chickpea flour, spiced with ingredients like cumin seeds, red chili powder, and asafoetida. It’s extruded through a special shev maker to create thin, noodle-like strands, followed by deep-frying.
Karanji, also known as Gujiya in other regions, is a sweet dumpling filled with a mixture of grated coconut, jaggery, and cardamom. It’s deep-fried to a golden hue and garnished with powdered sugar or desiccated coconut.
Shankarpali is a sweet and savory snack made from a mixture of maida (all-purpose flour), sugar, and ghee. The dough is cut into diamond-shaped pieces and deep-fried to a delightful golden-brown.
Anarsa is a sweet snack prepared from soaked and ground rice, combined with sugar and poppy seeds. These crispy, sweet treats are a Diwali specialty in many Maharashtrian households.
Ladoo, a favorite Indian sweet, comes in various forms during Diwali. One common type is Rava Ladoo, prepared with semolina, sugar, and ghee. Coconut Ladoo and Besan Ladoo are also popular choices.
Shakarpara, also known as Shankarpali, is a crunchy, sweet snack made from maida, sugar, and ghee. The dough is cut into small diamond-shaped pieces, deep-fried, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Puran Poli is a traditional sweet flatbread stuffed with a mixture of chana dal (split chickpea) and jaggery. It’s a wholesome and satisfying sweet dish that adds a unique flavor to the Diwali feast.
The Significance of Diwali Snacks
Diwali snacks are not just delectable treats; they carry profound cultural and emotional significance:
- Hospitality: Offering snacks to guests is an essential part of Diwali celebrations, reflecting the warm and welcoming nature of the hosts and creating a sense of togetherness.
- Gifting: Exchanging sweets and snacks is a cherished Diwali tradition, symbolizing love, respect, and the strengthening of bonds between families, friends, and neighbors.
- Religious Symbolism: Many Diwali snacks are prepared with ingredients and shapes that hold religious significance. The act of making these snacks is considered a form of devotion and offering to the deities.
The Preparation of Diwali Snacks
The process of making Diwali snacks is a labor of love, often involving multiple generations of a family coming together to prepare these treats. Here’s a simplified version of how these snacks are crafted:
- Ingredient Preparation: The initial step involves gathering and preparing the necessary ingredients. This includes sifting flours, roasting spices, and ensuring that all elements are in order.
- Dough and Filling: For sweet snacks like Karanji or Puran Poli, a filling or stuffing is prepared by combining ingredients like grated coconut, jaggery, and cardamom. For savory snacks, a dough is crafted using flour, spices, and ghee.
- Shaping: The dough or filling is then shaped into the desired forms. For instance, Chakli is made by pressing the dough through a special Chakli maker, and Karanji is shaped into half-moon pockets.
- Frying: The shaped snacks are deep-fried until they attain a golden-brown and crispy texture. It’s crucial to maintain the right temperature and avoid overcooking.
- Cooling and Storing: Once fried, the snacks are allowed to cool before being stored in airtight containers to maintain their freshness.
Diwali is a festival that brings joy, love, and togetherness into people’s lives. It’s a time to celebrate the victory of good over evil, seek the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, and strengthen family bonds. In Maharashtra, Diwali holds a special place, and the snacks prepared during this festival, collectively known as “Faral,” add to the festive spirit.
These assorted sweets and savory delights tantalize your taste buds while symbolizing hospitality, togetherness, and tradition. They are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Maharashtra and the warmth of its people.
As you celebrate Diwali, whether you’re in Maharashtra or any other part of India, take a moment to savor these delectable snacks and appreciate the significance they hold in this festival of lights. From Chakli to Karanji, these snacks are more than just food – they are a symbol of love, tradition, and the joy of coming together with family and friends during this auspicious time. May your Diwali be filled with light, love, and the delightful flavors of Maharashtrian Faral. Happy Diwali!