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Can’t wait for the holidays to begin? Consider starting early, by celebrating a festival beloved by Hindus and Jains across the globe. Deepwali, or Diwali for short, is the Indian “Festival of Lights.” Over the next five days, people the world over will celebrate by lighting earthen lamps, burning candles, and sending fireworks shooting up into the sky.
According to legend, Diwali commemorates the homecoming of King Rama, who returned after a fourteen-year exile in the forest. Citizens welcomed him back by lighting rows of lanterns to drive away the darkness. Today, Diwali is a chance to celebrate all the joys people tend to overlook during the year—to visit friends and family, and catch up on news, while gazing at fireworks exploding overhead. It’s also time to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Many businesses tempt her with beautiful decorations, and husbands have been known to lavish jewelry and other gifts on their wives.
But, you don’t have to be Hindu or Jain to teach your children about the festival of Diwali. Stock up on mithai (Indian sweets), line your house with candles, and use the holiday as an excuse to talk to the people you love most in the world.
Don’t forget to pull out the atlas and show them the country of India. Holidays are a wonderful way to introduce a new culture.
Here’s a recipe for Coconut Burfi, a popular Indian sweet.
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup coconut powder
¾ cup sugar
¼ tea spoon Cardamom powder
¼ cup nuts (cashew nuts, almonds and pistachios) shredded finely
6-7 saffron strands
Mix the cheese, coconut, sugar and cardamom powder in an oven proof bowl. Broil it for 20-30 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Cook until the sides are brown. Once it’s ready, take the hot mixture out, put it into another bowl, and add half of the nuts. Roll the prepared mixture on a flat surface and spread evenly with a spoon. Allow it to cool down completely, then slice it into squares as you would brownies. Garnish the top layer of the sweet with the remaining nuts and saffron strands. Enjoy!