You Light Up My Life

Diwali ki Shubhkamnayein (दिवाली की शुभकामनाएं)

The name “Diwali” or “Divali” is a contraction of “Deepavali” (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into “row of lamps”. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (dīpa in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one’s house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome.  Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. – Wikipedia

Throughout the fall and winter there are plenty of holidays celebrating the triumph of light over darkness. In the Celtic tradition, this idea is broken up between two holidays – Samhain (modern Halloween) and Yule Tide (Modern Christmas). It is during the time between these two holidays where the sun is resting, hiding or had died and will be resurrected. Samhain is the celebration of death – death of crops, the slaughter of animals, the decent of darkness. Yule marks the return of the god or goddess with the lighting of fires.

The Yule log, traditionally made of oak is a fertility symbol. Three holes are bored into it and filled with three candles (traditionally white, black and red representing the Triple Goddess). This represents the reunion of the Goddess and God who have been separated since Samhain. Later the celebration of Yule incorporated the honoring of the Celtic hero Finn MacCool by telling stories of his adventures.

So, I have  been contemplating these different traditions and I have decided that the days between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solicited are the temporal realm of myth. Sure we have our Easters, our Holi’s, our mid-summer fests, but they are nothing compared with the darkly mysterious, deep, mythic holidays we have traditionally celebrated by firelight for thousands of years.

Here are my recommendations to add to your celebrations for Samhain-Diwali-Yule:

Forget The Night Before Christmas – go with readings from William Butler Yeats, Marie de France’s Lanval, James Joyce,  Athenaeus of Naucratis, the Upanishads or Omar Khayyám. But if you are feeling particularly disgusted with organized religion, as I often do, you should read this:

Forget the the Turkey – if you are a meat eater, be real, go with lamb. If you are veg, be grateful and have lost of sweets for a day.

Forget the tree – candles, fireplaces, bonfires and firecrackers are where it’s at.

Try not to forget the symbolic and mythic commonalities of all of these holidays, that of peace. Forget about Jesus, or Rama or Freyr and remember your neighbor and your friends.

Regardless of the mythological explanation one prefers, what the festival of lights really stands for today is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple – and some not so simple – joys of life.  – Times of India editorial

Loi Kratong the ‘Thai Festival of lights’

Maida Burfis (from
Total Preparation Time – 20 minutes 

  1. Maida / All purpose flour – 1 cup (100 grams)
  2. Milk powder – ¾ cup (75 grams)
  3. Sugar – 1½ cup (150 grams)
  4. Cardamom pods – 6 (or) Cardamom powder – 1/4 spoon
  5. Chopped cashews – 3 spoons (Optional)
  6. Saffron strands -Few (Optional)
  7. Ghee / Clarified butter – 15 spoons
  8. Food color – 2 pinches (I used orange red color)


  • Place a pan on flame and add 5 spoons of ghee to it, then add maida (all purpose flour) and roast on low flame until you get a nice aroma.
  • Then remove from flame and add the milk powder (I used Amulya dairy whitener) mix well and set aside.
  • Now take a pan and add sugar, cardamom pods or cardamom powder and 1½ cups of water (150 ml or until the sugar gets immersed well) and place on flame.
  • Stir well until the syrup turns sticky and you get a single string consistency. (To check a single string consistency take a ladle of the sugar syrup and pour it in the pan slowly to check whether a well flowing string is formed while the sugar syrup is poured down)
  • Now add the prepared maida and milk powder mixture slowly and keep stirring so that  no lumps are formed.
  • The mixture will immediately thicken, now add some ghee and keep stirring.
  • Add the remaining ghee and stir well until it all forms a single mass.
  • Add any edible food color you want and mix well until the color spreads evenly. Stir well for another 2 minutes. (by this time you must be able to make non-sticky balls out of it, if not pour some more ghee and keep stirring well until you can make a nice and smooth non-sticky ball)
  • Remove from flame and spread it (will be like chapati dough) into a greased pan.
  • Sprinkle some chopped nuts, saffron strands and press well using a flat surface greased with ghee. Set aside.
  • When it cools down cut into desired shapes using a any cookie cutter or knife and serve!
TIP 1: If you are not sure about the sugar syrup consistency, just check whether the sugar syrup has got sticky, then add the flour.

TIP 2: If you do not wish to use food color you can avoid it but instead of adding cashew nuts you can add pistachio nuts which will give a nice contrasting color.TIP 3: Slightly dry roast the cashew nuts and then chop it to give a crisper taste.TIP 4: You can also grease a flat surface with ghee then place the dough (after it cools down well) on it and spread well using a rolling pin (the ones you use for making chapatis) then sprinkle some chopped nuts and press well again. Using a cookie cutter chop into desired shapes then. This will be easier than the former method. Whatever utensils you use grease it well with ghee so that the dough does not stick to them.TIP 5: The texture will change once it has cooled down well. Initially it will be very soft bu later on it will get the perfect burfi texture.TIP 6: You can also separate the prepared dough into two portions add two different food colors and prepare colorful burfis also.


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