India is a melting pot of multicultural celebrations that being in October and continue through the New Year. As India was once a British colony, some of the traditions celebrated today stem from English culture, as well as from the Dutch.
One of the biggest celebrations everyone enjoys is Diwali or Dipawali. It is the one of the most important Indian holidays of the entire year. While it is primarily a Hindi holiday, people from all religions partake in the celebrations, whether they are Christian, Buddhists, Jains, or Sikhs.
Like other Indian celebrations, there are bright colours and lights to mark the occasion, which runs for five days. The celebration start date changes each year and is either in October or November. Plus, depending on where one lives in India, the official starting date varies sometimes by a few days to several weeks.
The celebration involves decorating the home with candles set in clay pots or using clay lamps. Families also use coloured sand to create Rangoli art, which are bright coloured patterns created on the floor during the celebration.
On the third day, families gather together for prayers during Lakshmi puja. Afterwards is when everyone gets together to celebrate with food, large feasts, and fireworks. On the fourth day of Diwali, families visit friends, relatives and their neighbours and bring gifts, often different types of foods, treats, and snacks, as they wish them well for the coming year.
On the last day of the celebration, brothers will visit their married sisters. Their sisters welcome them into their homes and prepare and feed them an extravagant meal. Diwali is normally the start of the holiday season celebrations in India.
India also has a considerable Christian population, so Christmas is also a favourite holiday. Just like other celebrations, there are bright colours and lights to mark the holiday. Families will hand-make decorations and ornaments in all different sizes, shapes, and colours. You can never have enough lights in multiple colours too! Many families will also put up a Christmas tree and decorate their entire homes inside and out.
Food is a major part of holiday celebrations in India and Christmas is no exception. Treats shared and enjoyed include kidiyo, deep fried curled dough covered with icing sugar, and kuswar, which can include rose cookies and fruitcakes. Sweet dumplings are also a favourite and are stuffed with coconut and palm sugar, along with sesame seeds.
Christmas Eve dinners and Christmas Day lunches are marked by chicken curries, Durka Mass, which is a pork curry, Biryani made with lamb or chicken, and Sannas, which are steamed rice cakes. On Christmas Day families venture out to visit friends and neighbors and bring them treats and food as gifts.
As you can see food is a central part of the holiday season in India. If you would like to experience some of the flavourful holiday foods eaten in India during the holidays, please feel free to visit Mayura Inspired Indian Dining or contact us at (905) 451-6161- to make a reservation or inquire about our private dining options.