The nation is gearing up to celebrate Diwali 2017. This year Diwali would be celebrated on the 19th October 2017. With less than a week remaining for the festival, one can’t help but notice the festive spirit that has taken over the air already. Like each year, shops have put out their best to cash in on the festive season from the staples like fairy lights, earthen diyas (oil lamps), candles, and traditional sweetmeats to special Diwali gift hampers – Diwali has always been a grand affair for the country and a look around local shops testifies the same. While new food trends are creating ripples in the market, somewhere in between the ritualistic festive fervor there have been many old food traditions that seem to be disappearing from the festivities too.
For instance the Khilone during Diwali- The edible sugar crafted into animal shapes, has been an inescapable part of the festival of lights since decades, especially in parts of North India like Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana. The edible sugar toys has been one of the biggest festive highlight for Diwali especially for kids who would play with them and feast on these animals as part of their Diwali celebrations. But the yummy white crystalline toys are finding it tough to hold its place amidst the extensive range of unique sweet treats that are available in the market now.
Mr. Anil Bansal, Shop owner of Parkash Provisonal Store at Yusuf Sarai, New Delhi who sells these toys every year, “They come only during Diwali. People buy them in small quantities for their family or Laxmi pujas. We get our supplies from Khari Baoli. Each year the sale ranges from 2 to 3 quintals”
So what are these sweet toys and how are they made?
Making these toys is no cakewalk and needs skill and expertise of an expert. Sugar and water are first mixed together thoroughly and heated in a large vessel. This crystalline mixture is consistently stirred to attain the desired concentration. When the mixture gets the perfect concentration and viscosity it is carefully poured into the specially made moulds made of wood, in designs of animals, including horses, rabbits, horses, elephants and fish.
Measuring about two inches in height, the sugar toys are mostly white in colour, but in some shops you would also find them in different colours.
The toys which were once a common fixture during Diwali celebrations, are still popularly used for the Laxmi Puja that take place on the day of Diwali, along with kheel, batasha, coconut laddoo and puffed rice
But the truth is that only a handful of traditional sweet toy makers are left in the country. People who have become more conscious of the health and sugar intake are shying away from buying these toys in large quantities or are simply going for the newer variety of sweetmeats and desserts available in the market during these times.
Batashe wali gali in Lucknow and Mishri bazaar in Kanpur still happens to be some of the biggest makers and suppliers of the Khilone or sugar toys. This Diwali 2017 gobble into these cute animals and make the festivities even more sweeter.
Happy Diwali 2017!