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How to celebrate a very different Diwali

A note on our Diwali special issue

Marble bulbs by Rooshad Shroff.
Marble bulbs by Rooshad Shroff. (Marble bulbs by Rooshad Shroff.)

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court suspended the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region till 1 November. It is a move that reveals changing preferences on the way we celebrate Diwali.

We took a cue from that to curate what we believe is the most poetic gift this season. Also helps that they are immensely practical (see our round-up of the best anti-pollution and air-purification devices

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Even as some traditions fade away, Diwali is still a time for gifting, donating to causes you believe in, for decluttering and redecorating homes, and most of all, indulging in good food. We present options to all of the above, however. We scout for more creative ideas for gifting, more eco-conscious ways of celebrating and more mindful ways of feasting.

For those who see this festive season as an opportunity to give back to society but don’t know exactly where to start, on pages 12 and 13, see our round-up of 10 organizations that turn your excesses into valuable resources for others.

In our search for the alternative narrative, we moved away from the staple mythology surrounding Diwali and rediscovered Chandrabati and Atukuri Molla, two 16th century women poets who rewrote the Ramayan in their respective languages, Bengali and Telugu.

No celebration is complete without a feast, no matter which way you swing. On the one hand, we dug out for you sinful, indulgent recipes from the royal kitchens of the past ; the Sheer Kadhi, for instance, a preparation unique to Awadh or present-day Lucknow, the historic seat of gastronomy. On the other hand, we present a selection of gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free gourmet options for the health-conscious .

We also happily discovered that some essential ingredients are irreplaceable. Desi ghee being one of them. Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar praises the kitchen staple. And a sweet-maker from a 116-year-old sweetshop in Old Delhi talks about its lingering, undying significance.

As you get together with your family this coming week, or even if you decide to spend a quiet, relaxing holiday away from the brouhaha (possibly along with your pet, there are options), we wish for you a celebration that is true to you. May you find your own authentic, alternative way of spreading light and love.

Happy Diwali!

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