As a community of people that grow up practicing rituals from birth, we don’t...
Deepavali in the UK with an Aha Twist
It is a cold autumn morning and She reminisces waking up at a time written down by her parents and braving the cold to take a head-bath in the wee hours of the morning. This is followed by waking the children up, who grudgingly open their eyes. A hint of oil is placed on their tiny heads while listening to wails & complaints, but the show must go on and the ritual is finally completed. The rituals that follow are practiced as much as possible in sweater weather and we move on to the good parts. Yes, getting new clothes that were sparingly bought at those unique locations in the city that sell Indian wear or if we’d been lucky enough that year to go back home, wear the clothes that we picked months in advance for this joyous occasion and were hid at the back of the cupboard to ward off temptation for both the kids and ourselves. Then, comes the most fun part, sweets & snacks time but not everyone realises the time, effort and just about a few dozen ingredients that have gone into making these mouth-watering delicacies. This is a typical Diwali scene at homes that have been built in other countries that are not the homes we were born in but have become home over time.
He has gone in search of that one Indian spice she lovingly asked him to buy on his way back from work. It’s not just his duty but he has been craving that dish for months now & hasn’t said anything only because he knows how much she single-handedly does for the both of them. He goes into shop after shop and the answer is like a broken tape recorder, they’re out of stock and will have to wait till it is shipped next month. He’s heartbroken as he doesn’t want to go home empty handed and as a last resort he calls up a colleague from work whom he knew shared similar culinary taste and wonder of wonders they have that irresistible ingredient. He drives ten kilometres away from his usual route home and the magical ingredient is given to him in a tiny bottle and packs it in his briefcase for that added safety and goes about his way home. The wife is waiting at the entrance as he is late and gives him an enquiring look, he nods and her face bursts into a huge smile. This is what he wanted to see, wait not just that, a few hours later he lets out a huge burp as they polish off the last off the dish, this is what he actually wanted.
Hot jalebis, gulab jamuns and mouth watering Gajjar ka Halwa along with Pooris, Dosa corners and multi-chutney stands were one of the first items of discussion in the Diwali planning committee. Everyone dressed up in their Diwali best, the whole community coming together, multiple performances and most of all seeing those faces that take us back to home and hearing voices that speak words in dialects that just make butterflies flutter in our hearts. This is the scene at Diwali parties / dinners that have been conducted for a few decades now. Life was very different pre-community days. Imagine being the only Indian for miles around, no familiar voices, sounds or smells. Life was very different. Right now, we live at a blessed time, I’m saying that despite Covid-19 because we live in a world that is truly a melting pot. We have our people flourishing all over the world and that has made life, upholding culture & traditions and most importantly celebrating festivals a communal affair. We are lucky we live in the times when our homes are being brought closer to us, even during this pandemic. Have you imagined a Deepavali in the UK with sweets & snacks freshly delivered from back home? I’m sure you have! Now that dream has become a reality and we are so proud to have brought this yearning of many to fruition. Wishing you all a very Happy Deepavali and hope you all have a wonderful Ganga Snaanam, wait isn’t it Thames Snaanam? Go figure! May this festival of lights, brighten your day and heart as you celebrate Diwali the Aha way!