Lighting up hearts: My Diwali expertise with a household in India | Intrepid Travel Blog

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On her first journey to India, Liisa Ladouceur skilled the true spirit of Diwali due to an Indian household who welcomed her into their house.

I admit – considerably sheepishly – that I didn’t know all that a lot about Diwali earlier than my Women’s Expedition with Intrepid. As a traveller in India for the primary time, I had no thought what to anticipate. 

India is a magic place to go to any time of yr, however Diwali is one thing else. I discovered everybody to be in a brilliant temper. Streets sparkled with strings of lights, fireworks lit up the sky with color, and markets had been crammed with mouth-watering sweets, orange marigold garlands, large stalks of contemporary sugar cane, and piles of small clay pots referred to as diyas. Our journey chief, Anjali, defined that this conventional oil lamp gave Diwali its namesake. 

Celebrated in India and several other nations all through the world, Diwali is noticed by greater than a billion folks of Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist faiths. This five-day competition marks the start of a brand new yr and celebrates the triumph of fine over evil and light-weight over darkness.  

As our group travelled round Rajasthan – a area famend for its palaces, maharajas and festivals – within the days main as much as the competition’s most important occasion, we had the chance to find out about varied Diwali traditions.

We bought to assist create a rangoli, an intricate ornament made with colored sand to adorn the ground of an entranceway. It was a delight to study from some younger Indian ladies who drew a fairly peacock design for us to fill in – even when it did take a look at my hip flexibility and artwork abilities. We had been additionally handled to a session with a henna artist, who painted our palms in lovely designs. 

a group of travellers creating a rangoli

I realized that in addition to a celebration of lights, this competition is a time of religion, household and feasts. Behind the scenes, households put together for Diwali by cleansing their houses and shopping for new garments and jewelry. 

I didn’t simply expertise the competition of lights on the streets. My most memorable expertise was celebrating Diwali with an Indian household of their house. I got here away with a deeper understanding of Diwali and the tradition and spirit of the nation’s folks. 

Food is a severe enterprise for the senses in India. Tasting new dishes was excessive on my checklist of causes for visiting this nation. I used to be excited that our itinerary included a cooking demonstration the place we’d study recipes from an area chef of their house and luxuriate in a vegetarian meal collectively. 

Having witnessed how a lot preparation goes into Diwali and the significance of being with family members throughout this competition, it was so beneficiant of this household to welcome us into their house. Not for the primary time on this journey, I used to be reminded that hospitality is an element and parcel of life in India. 

Our hosts, Divyashree and Saurabh, greeted us with a tilak: a small marking on the brow made with pink paste and grains of rice that has many significances within the nation, together with a greeting for company. We supplied them sweets. 

Immediately, we might really feel Diwali throughout us. Our hosts had embellished their yard with strings of white, purple and inexperienced lights, and the complete neighbourhood gave the impression to be setting off firecrackers.  

Not for the primary time on this journey, I used to be reminded that hospitality is an element and parcel of life in India. 

Divyashree defined their household are Pushkarna Brahmin and observe a vegetarian weight loss program that doesn’t embrace any onion or garlic. So, for our meal, we’d be studying how you can cook dinner conventional Brahmin dishes with spices and substances that could be new to us. 

I used to be launched to asafoetida, a pungent substitute for onion. A fruity mango powder referred to as amchoor. Kalonji, that are black nigella seeds. And chaat masala, which is a medley of spices that our hosts advised me you’ll be able to eat with every thing. I later picked up some chaat masala on the market to see for myself as soon as I returned house, and it’s true. 

During the lesson, we had been invited to roll up our sleeves to assist fry pakora dumplings and roll the dough for poori – a fried bread that puffs up right into a ball when positioned into sizzling oil. It was plenty of enjoyable to observe. 

While our group was targeted on the meals, extra members of the family arrived, bearing sweets and trays of burning diyas. Anjali advised us this was the true spirit of Diwali. Saurabh invited us to affix the household in taking a diya across the yard. ‘Wherever there is dark, put a light,’ he mentioned.  

Surrounded by the glow of sunshine and the heat of our hosts, we had been seated to get pleasure from our Diwali dinner. The couple ready a silver thali plate for everybody with mouth-watering dishes like mango launii, bharwa bhindi and jeera aloo. It was by far essentially the most scrumptious meal we had through the journey. Divyashree even gifted her recipes to us in a booklet to take house.

As a lot as I loved making and consuming the meals, the enjoyment of our night got here from the corporate and dialog. It got here from the household who welcomed us into their house, the journey companions who had grow to be my new buddies and Anjali, who was so beneficiant with answering our questions on Diwali. I wish to return to India, however this felt like a once-in-a-lifetime expertise, and I’m grateful to everybody who made it particular. 

With fireworks popping throughout me, I left our Diwali dinner feeling full in my stomach and my coronary heart.  

Liisa travelled with Intrepid on the India Women’s Expedition. These journeys provide immersive native experiences for ladies which might be ordinarily off limits on our common group departures. If you’d additionally prefer to expertise India throughout Diwali, search our India journeys for corresponding dates.

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