Diwali or Deepavali (literally means a row of lights) is to majority of Indians what Christmas is to majority of Australians – the biggest festival on the calendar and a time of joy that’s best celebrated with family, friends and fellow members of community.

Diwali is celebrated as the festival of lights by followers of Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism, three prominent Indian religions. In India, traditional Diwali celebrations last over 5 days and their magnificence is to be seen to be believed. Preparations begin early. It is believed that goddess Laxmi, the deity of wealth, visits only the cleanest of houses on Diwali night. Unsurprisingly, houses are scrubbed cleaned from top to bottom days ahead in anticipation of onset of prosperity.

Markets are decorated lavishly as this is the biggest boom time of the year for sellers. Temporary stalls are set up selling firecrackers, earthen lamps, gods’ and goddesses’ idols and items used in worship rituals. String lights and lanterns are hung to illuminate homes and decorative patterns known as alpana or rangoli are drawn on floors by the ladies of the household. The kitchens see hectic activities as a vast variety of mithai (Indian sweetmeats) is prepared.

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People often postpone big purchases to the day of Dhanteras, 2 days before Diwali, as this is deemed to be the most auspicious time to spend money. As a result, car dealers, jewellers, durable consumer goods showrooms, garment stores and utensil shops do roaring businesses. People also visit one another’s homes to convey Diwali wishes and take along sweets and Diwali gifts. Most companies give a Diwali bonus to employees.

The main Diwali worship is held on the no-moon night of Hindu month of Kartik (usually falls at the end of October or the beginning of November). As the sun goes down and darkness falls, people light up earthen lamps called diyas in front of idols of goddess Laxmi and Lord Ganesha (an elephant headed Indian god) and perform elaborate worship rituals called aarti and puja. After worship, it is time to burst crackers, have a sumptuous feast and enjoy good times with family and friends. Many people gamble through the night as winning at cards on Diwali night is seen as the harbinger of prosperity for the next year.

In Australia, the Indian community is large and numbers around 400,000. As the majority of these are Hindus, Diwali is indeed a noticeable festival in the pockets with high Indian population. While individual families do celebrate Diwali with fanfare in their homes, a great feature of the Australian Diwali is the community celebrations in the form of Diwali carnivals or fests where people get together to celebrate the day with stalls selling all things traditionally Indian, enjoy Indian foods, watch Bollywood movies, dance to live Indian music, get henna patterns drawn on palms and light up the evening with fireworks. This year in Melbourne, a Diwali Fest will take place at Fed Square on October 25, 2014.

Diwali at Tandoori Flames is an elaborate and lavish affair. We don’t just deck up our restaurant, we also create a special traditional Diwali menu that celebrates the festive spirit of the season delectably. So do visit us and get a superb taste of Diwali celebrations and festivities right here in the heart of Melbourne. Check out our Diwali Celebrations evening.

Tandoori Flames 15 Vernon Street, South Kingsville and 583 Barkly Street, West Footscray

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