How times have changed! Since I was a young girl, Diwali always meant family time. We used to visit family, eat copious amounts of nasto and mithai (Indian savouries and sweets), and it was the perfect time to meet all my cousins and get up to mischief. Growing up in a western society life generally takes over, and before you know it, you're stuck in the working world where taking a day off during the week to celebrate this festive period becomes a rare occasion. Spending weekends making traditional food becomes a chore when everything is readily available from the local supermarket. And trying to make the 'rounds' lasts for months as everyone becomes busy in their own little worlds. The number of Diwali cards delivered by post reduces every year as we evolve in the world of e-cards and emails. Spending the entire morning calling your distant relatives to wish them a “Happy Diwali and New Year” gets replaced by an impersonal forwarded whatsapp message.
What childhood memories do you have of this festive occasion that haven’t followed through to today?
used for serving coconut balls
The weeks leading upto Diwali were always exciting. I used to come home from school to the aromas of mum cooking nasto. The weekend was all about getting the house tidy and helping mum in the kitchen frying or mixing yet another dish. I used to love visiting family just so I could taste their versions of different sweets and nasto.. And here we are today in a health conscious world, where our choice of food intake is governed by health issues, allergies and westernised taste buds. What was your favourite dish growing up?
serving homemade ladoos
I've always been creative. Especially during Diwali as I could go crazy with decorating the house with rangoli patterns, brightly coloured material (normally picked from my mum’s sari collection), displaying all of the Diwali cards in a geometric pattern on the wall and even creating my own hand made Diwali cards using beads, glitter and Ganesh motifs. As much as time has changed, we never forget that Diwali is the festival of light. Candles burn in thousands of homes celebrating the festive occasion but it was once merely a simple white tealight which you could pick up a pack of 100 from places like VB & Sons or IKEA for as little as a £1. Look at the variety we have on offer now. Floating, scented, personalised, coloured, hand decorated. The list is endless.
The simplest and best gift when I was a young girl was money. 'Make sure you don't buy too many sweets' is what I used to get told when I’d be given a few pound coins in my hand which I had to hide from my mum before she'd tell me to give it back! The great thing about being the youngest child was the look of jealousy on my siblings faces as I used to get all the gifts when visiting family at Diwali.
Times have moved on since then. There seems to be more excitement in giving gifts to family members which can be anything from a box of mithai to money in an envelope. For those who are newly married, more effort is made as couples buy gifts for their in-laws or in-laws gift a nice sari to their new daughter in-law. Diwali is always a very busy period for Black Qubd as we have many customers buying endless gifts for their loved ones.