03 – NOVEMBER 2021



‘Deepavali’ is derived from the words ‘deepa’ and ‘avali’ which mean ‘light’ and ‘row’ respectively. It alludes to the lines of lamps that would be lit in celebration by the Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, and some Buddhists, an annual affirmation of the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

While the festivities are an exuberant, outward expression of joy, there are also more solemn moments during Deepavali, Diwali, or Tihar celebrations, that invite one to introspect and strive towards an inner light. In the five days of the festival, ancestors are remembered, personal convictions are strengthened, and family and the wider community are knitted more closely together through the sharing of food and partaking of rituals.

In this third edition, we are pleased to share a collection of written and narrated stories, exploring themes ranging from belonging and identity, to longing and loving. Just like the community that commemorates this festival, the recipes in this issue can be traced to diverse parts of India, demonstrating just how vast an array celebration food this time of the year is. We hope that reading, listening, and cooking through this issue will give you a glimpse of how rich this festival culture is and whets your appetite for more.

In this Issue

Love Has No Distance
Aruna Shanmuga Vadivel reflects on her relationship with her grandmother.

This is Singapore
Kokilavani Silvarathi makes a case for the uniqueness of Deepavali in Singapore.

Sound and Colour
Prema Jayakumar expounds on the Indian dictum of treating guests like god.

Sugar Atlas
An exploration of the sweets and their role in Indian food culture.

A Sweet Connection
Vidula Verma pays tribute to a great cook and impeccable hostess – her mother.

‘Orange Sweets’
Aditi Ravi explains why we should move past a generic understanding of Indian food.  

A Conversation with Devagi Sanmugam
Home, to Devagi Sanmugam, effortlessly blends into community.

Rekha Dreams of Darjeeling
In a time of COVID, Rekha Rai recalls her childhood and imagines her future.

To Arunima Mukherjee, Diwali is about belonging and identity.

The Gambling Floor
At Shalini Kale’s house, the party really starts when cloth is spread across the floor.

Stirring Up An Appetite for Appam
For Madam Shalini’s household, eating appam on Deepavali morning is a ritual.

Fusion is Not a Bad Word
Biryani finds its way out of palaces, onto the streets of India and beyond.

A Biryani Walkthrough
A detailed guide to perfecting biryani at home.

Manasa Sitaram reflects on the nourishment provided by mother figures in her life.

Festival of Food
Self-professed ‘newbie Nonya’ Purnima Balraju shares about the heart of her home.

I Have a Brother
Bidhya Limbu opens up about Bhai Tika, the fifth day of Nepali Tihar.