I love Australia, the beaches, football, barbeques and everything in between. As an Indian living in Australia and having spend most part of my growing years in India, I miss all the in’s and out’s, hustle and bustle during any festival season.
I dream of celebrating all the Hindu/Indian festivals here in Australia with the same flora, enjoying all the delicacies that champion any menu and to do it with friends – laughing, dancing and singing.
As a young mother, I also want my children to experience the tradition and culture much in the same way as I did many years ago.
Celebrations are never small whether it is in Australia or India. So when we (me and Mr. Husband) decided to celebrate Diwali (Deepavali) the guest numbers weren’t small. From the very beginning we had a clear idea – to bring the same feel, experience and enjoyment to the party and to friends as we have known from living in India.
Although we live in a sizeable apartment/unit with a huge balcony, numbers of 50 adults and 15 kids were a deep thought for an evening/dinner party.
To express Diwali and the Hindu tradition with a touch of both modern and royal celebration styles, on this auspicious occasion we decided to go for a modern traditional theme.
Decorations were traditional and complementary;
Shamiana in the main hall:
To create a fall celling effect I used a Bandhej saree (which I had bought on ebay). The Dark red colour made it look majestic and royal.
Big French windows (balcony door):
Leading from the hall is the entrance to the big balcony. To complete the traditional (accompanying the Shamiana) feel draped the entrance from the inside (looking into the lounge) with red net and gold shimmer cloth.
For the outer side of the glass door trimmed it with soft blue string lights, these softened the bright royal colours of the lounge.
Entrance to the Kitchen:
I used the brick balcony, as a back drop to an old by lane laid out it with lanterns, steel bins, globe string lights, black chairs and clear transparent plastic sheet to close the open section (this actually stopped rain from getting into the balcony).
The starter menu for the evening was in the balcony, on tables with bright red table covers. The warm starters were served in the foil trays, bought an old rusty cake stand to serve Indian sweets, a terracotta plate for cheese and crackers, steel tubs (ice buckets) for drinks, and golden coloured plates and spoons.
At the entrance:
I made a rangoli (which is a traditional indian floor drawing art) at the entrance using hand made designer acrylic pieces. This made it easy and quick, normally can be bought online. Also made sure to have enough basic plastic shoe racks, a rain coat hanger and an umbrella basket (used the laundry basket) to keep the entrance clear and dry on a rainy evening.
Getting Mehndi (henna) done on ones’ hand makes the tradition come true. Women love it and would never miss a chance to get inked. I decorated a complete L-Shape corner with leaf and flower bales, sequence cushion with jaipuri bed sheet to cover the seating. You can see why it was my favourite spot. I hired services of a indian professional henna artist, very cost effective when compared to the number of hands and the designs she had made. Even some of Children got it done.
Food table “the FOOD CART”:
We converted our dinning table to resemble a indian roadside food stall also know as “bandi”, “thala”. This was our LUCKY STALL.
After some thinking and designing we used bamboo sticks to raise columns on each side and wrapped them with streamer and foils, added pin-wheels to each of the sticks, hung a lantern in the centre above the middle of table, the jute table cloth and the wheels cut out in shapes from mount board gave it the local look. All this and much more work came together with a slate board hanging on one side that had the menu for the evening written on it.
For the buffet I used chafing dishes with aluminium pans on fire racks with fuel, it looked perfect and kept the food hot right till the last minute.
Many other decorations around the house such as the
the hall way entrance
children’s room entrance
kitchen window in to dinning area
plus battery powered candles around the house, floating candle in the bath tub, creepers around the corners, etc. supplemented the evening with a modern traditional experience. Use of props gave the guest to pretend play and click awesome memories.
Activities and Games;
Kids first: So they needed to be entertained, kept busy and most important they need to be shown what Diwali means. Thus I particularly looked for an entertainer who would distil the feel and essence of Diwali. We decided to have a Diwali Fairy concept that readily involved every child. She did exactly the job needed, the kids were happy and well more informed.
Then what about adults: I made them play 3 one minute couple games –
Who am I based on Bollywood celebrity names, Create a mummy (in one min wrap your partner using toilet tissue rolls), Neck Tie a handkerchief with out using hands around your partner
Just like the games the winning prizes had a twist, body plastic massager, kitchen hand paper towels and others
As always coming up with a well balanced, good menu is a hard task. We had many samplings over a period of few months to come up with a full menu of starters, mains, deserts, drinks, snack, nibbles, kid’s menu and much more
We started the evening with 3 hot items – Panner Tikka (Tandoori Cottage Cheeses), Kaaju Kebab (Cashew Kebabs), Vegetable Cutlet accompanying them with a cheese and cracker platter, potato chips, salt and spicy nuts, indian sweets (Boondi Ladoo and Kaju Katli), beverages (Soft drink, Lemonades, Juices) with beer and wine.
For mains we had 3 curries – Malai Kofta (Cottage cheese and Vegetable dumplings in thick gravy), Vegetable Kohlapuri (Spicy mixed fried vegetables in thick tomato sauce), Methi Mutter Malai (Pea and Fenugreek in thick milk, cream and cashew gravy). These were accompanied with Dal Fry (Yellow Lentils), Tandoori Naan/Roti, Jeera Rice (Cumin), Salad, Papads, Pickle, Boondi Raita (Gram Flour balls in yoghurt).
For the dessert we had Rabri (Thickened Sweetened Milk with layers of cream with lots of almonds decorated with saffron leaves)
Flow of the evening;
I had particularly planned the flow due to large numbers and space constraints. Such as the having the Mehndi done up early in the evening freed the space by the time dinner started, or whilst the kids were being entertained the adults managed to mingle, play games and have fun. Music played through the night, a mix of old and new Bollywood songs.
This party meant a lot to me and to all of us. It created many lasting memories and writing this up was more joys (bit late but never). I hope it has provided you with some insights.