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  • Writer's pictureanusha gopalakrishnan

Love, Light and Ladoos

Judging by the title of this post, you've most likely guessed what I am going to write about this time.... wait for it …. *drumroll* - DEEPAVALI / DIWALI or more commonly known as the Festival of Lights, around the globe.

A very special Deepavali as its the Hubs first Deepavali back home in seven years

For the benefit of my non-Malaysian or Indian readers, Deepavali is the most popular festival celebrated by Hindus all over the world. Deepavali is celebrated annually and it typically falls in the month of October or November. Basically, Deepavali is like Christmas for Hindus and it is a national holiday in Malaysia and India. There might be other countries that observe this holiday though. Most recently, the mayor of New York announced that Deepavali will be a public holiday starting in 2023. So that's a WIN.

The word Deepavali is derived from the words "Deep" and "Vali" which respectively mean light and a row. So simply put Deepavali means a row of lights and it signifies the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. So now that we are all informed about this festival; let me share with you as to how my family and I celebrate this special day.

Well, our Deepavali vibe pretty much revolves around cooking, eating, and, spending time with our loved ones. The days leading up to the festivities usually entail a much-dreaded elaborate spring cleaning spearheaded by my dad. His perfectionist self will not be satisfied until every inch of the house sparkles and is festival ready. I try my best to stay away from this process but my dad has a special way of sucking everyone in so I kinda have no choice. Haha! Jokes apart, the cleaning process does get everyone in the celebratory mood.

The highlight of Deepavali is the delicious food and during this time my mom's kitchen bustles with activity. The stars of Deepavali on the food front are murukku, Achi Murukku, Ladoos, Ghee Urundai, Ghee Thosai, Idly, mutton curry, chicken curry, Biryani, and, the list goes on and on! I personally enjoy preparing sweets and savoury with my loved ones as it is a perfect time to bond with the family.

Making Deepavali treats with mom while dad taste tests 😍

My grandma taught us how to make Ladoos. Unfortunately, our ladoos were not up to standard. Lol

Moments before these tiny balls of dough transform into melt in my mouth goodness

On the day of the festival, we wake up at the crack of dawn and the day begins with an oil bath. This tradition signifies new beginnings and hope. The rest of the day is spent feasting and making merry. My in laws usually visit the temple first thing in the morning of the festival and I have since embraced this new tradition where we visit the temple clad in new clothes and give thanks to God. This visit usually culminates in a long photo taking session much to the dread of the men in our family. Lol! sighs the things you gotta do for the gram. *wink*

A family photo at the temple on Deepavali morning 🔆

The rest of the day is spent sprawled in front of the TV while munching on them yummy goodies and chilling with family and friends. However, it is becoming really hard to have a full quorum during festivities. I think the last Deepavali that I celebrated with my siblings was back in 2019 but my husband was away that year so you can never really get a full house. Boy, doesn't adulting sucks. So that is typically what my Deepavali looks like in Malaysia surrounded by family, friends and lots of love.

Deepavali morning with my parents

Anyway, last year was the first time in my 31 years of life to have celebrated Deepavali away from home. Tevan (my husband) and I had the pleasure of celebrating this special occasion in Cheleken, Turkmenistan with our amazing friends. It turned out to be one of the best celebrations we ever experienced.

Just us having a filmy moment

So, a week before Deepavali, Tevan and I were lounging on the couch watching Top Chef and, on a whim, decided to host a small intimate Deepavali dinner. We agreed to invite a few of our closest friends for a small get together - the operative word here being SMALL. However, in true Malaysian style, the guest list snowballed very quickly - just like that we were expecting TWENTY people! We were low key panicking because firstly we've never cooked for more than 5 people at any given time and secondly, we will be introducing South Indian Cuisine to a crowd of Russians, Turks and Turkmens. This means that our cooking will either appease their palate or put them off Indian food for life #thepressureisreal but it was just too late for that and there is no going back! We soldiered on!

Fast forward to the day of the party, the whole community came together to help us out with the preparation. The sense of camaraderie was just something else, everyone went out of their way to lend their hand. Tevan and I managed to cook a spread of food with the help of our dear friend and neighbour, Kader. Kader even helped me to bake three types of cookies a few days before the party. She was truly a lifesaver.

I even had cute little helper

The guests started arriving at 7 pm and by then the festive spirit was in full swing. The song "Jalebi Baby" was blaring in the background and excited guests chattering away with drinks in their hands – the setting was exuding serious desi vibes. There was a free flow of drinks, snacks and an assortment of sweet treats courtesy of our thoughtful guests.

A 360 view of the party space

The dinner started off with a toast by Tevan followed by a spread of homecooked culinary delights and I emphasize on the word homecooked because boy it was no easy feat cooking Indian food for twenty people * mad respect for my mom who cooks for large crowds in a moment’s notice and making it look so effortless* the table was buzzing with conversation and laughter and much to our surprise the mutton curry was a crowd pleaser despite the spice level *yay*.

Once our bellies were full, we proceeded to take photos with every possible combination of the gang. These days, you can never go without taking photos or how else will people know that we had a good time. Hehe.

Instead of say cheese, we said say vanakam 🙏

Several Na Zdorovies (which translates to cheers in the Russian language) later, we headed out to gather by the bonfire. Please note that by that time there was a steady amount of vodka pumping through our veins so the cold didn’t bother most of us lol. It was about 9 degrees outside so we all huddled around the fire, drank more vodka, made jokes and had a ball of a time.

Great Food, Happy Bellies and Dope Company - It was indeed a Happy Deepavali

Kader channeling some serious desi vibes

The highlight of the party is when our dear friend, Elina presented us with a meaningful gift to commemorate the celebration. In Turkmenistan, the locals have a tradition where they pen down their wishes and attach it to a lantern which they will later release into the sky. This is done annually on the eve of New Year. So that is exactly, what we did – we made a wish and released the lantern into the sky and watch it soar and join all the bright stars above. It was just beautiful and a perfect ending to such a lovely evening.

At the end of the night, Tevan and I were so exhausted but our hearts were brimming with love and joy. We were so grateful to be able to share a piece of our culture with our Cheleken family and we hope that God will continue to reward us with more soul enriching experiences.

This year, Deepavali fell on the 24th of October which was a regular working day here in Jordan so we had a rather quiet celebration. While Tevan was at work, I cooked some ghee rice, mutton curry and vegetable salad to get a feel of the festivities. We definitely missed all the fanfare surrounding Deepavali this year but nonetheless are happy that we get to celebrate this occasion with each other and are looking forward to create traditions of our own.

We spent the evening talking to our families back home, and scrolling Instagram to see all the gorgeous celebratory photos that filled my feed. We prayed together, ate a hearty meal together, watched Family Man and called it a day. For those of you who watched Family Man might be wondering what a show to watch on Deepavali day but if you look at the bigger picture it actually resonates with the spirit of the festival i.e., the triumph of good over evil. I don’t even know why I wrote the last bit but I typed all these words and don’t feel like deleting them so I am just gonna leave it. Lol. Jokes apart, please go and watch the show if you have not, its GOOD!

That’s all from me for now. I would like to wish all those celebrating a very Happy Deepavali. Sending you lots of love and light in the hopes that you will eat lots of ladoos on my behalf.

Till next time. Toodles!

We don't have photos of us in traditional attire this year so here is one from last year 💖

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10 de nov. de 2022


anusha gopalakrishnan
anusha gopalakrishnan
14 de nov. de 2022
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Thank you 😊

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