Date’s late, but treats just as sweet at IAGC Diwali party

Kamini Patel uses a wide variety of spices in her food. Paul Zoeller/Staff

Although Diwali is centered on countering darkness with light, much like Christmas and Chanukah, the ancient Hindu festival doesn’t quite coincide with the American holiday season, which runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Because of scheduling glitches, though, the India Association of Greater Charleston (IAGC) this year is celebrating the major holiday smack in the middle of December.

The Dec. 12 celebration at West Ashley High School will feature traditional dance performances; Indian music; snacks and a buffet supper catered by Taste of India, including a few dishes not listed on the restaurant’s regular menu.

While there isn’t a single treat associated with Diwali, sweets are common during the five-day festival. IAGC president compares the holiday to Thanksgiving, when celebrants indulge in an array of rich foods. “Some of the Hindus like to have more fried foods,” Randhir Makkar says. Accordingly, the menu for the IAGC party includes vermicelli rice pudding and kala juman, or fried powdered milk dumplings coated in coconut (they’re similar to gulab jamun, which look like syrupy glazed donut holes, but darker in color).

For the main course, Taste of India is serving dishes such as shahi paneer and vegetable jalfrezi.

Diwali began on Nov. 11 this year, and was marked with fireworks displays from Lahore to London.

Tickets to the local Diwali celebration, which starts at 5 p.m., are priced at $18 for adults and $12 for children between the ages of 5 and 12; younger children are admitted free. A two-hour cultural program which consists primarily of “singing and dancing of famous chartbusters of Bollywood” will precede dinner.

Advance reservations are requested. To RSVP, call Makkar at (843)901-8637 or e-mail iagcchs@gmail.com.