It’s Diwali time! There are many stories associated with Diwali but the most famous is the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after forty years in exile.
The story goes that after rescuing his wife Sita from the evil clutches of the Demon King Ravan, he returned home accompanied by his brother Laxman and devoted servant Hanuman. It was dark and the villagers lit his way with little ‘Deeyas’ or lights. In those days they were made of clay with strings dipped in ghee. I still prefer these old versions.
Nowadays deeyas are decorated and colourful and we usually use candles instead of the strings in ghee. Millions of household across the world uphold this tradition and enhance it with dazzling displays of lights in the sky – fireworks!
Fireworks with friends and family
Children either love or are frightened of fireworks. As a child, I loved them and they were a favourite part of Diwali celebrations. I wouldn’t dare venture outside to watch. It was too cold and too noisy and I was afraid a stray firework would fall on my head. I would watch from my sister’s bedroom window as my Dad lit each one and it flew into the sky bursting into a million different colours. My favourites were the sparkly ones that didn’t make a bang. We weren’t particularly well off but we always had fireworks despite their expense. Our friends and family would come to watch and each year it felt the display got bigger.
Farsan – my favourite Diwali food
While the children and men were outside setting off fireworks, the women of our household were usually inside cooking. My favourite food at Diwali time is by far and away the ‘Farsan’. This is the collective word for ‘savoury snacks’ and at Diwali time we have lots! Samosa, Kachori, Bateta Vada, Bhajias of all sorts. Although these are eaten all year round, they still are a special treat and we’ll have a few varieties in the house at this time of year.
Two farsan I associate most with Diwali are ‘Fafra‘ and ‘Chakri‘. I grew up with these. My aunts and cousins would come to our house and we’d make my Mum’s recipe in large batches. Some of us would roll the dough out or twirl the chakri while others would stand and fry. These are not the healthiest of snacks but that’s probably why they taste so good!
Another job of mine was to decorate the farsan platter for visiting guests. Each year I’d use flowers, beads and scraps of sari material to make my displays. This year that task falls to my daughters whereas mine is to uphold the recipes lest they forget. I hope you enjoy them too.