Growing up in Central Trinidad, meant that the sights, sounds and taste of Divali were all around. Exploding bamboo and the sounds of Indian music floating on the air were usually our first indicators that Divali time was upon us. (There are some links below to learn more about Diwali.)
We were always blessed to have wonderful friends in the area who would invite us to their homes to take part in their Divali traditions. As a child I remember the delight of helping to light deyas at a friends home, loving the tiny clay vessels and the smell of the coconut oil used for the deyas.
Another wonderful aspect for me of course, was all the wonderful food shared so generously at the houses of our friends. Delicious channa and aloo, bhodi, sweet and savory curry mango, pumpkin, fragrant dhal all mopped up by silky partaha roti – it was the only time of year I did not mind a vegetarian meal. The queen of all dishes for me was always the complex coconutty, delicious taste of curry chatigne - available usually only around this time of year. Of course to top it all off were all the delicious deserts, the delicate prasaad being my favourite – we would take it home and I would savour it's soft sweetness, flecked with coconut and raisons.
It was at quite an early age I leant about and respected Hindu traditions of Divali despite being Catholic. It was only years of living abroad that made me realise how I took this aspect of our culture for granted. This acceptance, appreciation and respect of other cultures and religion is one of the many aspects of Trinidad that should be cherished.
Shubh Diwali !
Learn more about Diwali
Here are some helpful links if you wish to learn more about DiWali:
- The website Best of Trinidad has a nice short overview of Divali and you can also find a calendar of cultural and religious events.
- Did you know there were five days of Diwali? I didn't.
- Trini Moms has a great Diwali article that gives history, activities that occur at Diwali (and where) and an overview of much of the food eaten at this time in Trinidad.
- For more a detailed history Wikipedia is always good and it confirms that Divali (with a 'v') is also used for this festival.
- Want to try your hand at preparing Diwali meals? Try CaribbeanPot and DiscoverTT