Diwali gifts at one time meant new clothes given by my parents, a small token of cash given by my father for Padwa and another gift of cash given by my brother for BhauBeej and some more cash from other relatives whom we met during Diwali. We made or bought Diwali cards which we sent to relatives and friends and we dropped off home made sweets to our neighbours on Diwali day. This was how I celebrated Diwali while growing up.
Diwali gifts took on an entirely new dimension after I got married. Being part of a business family we often got gifts from business associates. A few days before Diwali would come baskets laden with fruit: dozens of sweetlime, a pineapple or two, half a dozen oranges, some apple and chickoo and if the merchant was generous some pomegranate too! The huge big basket covered with gelatine paper would be hauled into the kitchen after they were delivered by either the office peon or the delivery boy. Since we weren’t too sure whether the gifts would be delivered in person, we had to dress up in our diwali finery to receive the merchants and offer them cups of tea and home made sweets in return.
Gradually, gift giving became more impersonal and more sophisticated. Gone were the shabbily dressed delivery boys and gone too were the merchants who preferred to send gifts smartly packed with their drivers or office boys. Baskets of fresh fruit were replaced by boxes of dry fruit – kilos of cashew and almond, with some raisins thrown in. A generous merchant would add pistachios as well as dried figs or then sweetmeats made out of dry fruit.
The Dry Fruit Box became more and more ostentatious as the years went by – with tiny compartments stuffed with some amount of assorted dry fruit – fig, cashew, pistachio, apricot and stuffed dates. For a while these boxes would contain a cashew marzipan biscuit like discs which supposedly lasted for months if they were not eaten up in minutes. Sometimes dry fruit were gifted in fancy plastic boxes or in fancy storage bottles that could be kept on the dining table or side board. These have long since lost currency as have dried fruit which have since been replaced by chocolates and designer sweet meats. It was fun opening boxes with elaborate or elegant wrapping to uncover some hidden delights beautifully packaged and delightful to taste.
Diwali Gifts now
Gradually the gifts became less ornate and more practical and even unique. With merchants being replaced by corporates, the gifts became more sophisticated. Pens, coffee mugs, small electronic items , “novelty” items became the rage. Gift giving took on new proportions with Trade Fairs for gifts being organised so that corporates could find gifts that suited their image.
Yesterday I got a Diwali gift from Manvinder Dawer of India Fine Art an art gallery at Famous Studios Tardeo who is the only dealer of T.Vaikuntam in the city – a set of coasters printed with Vaikuntam’s work.
Thank you for your Diwali gift Mani.
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