We rarely keep track of festivals. However, some festivals will find you even if you don’t go looking for them. Everything in stores will be covered with specific colours, bows, or in glitter. And there’s the deluge of “offers” in the mailbox. Mothers’ Day is when you go cross-eyed with all the ghastly pink stuff in every aisle. (Does someone really think that once a woman becomes a mother she renounces all other colours?)

And there are the hearts for Valentine’s Day.

In grade 8 biology class I learnt that human hearts are fist-shaped. Only frogs’ hearts are heart shaped. So why do these marketing folks keep putting hearts on everything? Do they lead schizophrenic lives alternating as frogs? Or did they just skip biology classes?

Coming back to Diwali, our barometer to sense an approaching Indian festival is the Indian store. Clay lamps in the aisle herald Diwali.

Blogging has changed all that. For weeks now, we’re been sensing that Diwali is around the corner. Three days ago, J decided, “Today is Diwali”.

I never liked Diwali as a kid. I was terrified of firecrackers, and couldn’t wait for the noise pollution to subside. :notlisten I used to keep my window locked at all times, for the week before Diwali, afraid that my curtains would catch fire.

One year, a week before Diwali, one of my neighbours’ curtains on the third storey caught fire from a shooting firecracker, and he was out of town. By the time they broke into his apartment and doused the fire, a lot of his furniture had been destroyed.

When he returned, he was told, “It happens, you just got unlucky.” He was not compensated by the parents of the kid who did it, and the kid (around ten years old) was still out everyday with his friends, setting off rockets in narrow alleyways between high-rise buildings, and waking up people at 4.30 a.m. with a string of crackers that went on deafeningly for 3 whole minutes.

My mom, being Keralite, celebrated just Onam and Vishu. Celebrated, as in, “Today is Onam, I made some pradhaman.” or “Today is Vishu, here’s some money, get yourself what you want.” That’s it.

She did make some sweets and savouries for Diwali, but it was out of obligation. We got goodies from the neighbours, and didnt want to return their bowls empty. My dad, like me, was festival-immune.

I associated Diwali with noise and pollution, Ganesh Chaturthi with traffic jams and and Navratri with nine nights of loudspeaker hell when I was preparing for my mid-term exams. The one festival I hated with a passion was Holi.

For 15 days before Holi, you couldn’t walk on the street or go anywhere without someone trying to douse you with colored water or something foul, especially if you were female. Good luck if you had to hang out of a crowded local train for the week before Holi.

As an adult, I had people (some not even related to me) tell me that “you should atleast light a lamp for Diwali”, with the sanctimonious “you just don’t get it” tone. They take it upon themselves to educate everyone around them about ‘tradition’ – their own tradition, not mine.

Well, there are whole communities in India that don’t celebrate Diwali, even if they are Hindus. My mom, who grew up in Kerala, had no clue what this festival was until she moved out of Kerala.

And there are some people like myself, who have heard of Diwali, and seen it celebrated, but “just don’t get it”. Really.

I couldn’t “get” why people had to celebrate in public and couldn’t confine their festivities to inside their homes or within spaces where others were not inconvenienced. I still don’t. And I don’t get why it should bother some folks if others don’t follow their ‘traditions’. As far as I am concerned, each person creates his or her own traditions.

I guess it’s a control thing. It makes some people feel powerful to bully others. Throwing coloured water or a stone at a stranger, holding up traffic to take a procession through the streets (if someone has a heart attack and needs an ambulance, good luck), waking people up at 4 a.m. on a working day – all in the guise of “celebration”. It makes someone feel in control if they ask others to light lamps for Diwali.

Outside India, I began to actually like and enjoy Diwali, since people celebrate it quietly and joyously indoors. The same people whose kids recklessly set off firecrackers in India wouldn’t DARE move on as if nothing happened in the event of an accident in any other country.

Now, I’m beginning to “get” what Diwali is about. I’m beginning to see how the Festival of Lights need not always be accompanied by noise and callousness, and I’m glad it’s not what it was when I was growing up in Bombay. I’m beginning to discover how these festivals can be celebrated in a sane and respectful manner.

But I don’t celebrate them myself.

The way I see it, festivals simply mean more work for the woman of the house. Let’s do a cost-benefit analysis here.

This is strictly based on my observations. In the days preceding the festival, she goes shopping for all the ingredients, buys everything (or most of the things), cooks elaborate meals and snacks, performs most of the religious rituals associated with the festival.

Men do maybe 10-20% of the work involved in organising a festival celebration in the home. And then everyone can claim that they are “upholding tradition”. This is an incentive structure that doesn’t make sense. If most women in most households let festivals pass by without acknowledging them, they don’t get acknowledged. Often, women get flak for not “upholding tradition” and need to explain why they don’t, but if you’re a man, you’ve got it set.

Don’t even get me started about following “your husband’s tradition”. My mom got flak for not following my dad’s family traditions, but no one badgered my dad about following her traditions, or even his own.

So people expect a woman to do 80% of the work to claim she upheld a ‘tradition’? What if she’s not familar with it or not interested in it?

Does she constantly have to Justify? Argue? Defend? Explain??

To heck with that.

Early on, I had relatives and strangers sounding all concerned, but struggling to hide the condescension: “But isn’t J a Tamilian? Don’t you celebrate a, b or c?”

The fact is it doesn’t matter where he’s from. HE is distinct from ME. He also doesn’t happen to give a rat’s patootie about a, b or c. I will pour myself a margarita, and that’s good enough a celebration for me. Some people think I’m betraying my ‘heritage’. Well, I’m not losing sleep over it. And no, my childhood was not traumatic because my parents didn’t uphold the ‘heritage’ according to the culture police’s specifications.

J, unlike moi, grew up celebrating everything under the sun. Celebrating, as in the whole nine yards – the religious rituals and the whole array of festival foods. Now, if he wants to celebrate, I will celebrate with him. (Not for him) If not, it’s not my problem.

Well, actually, let me rephrase that. If J wants to celebrate, OR if there’s an event in the blogsphere, I may acknowledge a festival. :horn:

So three days ago, thinking it was Diwali, and because J was crazy busy and there was the event to think of, I made cashew brittles. To understand how a blogger’s mind works, refer to this.

Then the day before yesterday, I was informed that “Diwali is tomorrow”. Well, it doesn’t matter. We enjoyed them and I’m sending this to Vee.

My first attempt at caramel ended up in lumpy sugar crystals. On my second attempt, I added 2 tablespoons of water and kept stirring. The crystals formed and most of them melted back down.

We used raw cane (turbinado) sugar. Jaggery works equally well. We like a lot of nuts barely held together with sugar – equal parts of each. Increase the amount of sugar if you wish.



1.25 cups of broken cashews
1.25 cups of sugar (we used raw cane sugar)
a pinch of salt
a pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp of rose water
2 tsps oil to grease baking sheet and rolling pin


1. Toast broken cashews until very light brown. (This can be done in the microwave.)

2. Grease the back of a baking sheet and a rolling pin with oil.

3. Melt the sugar in a pan to make caramel.
Here’s a step-by-step demo. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to get the crystals from the side of the pan back at the bottom, and keep stirring the sugar until light amber. Using 2 tablespoons of water may help prevent the sugar from burning in the initial stages. We also added the rose water, salt and saffron when the sugar melted.

4. Add the nuts to the sugar when it turns ino an amber liquid, then quickly mix once and put the mixture on the greased baking sheet. Wear long gloves, ‘cos the sugar mixture will be scalding hot. Spread it out with a rolling pin and let it cool.

5. Score and cut into diamonds.

Cashew Brittle (and Diwali B!tchfest) is our entry for Jihva for Ingredients: Special Edition hosted by dear Vee of Past, Present and Me.

We wish those of you who celebrate Diwali a wonderful festive season.

- Bee (and Jai)

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  1. Altoid says:

    Bee, you be my soulmate! I never liked Diwali and all the noise either. And I certainly dont know anything about what needs to be done for any festival. So when people declare its x, y or z on a particular day, I tell them happy x, y or z and move on. Always amazes them, this nonchalance of mine :D .

    But Diwali, I do like the concept of lighting diyas specially since it comes at fall time. Gets darker sooner. I like the rangolis and trying out new snacks and sweets. But I never have any religious associations for Diwali or any festival for that matter. My mother(parents) are religious, I am just God-fearing.

    Hugs! And happy Diwali!

  2. Suganya says:

    Lets say that all these festivals were celebrated with a purpose and the purpose was *lost* in time. Diwali was celebrated by the farming community during the rainy season to keep rats and insects away from their granary. Scaring rodents with sound and other insects with smoke. A family, back ten, would have lit may be 10 crackers, at the max, and lighted lamps to keep the cold away. And Diwali today is about 10,000 walas and rockets. Smartly marketed by business minded people, the more the better. I believe festivities are more about togetherness than calorie laden sweets and savouries. But then, its one’s personal preference. Shubha Deepavali.

  3. sra says:

    Aah Bee, my reaction to this is so similar and involved it would make for a post on its own. Even my family has a v simple approach to festivities – new clothes sometimes, gaarelu (vadas) and payasam. A small prayer, often personal and individual.
    If you know any Telugus from the coastal side of AP visiting India, ask them to get you some ‘Jeedipappu paakam’ – it’s to die for and addictive. There’s a not-so-good sample of it on my blog, the picture, I mean, but you’ll get an idea.

  4. TBC says:

    I love this post! Everything you have written applies to me too. Growing up, no festival (except maybe Onam, Vishu to some extent) was a big deal in my house. Like your dad, mine too was festival-immune and never understood what all the fuss was about. :o hno: I guess that spirit/lack of it, rubbed off on the rest of the family though my mom tried very hard to create some sort of a festive atmosphere. Oh the poor thing!:laugh:
    It is only now that I’ve moved away from home that I’m starting to understand and appreciate everything. But I still don’t do anything special and my husband couldn’t care less :tongue:…it’s just like any other day.
    I’ve taken up enough of your space here.
    Happy Diwali anyway! ;) :)

  5. Vee says:

    Aw, Bee. Just for me (or my event)? Aww, very touched and all that.

    My ‘Diwali in Bombay’ experience is the same as yours except that I started missing it once I came here :no: ! I do, I actually miss the noise and the rockets (the most horrible cracker ever invented), the smoke, the polluted air every bit of it. In fact, this year I am in major depression from missing them. The more I read your post, the more I am missing it :cry:

    A very happy non-diwali to you, but lots of warm festive greetings!

    I wanna go home.

    :cry: :cry:

  6. rina says:

    A beautiful replacement for peanut brittle. Love the picture of the diyas bee. :yes:

  7. Rajitha says:

    you know it is nice to know that there are many who think like the way i have…though at my place we celebrated all the festivals and my parents are super religious..i am glad they have never imposed it on us. I never understood why people would burst crackers when they were very well aware that little children made them in pathetic conditions..and the irony is people go around distributing sweets and clothes to the poor, coz in their minds they are getting brownie points from god…i feel all these festival are about me me and me..i want to eat, i want new clothes blah blah and about holi!! less said the better..it is a festival where many men can disguise their inner lust by spraying color on you and saying holi hai..how come they never spray an older woman?? it is always a young lady..i am glad that some men of our generation do not care if their wife adopts to his family ways..i for one do not, as for me my family way is comfortable and comes easy to me and there is nothing wrong with it…and oh yeah! happy diwali bee and jai :)

  8. kribha says:

    I hate crackers too. But I loved diwali for the new dresses and sweets. While all the kids enjoyed diwali with crackers I used to think…who the heck invented this. Cashew brittle looks perfect.

  9. shilpa says:

    I completely agree with Vee…Now that I am away from India, I am terribly missing everything…I am in a no-diwali mood(except for cooking). I am not even feeling like celebrating…Few days ago when I saw the Halloween lights, I thought I shd have been in India, I miss the crackers smell…the lighting etc etc…

    About people giving lectures about what we should do….I completely agree with you Bee…I feel like I would jump out of my skin. I don’t like to do something because “I have to” I do it only when “I like to” do it. I don’t go and give lectures to others what they shd do or should not and I don’t expect anyone to lecture me…
    I hate holi too…In bangalore, its a way for guys to torture girls. Just before we came to US, I was driving my scooty and beside me hubby was driving his bike. There was a big group playing holi(all guys), they didn’t throw color on hubby but when I drove past, they threw color on me. Since I have a allergy for color, my skin started burning…hell…I hate it..

  10. Asha says:

    I loved Diwali at my Belur grandmother’s place although I hid in the kitchen most of the time when my 8 uncles had fun with exploding “bombs”, bigger the better! We had atleast 50 people at home usually for Deepavali and Shivaratri.
    My parents home? They never did fuss about festivals! Arvind is ALMOST an atheist(he does come to temple if I insist and then I feel out of place in the temples bcos I have no idea how to interact there with Poojaris!)I would gladly take them around the temple showing the “Gods” and architecture explaining each of them.It’s more fun, feels good too.
    Still I take my kids to temples anyway just so that they know and I make festivals special at home by cooking (which I love) just for them too! Somebody has to get them used to “Hindu” (d with D as kids say, not DHU!) way of life!:D
    I don’t miss the noise though, love the joyous feeling I get when I think of my childhood!:)
    Have a great weekend, love the Mithai!

  11. aa says:

    Aah! Bee and everyone else who agreed with this post! I’m not trying to be the bully here…but gee! you people let all the bad ones ruin it for you!! You completely missed the point….
    Its the spirit of the thing…I see Diwali as that time of year when somehow your confidence is reinforced in the ability of the good to persist, its a chance to step outside your personality and experience emotions you would not usually (vatsalya in rocking a baby krishna, or sisterhood with the mighty durga?)
    If someone’s way of celebrating the festival gets to you perhaps you can be the bully to change how they celebrate it? no? :D (you being the generic you, not the specific you)

    As far as cost benefit analyses go…how can you carry out a rational one, if the benefits are realised only after you pay the costs? The benefits, in my opinion are seem different before and after the deed has been done.

    In any case, thats my 2p worth…wish you a happy everyday, not just diwali :)

    i agree it’s the ‘spirit’ of the thing. that’s why i don’t visit india during diwali and dussehra season. it ruins my ‘spirit’. :D i don’t mind being around when they are celebrated outside india.

    oh, we don’t have to bully anyone to change how they celebrate it. by not celebrating it, they think we are bullying them – they love to feel victimised by the fact that we don’t follow their ‘tradition’. one person actually told me she was offended when i told her i don’t follow her religion or traditions. she had decided to ‘teach’ me how it’s done. poor thing. lol. – b.

  12. Latha says:

    I agree and disagree Bee! I really miss all the festivities.. I miss all the noise and the fireworks. Growing up it was so much fun lighting allt hose fireworks with cousins and friends. I really miss that and the memories and miss that for my kids. (even though Diya is terrified of fireworks!). I miss the togertherness, the good food, going to the temple together, the late night antaksharis at our house and much more.
    But i understand, to each his own. No one should ever force any tradition or any opinion on anyone! That’s just wrong.
    I try to do some of this stuff just so that my kids can get to eat the good food and experience some of this just like i did. Because i dont make or do anything remotely liek this teh rest of the year! Even this year it has been pretty scaled down.. me and K are on a calorie check :-)
    And u know what – i hear u on one more thing – lats night i cooked this elaborate meal, made some goodies, did the nalangu (oil) thing for the kids etc. and then our man comes home and says “Oh its Diwali today?” I just almost kicked his butt right there!

    Anyways,, u’re thinking like a true American, celebration is kick back, relax and have a drink. Oh dont forget to take some aspirin before u sleep so u dont get up with a hangover!

  13. mandira says:

    Festive greeting to you and Jai. Like you, I keep track of the festivals through blogs nowadays :)

  14. richa says:

    diwali greetings to you and your family!

  15. padmaja says:

    Bee what a lovely post!!! I love reading yours specially because you make think, till then u don’t even give a small inkling toward anything till you raise it!!! Is it not amazing!!!
    Love those cashew sweets!!!and btw

  16. Eskay says:

    Bee, I cant help but agree with you. Dont be surprised if I confess that this is first time I ever prepared anything for ‘Diwali’. Its always been “yet another weekend” for us…for my husband its still the same…though Diwali is listed high on the list of Konkani traditions. To me the blog world has become a sort of a “pachang” ( traditional calender) and my encyclopedia. I’ve gotten to know so much on so many festivals/traditions that are and not a part of what I call ‘tradition’. Its amazing to see and know the efforts that so many put in to explain in detail so many things about each festival and the things associated. Way to go folks! I am really impressed by the extent of each individual’s creativity. As a change from the ‘regular me’, I decided to have some fun experimenting in my own kitchen and enjoy it as my own way of celebrating Diwali. There’s never a good or bad time to wish well for another and for good eats! Happy Eating!

  17. padmaja says:

    Sorry i was about to mention your gift!! YOU KNOW WHAT, today after a dreadful day at work, talking about harmonisation and wastage at our meeting, our company wants everyone to work 40hrs but was given 3 options( still breaking my head)so came home drained and there it was a cute little parcel on my door step and I instantly knew it. YOUR “COMPLETE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY” and a “SWEET NOTE”.
    I am overwhelmed Bee and Jai, thank you!!!!

  18. Gwori says:

    Say what you may. I love all these festivals. It is not just in Indian families where the woman of the house is the main person who slogs during fesivals. You see any American household during Christmas and Thanksgiving, it is the women who do all the cooking, decorating etc and you see them stressed. At least that is what I have seen here in Texas.

    I feel someone in the family has to show enthusiasm and interest and do these things. If the husband participates at every step, even better. But, if you dont celebrate any festivals, then life becomes very dull.

    All cultures in the world follow some traditions and celebrations. But, I do not understand why it is just Indians who think it is condescending or below their dignity to follow traditions.

    i don’t think Indians think it’s below their dignity to follow traditions. some Indians like to create their own traditions and follow only those that make sense to them. – b.

  19. sia says:

    wohoo… sorry, i can’t comment.. and yeah, i read, re-read but still cant think now :secret:
    wish you both a very happy diwali (even if u r not celebrating;) he he he… ;;)

  20. Rachna says:

    bee will you come and celebrate diwali with me….? :D

    if you cater, yes. if you’re gonna slog for seven hours, no. :D – b.

  21. vineela says:

    Hi BEE ,
    Wish you a very happy deepavali to you and your family.

  22. sreelu says:

    B&J, though I agree on most of your views,this I must say I differ,festivals bring people together, we cousins would a fight to see whose crakers were the loudest and who burnt crakers till the end and then there were freindly neighbour hood competions on crakers. All these are happy memories I will cherish for the rest of my life, now all of our cousins are spread out around the world but those sounds of crakers,smell of burnt bombs evokes some good times. and regarding women cooking and slogging its not just for festivals they slog everyday may be few hrs more on festivals, but the traditions they create with it is worth all that effort.I still remember my grandmother who is ailing now getting up early in the morning to make dahi wada on pongal day so that it would juicy by the time we eat for brunch. now I am not sure she can cook or I get a chance to eat again but the event and her care for cooking is plastered in my mind for ever. and regarding perverts who spray stuff for holi etc its their mind set if its not holi then its the bus or the train to show their idiotic acts. some people never grow up and we can’t help and this should not allow us to stop us from enjoying either a festival or a tradition.
    I think I wrote too much ,wishing you peace and happiness this festive season :)

    wish you a wonderful diwali, sreelu. if your grandmom wanted to make dahi vada for her family on pongal, more power to her. :) but, i’m done with people who want to know what i did and didn’t do for pongal. none of their business, really. and you won’t believe how many such ‘concerned’ people there are. – b.

  23. Caregiver says:

    Bee & Jai
    Wanted to let you guys know that the tumor was benign. Its the preliminary report – the final pathology is yet to come but boy what a relief.

    I think of all the lesser previliged who dont get such good news with the pathology report.

    Very traumatic time. But I am happy that it is passing. Job is to motivate hubby now to run a marathon for cure for cancer.

    thanks for your thoughts !!

    this is wonderful wonderful news. thanks for the update. – bee

  24. Manisha says:

    I love the Bee that rants! And how everyone comes out of the woodwork to agree!

    And, yes to the question that once a woman becomes a mother she renounces all other colors. We alternated between pink and purple till I believed that no other colors existed. Now we’re on blue, which is such a nice change but then did you know that girls can’t wear blue?! Gimme black and red!

    I used to hate Navratri with a vengeance. Through the day, old women would holler tuneless bhajans in cracked voices through a microphone and then they would dance through the night. I always had exams at this time. I’ve called the police on them several times when they went past the midnight deadline cos I couldn’t bear it anymore. I was young and I might do things differently today.

    We stopped buying firecrackers and were immediately dissed for our actions. We didn’t indulge them in for several reasons: it added to our broncho-spasms, the pollution in the air as well as noise. It was our decision and we didn’t impose it on anyone so why was everyone getting worked up?! But they took it as a judgement on how they celebrated. That we were in some way trying to prove that we were better than them.

    Our celebrations remain simple and we enjoy them immensely. It used to be a huge family time for us. There was one bhau-bhij for which there were 5 generations of the family crammed into a 2 bedroom flat, over 60 people. The cacophony that ensued drowned the fireworks outside! That’s not going to happen again any time soon. And that is what I miss.

    It also has to do with having children. I want my daughter to know whatever little I do. She loves the flurry of activity and the nuggets she gets from our past. She gets to taste some of the goodies that she never would otherwise. It’s part of passing down the cultural heritage, whatever little we know of it.

    And you are a force in spreading that heritage, culture police or not. Because your blog is the one that lights up the most for any given festival. I don’t think I have seen so much info about festivities, tradition or culture anywhere else. A tad paradoxical but then that’s what we all are – paradoxes.

    Do of it or with it what you will. Celebrate it or not. How you do it and with what angle you approach it is entirely up to you. And it can be a lot of fun! Rant on!

    thank you, my friend. you said it way better than i could have, and much more succinctly. and we’re flattered and honoured to learn that our blog explains and perpetuates some traditions. we didn’t plan it to be that way, and didn’t notice that we do it, but it’s something we would love to do. – b.

  25. Namratha says:

    I totally understand what you mean Bee, why don’t some of them just let us be!! I’m more or less like J, having celebrated all the festivals with much fanfare, entirely opp here though And worse, my hubby’s side doesn’t celebrate half the festivals (that’s another long story why they don’t! ) so I don’t get to either…whether I want to or not….hmph, that’s life!

  26. Sig says:

    Great post Bee! I am so glad I grew up in Kerala, where people don’t go overboard with any festivities. I am also glad that I am married to a guy who doesn’t care about the festivals, even though he grew up in a family that goes all out celebrating all occasions. I love the idea of kicking back with a cold one to celebrate all holidays, except if it is Onam/Vishu, and I have people to cook with me… what can I say, I just LOVE the sadya… :)

  27. Sandeepa says:

    I love festivals without any rhyme or reason. Of course as long as this is not true
    “festivals simply mean more work for the woman of the house”
    and “there is no fasting”

    However I love celebrating and I do feel the need to introduce my daughter to traditions so that later when she decides to choose she at least knows what she is rejecting or accepting. Yes and carving out your own traditions is all the more sweeter.

  28. Sandeepa says:

    I am confused about the structure of my second sentence, I meant “no fasting” and “no work”

  29. CW says:

    When I stopped buying/bursting crackers when I became aware of the child labour involved everyone smiled sarcastically. A friend of my dad’s even asked, ‘So u think u can change everything with this?!’ Oh well, I think people just hate change!

  30. Cynthia says:

    Wow, the responses to this post are an education and fascinating for me. Keep ranting Bee :)

  31. roopa says:

    hmm i do agree but yet i miss them ! the cashew chikkis looks excellent!

  32. Wow, a great post. thanks for sharing. I spoke to a friend the other night, who, after being with her parents all day every day for a week, helping them because her father had been in hospital, was telling me how she had to rush home and clean the whole house and put out clean and new cloths etc. We talked about the inner things that are important, and the outer things that are just symbols that are supposed to help us focus on the right things inwardly. So she went home, had a long bath, went to bed, thought her inner thoughts and had a long long sleep. Just what she needed.

  33. Keerthi says:

    Nice post Bee….I do not like the huge thousand waalas, but do enjoy lighting diyas, decorating our home and those simple sparkling crackers which are easy to handle and produce no noise…and above all Diwali for me is a festival of sweets :D ..So I enjoy Diwali in India though I do not celebrate here with the same enthu…Missing home now :cry:

    Loved your cashew brittles and the colorful light holders…

  34. Anonymous says:

    akash wants sweets. :horn: Bee n Jai this coment is from my little boy who loves cashew brittles. he typed the first line himself and added in the smiley too. We all enjoy Deepavali to the core. :)

    that’s so cute. hope you had your fill of different sweets.

  35. sia says:

    LOL bee… :rofl: i will burst cracker in mr. brown’s ears as long as u do the same with president bush, and make that two… he he he… :laugh: :devil:

  36. Happy Cook says:

    True It is a lot of work for the women in the family.
    Not to mention the cost :-)
    Happy Diwali
    Cashew Britle look freat. I love with peanuts also u know the one made with jaggery.
    When i was at home that is the one we bought always , cashewones were too expensive my mom uesd to say

  37. Nupur says:

    I completely understand this sentiment. Like you, I enjoy celebrating festivals on my own terms, as times when friends and family get together with gratitude, joy and good food. Nothing more and nothing less.

  38. indosungod says:

    Bee! you do make people think. My family was not traditional so festivals were not particularly earth shattering events, anywasy days leading upto and following Deepavali my parents were busier than usual (tending to patients with “cracker” injuries). Well I pretty much agree to what you say and your sentiments on commericialization trumphing every other aspect of the festival. But yes there is a but,
    I miss it and never realized I would miss it like I do now.
    Give anything to be there.

    Thinking back, what I miss on festival days is that, everyone was happy,atleast it seemed to me that way, exchanging, tasting sweets, we felt ourselves part of a bigger communuity which is lacking during festival times here if you can call call Thanksgiving or Christmas festivals that is, nobody smiles- more worried about cooking and buying gifts – the commerce part of it. From the outside literally standing on the street, it is as if nothing is going on if you’d give a pass to the car explosion on the street.

    Well maybe I was young and naive enough not to notice the pain it caused some people. Now I would give anything to show the kids what it feels like to celebrate a festival.

    What I am really trying to say is I love the sprit of the festivals sans the commerce.

  39. Linda says:

    Hi Bee, the cashew brittle looks great! Hope you enjoyed a lovely celebration in your own way :)

  40. Raji says:

    That was a “good” rant, Im glad Im not ranting alone on my blog!…..I never really gave much thought to the festivals while growing up and just enjoyed the new clothes and goodies.
    I lost interest in crackers when I entered my teens.It was when I started working and then got married that I really thought about why we were doing what we were doing.So, while I learnt about what my mom used to do and what MIL used to do, I finally did what I wanted and what was convenient to me! Hubby wasnt particular either and anyway it was me “doing” stuff as you so rightly pointed out, so I got to choose! So there was Bhakarwadi one year for Pongal and Puran Poli another year for another festival!

    In Chennai, since I was from Mumbai, the expectation level was very low since people would assume I was too “modern” to do anything, so when I deviated from the usual and took to making the sweets and a menu that *I* wanted for each festival, I didnt get much flak for it! :D
    I can’t imagine what I would have said to people who would have the nerve to comment on my personal life like they did yours!
    Why even this year, being in Delhi we weren’t off the day of Diwali, so I just kept it simple and had the traditional breakfast the next day when we were off. Why get stressed – arent festivals meant to be a time of celebration and time with family?
    And we didn’t participate in any crackerfest! Ah bliss! I didnt think I’d say this, but Delhi is actually much much quieter than Chennai and much better off.
    But oh the commercial gift giving business and the heights it has gone to!!
    -Sorry for the long rant this comment has become – as you can see, you seem to have touched many nerves!

  41. Mamatha says:

    As Manisha says, “I love the Bee that rants!” Not related to this post, I want to share these links with you, so you can add them to your page if you wish.


  42. nice post Bee, and the brittles does not seem to be that brittle !!..they luk real solid, and ready to be bitten….

  43. Kaykat says:

    I like how you’ve spoken your mind :)

    Am totally with you on the innate commercialization of every festival – orange and black drapes the stores weeks before Halloween, posters for turkey and turducken and comes right after, and the red and silver and green ornaments for Christmas creep in sometime in between. Ohh, I could go on!

    In spite of all that, I’ve always had strong ties to a lot of indian festivals, primarily from the family gathering and food perspective – bonding, celebration of life, living, food, relationships … which is why it irks me plenty to see folks foist their ideas and traditions in a public fashion.

    But I’m glad you went ahead and tried this recipe for Diwali – I love the idea of adding rose water, that must be really refreshing.

    Thanks for the post, Bee – love the emotions behind it, and it is always good to encounter kindred spirits!

  44. Raaga says:

    I was born on Diwali and to this day, I have not been able to tolerate the noise. I love the display fireworks, but the noisy ones I run away from… and my mom says that the place where I was born… my aunt’s hospital in Vile Parle… the building people wanted her to shut the hospital down and so would burst “atom bombs” in the area within the building… the whole building would shake and my aunt thought I may not survive the trauma.

  45. Rachel says:

    I always stayed away from the crackers during my younger days..my siblings had to literally pull me out from under my bed :D anyways now gotten used to it..but still can handle the noiseless ones only!!
    A few years back in Goa, we had a church next door..and mind you they used to burst crackers at the start and finish of their service..during the lent season…ahhh those were the freaking scary times!!!

    anyways..i make the same sweet too..the only thing is I never added rose water and saffron…

    Love the pics of the lamps!

  46. rahin says:

    Wishing both of u and ur families a very joyous Diwali, i like ur diyas, they look so cute and colorful

  47. Aparna says:

    Just came across your page. Liked the blog. I’m not sure I dare wish you Happy Diwali, even belatedly, so will just say Seasons greetings!
    Seriously though, I can understand that you needed to let off some steam. All cultures have their particular traditions and celebrations and in most cases it is the women who toil endlessly. Just the way things are round the world. Haven’t seen all that much change in this aspect considering we have made it to outer space. Just that more and more women are juggling more things in the same time, all over the world!!
    I choose to find a balance between the two. We are, largely, shaped by our upbringing. I, personally, do not like Holi, as I am not comfortable having my personal space invaded. Our festivals and traditions at home are a bit quieter. On the other hand, I do enjoy celebrating others like Diwali, Navarathri, Onam, Vishu, etc. and meeting up with family, friends, neighbours or even, occasionally spending some quiet time at home.
    Somewhere along the line, the real reason behind celebrating festivals and traditions seems to have got lost while searching for our own identities. Festivals, though originating in sometimes obscure narrative, are really social in nature.
    Diwali (and other festivals) need not be about making sweets or lighting lamps or slaving in the kitchen. It can become an occasion for being thankful and celebrating the good things in life, in whatever manner you choose.
    I am afraid I took a lot of space on your blog!!!

  48. Jeanne says:

    I can’t really add my 10 cents worth as my family have never been big on celebrating anything (except Christmas, and I think that’s because the kids insist on it!!). I love the idea behind Diwali – the concept of renewal and rebirth and light in the darkness, but like so many things it becomes commercialised and corrupted. I adore fireworks but am terrified when they are in the hands of a kid that I wouldn’t trust with a can-opener!! Leave it to the professionals…
    Brittle looks amazing! A friend of mine here brought me some jalebi on Friday in honour of Diwali – mmmmm!

  49. Smita says:

    Very thought-provoking – nicely said. God bless the b!tchfest – ‘nuf with the sugar coating!


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