I threw my first Diwali party in Arizona twelve years ago. It’s funny the moves life makes.
In 2006, I was living in Tucson, a second-year MFA student whose father had died unexpectedly, searching for ways to honor him and to make something meaningful with my grief. When I strung lights outside of my little casita on East Elm and cooked up a storm using every pot in my tiny kitchen, I had no idea that I was starting a tradition that would carry me and my family through so many shifts and changes.
In 2011, we celebrated Jill’s completion of cancer treatment; in 2012, we welcomed Shiv into the mix; in 2014, we skipped the party completely because the month was already (happily) filled with the weddings of close friends; in 2015, we celebrated finally being able to get married ourselves.
2018 will stand out in future memory as the year we started over: new city, new family configuration (three generations under one roof), new job (for me), and new pronouns for Shiv, who is now using she/her/hers. Moving has provided an opportunity for Shiv to be known and related to in the way that feels right to her. It’s been a wonderfully smooth transition overall, and we are proud of Shiv for advocating for what she needs.
After twelve years, I’ve learned that it’s impossible to predict what our lives will look like this time next year. But no matter what else is happening at the time, Diwali always serves to reminds me that love is a commitment I can maintain inside of any circumstances. When nothing else seems to make sense, love always does.
So even if we made different food in a different house for a different set of people, even if we invited folks to 1816 E. Alicia instead of 810 North Elder Grove, the core intention for having a Diwali party remains the same as it was in 2013:
Our hope is to create something magical, to render our home a sacred space, one in which strangers can meet and connect, feel and share joy, and leave well fed not just in stomach but in soul. To me, Diwali is, in its essence, an affirmation of the belief that love is the strongest force in the universe; that, no matter how hopeless things seem, human goodness will always triumph. And each year, the people whom we are lucky enough to have in our lives show up at our house and serve as living proof of that belief.
It wouldn’t be a Diwali post if I didn’t write at least a little bit about the food we made, linking to recipes where I can:
homemade granola (spiced with mace, ginger, & cardamom) served with pomegranate seeds & my Mom’s famous homemade yogurt ~ poha (pounded rice) made with sweet potatoes ~ seminya (vermicelli) upma ~ cilantro and tamarind chutneys for serving ~ Nik Sharma’s Bombay Fritatta (please buy that man’s gorgeous cookbook ASAP) ~ candied ginger scones ~ Molly Yeh’s basbousa (semolina-pistachio cake) ~ turmeric snickerdoodles (I riffed on this recipe, using Diaspora Co. turmeric – no other brand can compare – adding cardamom & cinnamon to the cookies & rolling in cinnamon sugar)
homemade chai, Turkish coffee made by Jill, & a mimosa station with guava, grapefruit, and peach-mango-orange juices
Diwali posts, previously: