The I-44 Gujarati Samaj, an Indian cultural group formed to promote fellowship among the growing community of people of Indian descent in the area, held its Diwali celebration at the St. Robert Community Center on Nov. 9
About 85 families came together to celebrate the Indian festival of light with food, music, dancing, native dress and other traditions associated with the celebration.
Diwali's significance in Indian culture can be compared to the Christian Christmas or Jewish Hanukah. It is a five-day festival of light, celebrating the triumph of good over evil.
In India, Diwali is the biggest and most important holiday of the year, according to National Geographic.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and even some Buddhists. There are multiple legends and traditions associated with the holiday and, depending upon the the religion and region celebrators originate from, can be associated with any one of them.
All traditions carry the same overall message, celebrating bringing light into the celebrants lives in the form of joy, prosperity and happiness, according to I-44 Gujarati Samaj secretary Bhavik Tailor.
According to Tailor, the most important part of Diwali is the lighting of candles and lamps The candles are meant to chase away darkness and bring light into celebrants lives.
Candles are usually set into Rangoli drawings outside celebrants' homes and are traditionally drawn by the women of the family. Rangoli are meant to be welcoming areas for Hindu deities and are drawn using colored sand, rice, flour or flower petals.
Another tradition of Diwali is to wear new clothes and and women can be seen wearing saris in bright colors, embellished with sparkling stones or embroidery to reflect the light themed festival.
Food is another important part of Diwali and depending upon on the region the celebrants, can involve a multitude of foods. Most popular during the celebration are sweets of all kinds, but according to the Indian Tribune, Gulab Jamuns could easily be called the most popular.
Gulab Jamuns are similar to donut holes, which are popular in the United States. Traditionally the fried balls are soaked in a syrup and exchanged during Diwali celebrations.
Gulab Jamuns recipe curtesy of diwalicelebrations.net
1 cup Bisquick
2 cup Carnation Powder
2 cup Water
1 1/2 cup Sugar
4 pods Cardamom Seeds
4 tbsp Butter
6-8 drops Rose Water
1/8 cup Yogurt
1/2 cup Milk
Heat butter and pour in a bowl. Add bisquick, carnation powder and yogurt and blend together. Knead well adding milk if necessary.
Make a smooth ball, cover and let rest for around 30 minutes. Make 12-14 small balls.
Heat the water, add sugar, and bring to boil, add cardamom seeds and simmer.
Boil, then simmer to reduce the water by half. Heat the oil until hot and fry the balls to a golden brown or until they are dark brown, almost black.
Soak in sugar syrup for a few hours until they double in size