Sometime this week, you might notice families out about dressed in traditional Indian clothes, carrying boxes of sweets, and stopping by various brightly lit houses.
That’s because one of India’s biggest festival, Diwali, is coming up on October 19th!
For the uninitiated, let us break it down for you.
What is Diwali?
Diwali or Deepavali, commonly called the festival of lights, literally means “row of lights”.
While it is assumed to be a Hindu festival, it is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains all over the world. In fact, Diwali is such a significant part of Indian culture that it is celebrated by all in the country. The actual date is usually decided by the lunar calendar and is generally the third day of a five-day ritual-heavy festival.
Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil, specifically the legend of Rama defeating the king of Lanka, Ravana, and his eventual return from exile to his kingdom in the mythological tale Ramayana. And boy is it a celebration! At practically every house you see oil lamps in earthen pots (diyas) or electric lights along with geometric rangoli displays made of colored powder to mark Rama’s triumph. In India and a lot of countries with a large Indian community, families burst firecrackers (or sparklers) and mini-rockets as well! It’s all about bringing light, color and happiness this week!
What’s happening in Kuwait?
Anju Kakkar, a Kuwait resident who has been here since she was two years old, said that the social scene in the Indian community mostly revolves around people’s homes. So they find a way to match the Diwali festivities to what happens back in India, in their own uniquely Kuwait way.
“Back in the 70s, our Diwali would be spent visiting each other and distributing sweets,” she said. “Sometimes as kids we were taken to the beach on Gulf Street, and around 15 to 20 families would have a Diwali picnic.”
If you are looking to catch some “lights” action in Kuwait, Kakkar suggested visiting Salmiya, Farwaniya, and some parts of Fahaheel to spot apartments decorated with electric lights.
Also keep an eye out for community gatherings organized by regional/language-based groups and expect lots of delicious foods and sweets.
Did you say sweets?!
No Diwali, or for that matter any Indian festival, is complete without an array of mouthwatering sweets like ladoos and barfis to name a few.
In Kuwait, sweets used to be mostly homemade or picked up in the early hours from some small restaurants in Salmiya. But you’re never short for options!
“The black gulab jamun Mughal Mahal is quite a special treat for Diwali,” Gaurav Oberoi, the General Manager at Mezzan Holding, said. “The celebrations are otherwise more centred to your home.”
Other restaurants to pick up some sweets are Sargam, Taj 52 Sweets and Snacks Co., Ananda Adyar Bhavan, Thakkar in Salmiya Block 10, and Gokul and Sagar in Abu Halifa.
To all those celebrating, have a sparkling Diwali!
Featured image by phive2015 from iStock