Yesterday was the second day of Diwali and we celebrated by attending a banquet hosted by the company Hubby’s father works for. The banquet was held under typical Indian colored canopies with long tables of seemingly endless food, from appetizers, street food favorites, to entrees and desserts. I enthusiastically snapped pictures of all the caterers frying and cooking every dish. I think I held up the buffet line quite a bit but it was worth it! There’s always a danger at these large banquets to eat too much so I just had a little sampling of everything. I came away feeling full but not too overwhelmed. I bravely tasted unknown dishes including a curd rice served in a lotus leaf.
The owners of the company are Gujarati, from the west Indian state of Gujarat. Typically, Gujarati women dress in saris and it was a sea of stunning silk and embroidered fabrics in every color. I’ve always adored saris but have never had the opportunity to wear any as it’s not usually worn by Punjabis who prefer wearing Punjabi suits also known as Salwar Kameez. Then I saw a woman I have met a few times on our previous India trips. She was wearing a sea-green sari with a full-length blouse that covered her stomach and I was enthralled with her dress. I went up to her and told her how much I loved that it covered her stomach since I had never seen that before. She enjoyed my curiosity so much that she proceeded to line up the other ladies to demonstrate the different styles of wrapping the fabric. When I asked her where she had got her sari, it was tailor made as saris don’t typically come that way. She offered to take me out shopping with her after the Diwali festivities and I fully intend to take her up on that offer. If I could come home from this trip finally owning a sari I could wear, I’ll be a very happy traveler!
The party first started inside the office, where every hallway was decorated with traditional Diwali decorations of colored powder which is sprinkled into intricate designs called rangoli. The stairs were lined with diyas, special candles used during Diwali time.
The women and men all separated into different rooms. I was asked to join the women but I didn’t like the idea of sitting in a room of Hindi speakers without Hubby with me to translate. Hubby and I were forced to seperate and the group of women began to question me a bit about our visit and soon realized I didn’t understand a word they were saying. So rather than asking me about our trip and how the family is doing, they talked to each other about my visit (some of the women had apparently gotten all the updates about our visit from visiting Mummy-ji earlier). I’m getting used to a large group talking about me while I observe silently.
Soon it was time to head down to the feast.
The majority of the food was south Indian cuisine, which allowed me to try a lot of new food I don’t normally cook at home. It was served in a fusion of styles, mixing the banana leaves which are traditionally used in some parts of South India as plates, and western plates and spoons. No knives or forks provided so it was important to know how to eat with your hands.
Different types of coconut chutney
Vada, made from lentils and typically eaten with soupy, spicy Sambhar
Freshly made Kulchas – a baked bread made from all-purpose flour, very similar to naan.
Pooris, deep fried bread. Hubby’s favorite!
Dal (spicy lentils) and Chole (tangy garbanzo beans in a sauce)
Another type of Vada
Papadum – a thin, crispy cracker and Meetha Paan – a sweet palate cleanser with coconut, fruit preserves and rose petals wrapped in a betel leaf.
Kulfi – traditional Indian ice cream made from unwhipped cream, similar to a custard based ice cream.
After filling ourselves at the party we went home and discovered a pile of sweets that had been brought to the house while we were gone. Some of the sweets were shipped from New Delhi by Hubby’s family friends. Though I had already filled myself up at the party, I couldn’t help trying out a few of these sweets.
Day two of Diwali seems to be all about visiting with friends and family and sharing sweets and food. Can’t wait for the big festivities tonight!
Not only are endless amounts of sweets being eaten in celebration here in India, but it’s also one of my favorite holidays back home! Happy Halloween to you all back in the States! I’ve missed being home for all the costumes and trick-or-treaters. What did you do to celebrate your Halloween?
The whole world seems to be celebrating. Happy Diwali and Happy Halloween to all!