It is difficult to imagine the festival of Tihar without sweets. From the old days, Tihar has been as much a festival of sweets as the festival of lights for Hindu devotees. Gifts of sweets have long been customary among friends, family and siblings. Alleys and gallis in the Capital city and beyond buzz with deep frying of traditional sweets like selroti, anarasha, lakhamari and aarsha.
Unlike the past, people don’t choose to make their own sweets, instead opting to buy them readymade from the market and the numerous sweet shops. In Kathmandu, sweet shops seem busier than any other storefront.
Despite the colourfully adorned Indian sweets, it seems people still prefer the traditional Nepali sweets for the festival of Tihar. Conventional sweets like selroti, laddu, anarasha, lakhamari and aarsha sell twice as much as Indian sweets, claimed sweet shop owners. Traditional Nepali sweets avoid the use of colour and preservatives, which are prominent in Indian sweets, possibly a reason for their enduring popularity during this Hindu festival. “Traditional sweets are mandatory for religious purposes during Tihar. They are everyone’s favourite during this time of the year,” said Shambu Shrestha who owns a sweet shop in Naradevi.
Customers themselves said they buy sweets from shops as they are difficult to prepare at home. “It takes a lot of skill, time and patience to make sweets. And even if we make them ourselves, there is a high chance that we will fail to give them the proper shape that professional cooks are able to give them. Buying sweets from shops is much better,” said Rashila Shakya, a local of Makhan. She trusts that the sweets she buys from shops are hygeinic as the owners have been in the business for a long time. “We usually buy sweets from the same place. There are many old shops where hygiene and quality is paid great attention,” said Shakya.
Sweet shop operator Shrestha also claimed that customers this year are displaying new behaviour, where the are more conscious of the hygiene and natural taste of sweets. “Most of the customers are buying sweets in their original colour. Even local sweets using artificial colour are being ignored,” said Shrestha. Given the customers’ preference, Shrestha claimed that he does not use colour in most of his sweets.
Another sweet shop owner, Jhalak Chand Gamal, said he only uses authorised colours in his sweets. “Colour is an essential element in sweets as it makes them attractive. However, we are only colours that are allowed and normally used,” said Gamal.
Posted on: 2012-11-14 09:57