We had two maids at the time who would get fresh cow dung from the milk man down the road. They would then line the terrace walls and the compound wall with small pats of cow dung about a feet apart. One of us would then follow with the mud diyas which would, by the way, be brought out from storage that morning and aired in the sun. These are then placed on the cow dung so that as the cown dung dries, the diya is held firmly in place. Oil comes next and this is brought by appa (he had a provisions store back then) by the can – the cheap gingelly oil that’s exclusively used for lighting lamps – and poured by the maids. My duty came next which was to line each of the diyas with the wick, the threaded kind bought by the dozens from the market. Once done lining the entire house (there would be close to 250 diyas by the time we are done), I would impatiently wait for dusk to fall because amma was very strict about when to start lighting them. 4-5 of us would start lighting the diyas from various points holding candles to each of the wicks, and in about 15 mins, our house would look gorgeous, the best it does all year. We would then all go out the gate, stand in a corner, and admire this blessing, this home that we all live in every day and take for granted.
Over 22 years later, these memories still linger very fresh in my mind and often when I have dreams of the old house, Karthigai and this routine we had plays a part.
Anyway, on to the food. Admittedly, I didn’t remember what food was made for Karthigai back then because the lighting of the lamps was more of a focus than the food (again, unlike Diwali) so I asked amma last weekend when I spoke to her. She said we generally only make sugiyan and two types of vadai (medhu vadai and masala vadai) for Karthigai. A Tamilian friend of mine said that her mom invariably makes appam for Karthigai so I am including that in the list too.
Sorry for the rambling! I will move on to the recipes now.
7 Easy Recipes for Karthigai Deepam (Karthikai) Festival
Click on the images to go to the recipes