Diwali, popularly known as the "festival of lights," is primarily a five day Hindu festival which starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin and ends on Bhaubeej, celebrated on second lunar day of Shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.
A profusion of traditional goodies means the festival of lights might almost be called the festival of sweets.
The immediate answer is sweets – and plenty of them. Indian sweetmeats, known as "mithai" are a cross between snack, dessert and confectionery. If there's one thing that captures the Indian culinary psyche, it's mithai. Little morsels are nibbled throughout the day, on their own, with masala chai or as part of a meal alongside savoury items.
Chickpea flour, rice flour, semolina, various beans, lentils and grains, squashes, carrots, thickened condensed milk or yoghurt are normally used as base ingredients; to which cashewnuts, almonds, pistachios, chirongi nuts or raisins are added. Fragrant with sweet spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg, they're further blinged up with saffron, rose or kewra (pandan leaf) water, and silver or gold leaf.
While "laddoos", "barfis" and "halwas" are universally popular, some of other items like "mawa kachori", "moti pak" and "sohan papdi" are more regional specialities requiring elaborate preparation. It's customary to exchange extravagantly decorated boxes of mithai, dried fruit, nuts or silver serving dishes with family and friends.
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