Often known simply as the festival of lights, Deepavali is one of the key celebrations on the Hindu calendar and is one of the many festivals that is marked by the Indian community in Malaysia. The country welcomes a nationwide public holiday as Hindus and non-Hindus alike gather together to celebrate this special day.
Deepavali, for those not in the know, is an annual festival that falls during the 7th month of the Tamil lunar calendar. It gained its moniker as the ‘festival of lights’ thanks to the tradition of lighting candles in believers’ homes during this time to symbolize the triumph of light over dark, and good over evil, as the festival celebrates the moment when Lord Krishna, according to one legend, defeated the evil King Narakasura.
As with all celebrations in Malaysia, Deepavali has many edible delicacies associated with this special time, and stalls all over the country will spring up selling Indian sweets and savoury treats to tempt you, whether you are celebrating or not. These snacks are often served at the various open houses that many people will attend and are predominantly sweet, as they are thought to promise a sweet year ahead.
So if you want to ensure that the year ahead is filled with sweetness, take this chance to give yourself a sugar rush and taste some of the best sweets around this Deepavali time.Here are some of the more popular treats that you are sure to spot in a shop or on a roadside stall near you:
Laddu: These little balls of sweetness are a very popular sweet during Deepavali, particularly as they are so easy to make! Laddu are made by mixing garam flour, semolina, spices and sugar, and rolling the mixture into handy-sized balls.
Gajar Halwa: Also known as carrot pudding, this delicious treat is made by boiling grated carrots in milk until soft, before combining the mixture with - but of course - lots of sugar.
Ghee Balls: As calorific as the name suggests, these balls are made with ghee, grinded cashews, flour and sugar. They simply melt in the mouth, making them rather addictive.
Murukku: These crunchy coiled biscuits are a popular snack any time of year, and are made from a batter of flour and spices that is fried until crispy.
Dahi Bhalla: Fried spoonfuls of batter are soaked in water, and then served in a yoghurt mixture for a refreshing snack.
Omopadi: Another savoury snack for those with a sugar over-load, these crispy, noodle-like snacks are made by creating a dough with garam flour, rice flour and ajwain powder. The dough is squeezed through a special press with tiny holes and then deep-fried until crispy.
Jalebis: These bright crispy treats are made by creating a batter of semolina and flour, which is then piped into thin strands and twisted into their shape, before being deep-fried. Once allowed to cool, they are soaked in syrup to give them that extra sweet kick!
But the list is endless! Each year, stallholders seem to develop more and more new sweets so there will be plenty to keep you munching the whole month long. If you are living in the capital, be sure to visit Little India or Brickfields, where all these delicious treats will be sold every day leading up to the festival – which falls on the 26th October – and join in the festivities the sweet way!