Written by Shanthini Rajkumar
From making sweets at home and sharing the same with our relatives and friends, Diwali gifting started veering in a different direction. Luxury gifts and fancy products began to cry for attention during the festival season.
A lot changed last year. Many of us reexamined our rituals and customs and made decisions to focus on what really mattered. The importance of traditions, culture and togetherness is being embraced more to make up for time lost in the past decade.
When we decided to launch a special hamper for Diwali, we thought long and hard about the joys this festival brings. To sit around with elders, listen to their memories with their grandparents and watch them giggle like naughty tots is unforgettable. It teaches us to perceive the world today through their eyes. At Two Brothers Organic Farms, we know that the real wealth lies in the family bond.
An activity which is interesting for all ages is undoubtedly food preparation. The native mithai recipes of our community are taking a back seat because there is no opportunity to teach these recipes to the younger lot. A DIY kit seemed a great idea to nudge the whole family into putting their heads and hands together to make a festive delicacy.
Another practice which was born out of convenience is the instant ready to cook foods. These require no skill and promise great taste without the effort. So we came up with a better option.
The fun that happens when trying to knead dough or make specific shapes is another line of stories altogether. Cousins teasing one another, children stealing fistfuls of jaggery to quietly enjoy and the aunts and grand mothers making sure each piece is the right shape and size makes for a whole lot of funny moments. The joy of feeling the impending festival is in these very moments.
A recipe card which comes with a thoughtfully curated hamper filled with the few ingredients to make a simple but much loved festive dish is a gift which will be put to good use. Thoughtful gifting is something we are all leaning towards. The idea that the money spent will encourage sustainable farming and food production is extremely satisfying. Imagine a world where we don’t have to worry about pesticides in our food chains or the fact that the food we eat during celebrations is actually good for us! It’s not the Shankarpalli or chakli or modak which is unhealthy but rather the ingredients that go into it when bought from a commercial food brand.
Using wholesome and real foods like Khapli atta, khapli rawa made with ancient Emmer wheat and mixing it with desi ghee and natural jaggery means that we don’t have to forgo making these traditional recipes. Often the delicious food which came out of our heritage kitchens comprise just the basic 4-5 ingredients and rely on hand skill.
As we mix and roll and pound, the ingredients transform in front of our eyes as if by magic. The thrill of watching the raw ingredients turn into a crisp chakli is something which is hard to match.
A store bought sweet is delicious, no doubt. After we have enjoyed it, there is a faint memory or a craving. A home made sweet or savoury ,on the other hand, is more than just the taste it comes with memories for a lifetime.
A home which bustles with activity also generates good vibes and we reiterate the importance of being a family. Going away on a vacation is fun any time of the year but ‘celebrating’ a festival in a specific manner holds immense significance as mentioned in Vedic texts.
So many books today talk about the importance of harnessing the power of the Universe, bringing positive energies into our homes and practicing harmonious living. If we take a closer look at our simple rituals, especially when it comes to our festivals, it ticks all of those boxes.
We have allowed cakes, chocolates and gaily wrapped sugar confections to take pride of place over laddoos, halwas and anything native. “I am off Indian sweets during Diwali” is seen as an accomplishment in order to not gain weight. Little do we realize the purpose of eating special treats during Diwali. It is meant to be eaten only during this period and not (as we do) all year round. The ghee, the sugar and the spices are meant to add the extra calories that we will use up while our bodies get acclimated to colder months and get into festival cleaning mode.
Gifts of this nature benefit the receiver while ensuring that the money spent goes for a greater good ,beyond the profit of the brand. The understanding of how the choices we make have an impact on the entire community is felt when we engage in thoughtful gifting.
The cultural diversity of our land is in the way we have formed a society which comes together and has created customs, beliefs and occasions to celebrate the same. Familiarity of belonging to a ‘tribe’ comes with understanding the origin of our practices. Rainy weather can give rise to mold and hence the need for extra Diwali cleaning. Adding badaam, pista, dried fruits and ghee nourishes and fortifies the body with a wide range of minerals and vitamins.
Stepping into an ancestral home also does carry memories of special food smells. We need to recreate the same for the generation that is growing up in urban India. Just because we may not have access to the villages of our forefathers and the stone grinders of another era does not mean we can’t recreate the nostalgia for our youth of today.
As a conscientious food brand we at Two Brothers are gathering stories, documenting recipes and entering social media spaces to make sure our efforts are seen, heard and felt. If we want to inspire food education on the right path the onus is on us to give it our best shot. We want to bring back the experience of the authentic Indian way of life and package it to suit modern living.
The Diwali DIY gift solution is a part of that process. We see it as a win-win. The customer gets everything handed over in a beautifully curated kit and learns to hone some cooking skills while we get to see our efforts go into the making of a healthier nation; one product at a time.
Wishing you and yours a safe and blessed Diwali.