Diwali is a festival of lights that is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists around the world. The five-day festival takes place in late fall, coinciding with the Hindu lunar calendar.
It’s a celebration of victory of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. The festival is marked by joy and happiness. There are strings of lights and Diya (clay lamps) displayed around neighborhoods, and people gather around and rejoice with family and friends.
Below, two of our team members, Harshal and Ruchira, share some of their Diwali memories and talk about what festival means to them.
What does Diwali mean to you?
Harshal: Diwali was my favorite festival growing up. It is about our families and traditions. Diwali meant taking some time off school, not worrying about homework, and just re-immersing yourself with your buddies. We enjoyed home cooking, firecrackers, and building a fort in the backyard. It was a week full of fun!
Ruchira: Diwali means festivities, food, firecrackers, and lots of fun.
What is your favorite Diwali childhood memory?
Harshal: My favorite memory is we used to take a long time and put a lot of work into building a small fort. The part of India I came from, the historic significance is, years ago Maratha fought with Mughals in the foothills of Sahyadri.
During Diwali, we used to replicate that history with warriors, little animals, and crops and build a fort. It was fun building and staging it in front of adults, and I am trying to replicate that memory with my kids here as well.
Ruchira: My favorite childhood memory is lighting firecrackers. We would start almost a month before Diwali and enjoy lots of good food and sweets.
What is your favorite food or candy during Diwali?
Harshal: It’s hard to pick one, but if I’m hard pressed, I think it would be what’s called chakli. There is a special eight-grain blend you roast and turn into flour, and it has a very specific aroma. This was my first experience with an extruder, which became a big part of what I do as a food scientist today.
There was this little, tiny extruder with a little star-shaped hole. You would press the dough through it and directly into hot boiling oil, and that aroma of the chakli screamed that Diwali was coming. To this day, chakli is my favorite snack and favorite Diwali food.
Ruchira: My favorite candy is chocolate covered almonds made by Cadbury.