I have noticed that I have never blogged the meaning and customs of Deepavali followed in my place (Tamil Nadu). I grew up eating only non vegetarian food on Deepavali Day. Want to know why and surprised stick to the narration or skip to my guilt free sweet.
Deepavali is the celebration to commemorate Lord Krisna's Victory over the Demon NaraKasura(n)
Here the short story about Narakasura :
Narakasura , a demon was frightening the world including Devas (God and Godess). He abducted many beautiful women, looted and finally stole the earring of Devi (Athiti was the mother of God). Devas complained to Lord Vishnu. Furious, Maha Vishnu ordered Lord Krishna (8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu) who was on Earth at this time to end Narakasuran 's life. After a long battle, Krishna and his wife Satyabhama defeated the demon Narakasuran. People rejoiced the victory and gave a warm welcome to Lord Krishna's return. The day is celebrated as NarakaChadurthi and Deepavali for Tamilian. Krishna returned at dawn before a new moon day ( of karthikai Month) and took bath with an oil massage (which is a custom in Tamilian home on Deepavali day) and started celebrating the victory with people.
The new moon day of Karthikai Month (Hindu Calendar) marked as Diwali, the day before is Tamilian Deepavali or Narakachadurthi (when Krishna returned home after victory).
On Deepavali day, at dawn everyone takes oil bath first, burst some crackers (significance of Lord Krishna in the battle field with the evil). We devote sweets and snacks to God. But Non-Vegetarian food remains the main subject on this particular festival day. We wear a new dress and visit family and friends to distribute sweets. Finally, we settled down to watch all the TV program :) Well that is the way of celebrating Deepavali in Tamil Nadu .
The next day which is the new moon day (amavasai or Diwali in many part of India), Each community/family has his own custom of Nombu (Pooja/Vrath). The elderly person (women) of the family wakes up early, takes bath and starts making sweets which is prepared that day: Athirasam (pounded rice flour & jaggery syrup mixed together and deep fried). An odd number (11,21 or 101) of sweet is arranged in a new clay pot decorated with turmeric and kukum (red color dots) odd number of dots are decorated and taken to the nearest temple. The whole family fasts until the offer is completed. After returning home, every member are tied with a colorful thread (color depends of family) in hands. The sweet and other preparation on this nombu day are not shared with anyone outside of the family members. This day, only a vegetarian meal is served.
Some family (Tamilian) hold a Deepavali Nombu, I have no idea why, the day before Amavasai, they eat only vegetarian meal and follow the same sweet / odd number offering to God.
This year, New moon (Amavasai Nombu) and Deepavali is celebrated on same day which falls on Wednesday 26 th of October 2011- mostly everyone prepares a vegetarian feast.
In my home, my parents never had a nombu, my mom was out of the country after her wedding. My granny never passed down the custom to her. Living far from home, one of the drawback is loosing our customs. Many Tamilian in US, cannot follow exactly the custom of making sweets and taking later to temple the same day. They just substitute with fruits as offering!
After wedding, as I have to follow my husband custom. Deepavali was just an vegetarian affair for them and no nombu.
However, Diwali is a Fun Filled celebration for Hindus around the world, the spirit remains the same: distributing sweets, bursting firecrackers and lighting a clay diyas symbolizing the victory over evil.
A guilt and sugar free sweet to celebrate this Deepavali!
Dates and Nuts roll
Recipe adapted here
Pitted Dates: 1 1/2 cups- diced
Almond: 1/2 cup- roughly chopped
Unsalted and shelled Pistachios: 1/2 cup-roughly chopped
Ghee or butter: 1 tsp
Silver foil or shredded coconut or roasted poppy seeds/sesame seeds
Roast the nuts and chop them roughly (don't be lazy like me to leave as a big chunk).
Heat the butter/ghee in medium low flame, add the dates and mash with a back of spoon the dates. It is pretty fast done under 5 minutes.
Switch off the stove and mix the nuts with dates puree.
Let it cool a bit and form a log.
Decorate with whatever u have in availability. Roll in shredded coconut or seeds or cover with silver foil for a festive look!
Wrap with foil and refrigerate an hour or longer.
Take out a slice the log 1/2 inch wide.
A perfect afternoon snack, as it is a sugar free could be a great diabetic friendly! But stop with one slice a day!
Have a Fun and safe Diwali!