‘What Does Diwali Mean to Us This Year?’ We Asked 8 Food Pros.

Figuratively and literally the most lit festival that exists, the word derives from the Sanskrit word “deepavali,” translating to “a row of lamps.” Mythology explains that it was first celebrated when after 14 years in exile, Lord Rama came home to Ayo…

Figuratively and literally the most lit festival that exists, the word derives from the Sanskrit word "deepavali," translating to "a row of lamps." Mythology explains that it was first celebrated when after 14 years in exile, Lord Rama came home to Ayodhya in northern India and the entire village was lit up in his honor. Even today, Indians all over the world celebrate the five days that fall in the Kartik month of the Hindu calendar.

In a year different than any other Diwali before it, I checked in with chefs and food professionals—both in India and part of the diaspora—about what Diwali means to them, both generally and in 2020. One thing shone brighter than the warq on my kaju katli: While we may all have our cultural take and sui generis rituals, what accompanies the covey of sweets is a nostalgia-filled culinary narrative that is common to every Indian no matter where they are.

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The Indian-Inspired Dessert I Make to Celebrate My Hybrid-Culture Diwali

I grew up with a deep desire to learn about the traditions and culture that my parents left behind when they emigrated from India. I had always experienced an “Indian-ness” to my everyday American life: We spoke almost exclusively in Gujarati at home, …

I grew up with a deep desire to learn about the traditions and culture that my parents left behind when they emigrated from India. I had always experienced an “Indian-ness” to my everyday American life: We spoke almost exclusively in Gujarati at home, ate daily home-cooked Indian meals, and always seemed to be planning our next family vacations to India.

Despite this exposure to my cultural heritage, it always seemed hard to fully experience and understand Indian holidays as a kid growing up in the U.S. For example, my parents would share the most joyous childhood memories of celebrating Diwali, the four-day festival of lights that culminates in the celebration of the Hindu new year, but recreating those memories in our American lives was a different story.

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The Spicy, Crunchy Snack I’m Making for Diwali This Year

On your mark, get set, bake! Food52 contributor and Great British Baking Show contestant, Chetna Makan, is here to give us the lowdown on the kind of food she makes at home: simple, Indian-inspired weeknight wonders, showstopping sweets, and so much mo…

On your mark, get set, bake! Food52 contributor and Great British Baking Show contestant, Chetna Makan, is here to give us the lowdown on the kind of food she makes at home: simple, Indian-inspired weeknight wonders, showstopping sweets, and so much more.


Diwali is one of the biggest holidays in India, celebrated in mid-autumn. It's the festival of lights, signifying the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and many a diya ("tealight," in Hindi) and sparkler are lit to commemorate. It is also a rare occasion when everyone in the family stops work and gets together to celebrate. Of course, in India, Diwali is a national holiday, and schools and work are off for the day. While this is sadly not the case in the U.K., where I live, we try our best to fit in as much of the festival on a workday as we can!

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