Diwali, or Deepawali, is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the row of clay lamps (or deepa, or diya) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness. This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians.
So many Indian’s have taken to the LED flashing lights and
candles to celebrate Diwali. But clay lamp deepas are the tradition. And this year, my first year to celebrate, I wanted to go with the traditional clay lamps. I had no idea exactly how to pull it off, but how hard could it be? Little clay lamps were for sale in Loi Bazar, so I headed down there to purchase them. Then for the oil – I was told it was traditional ghee (clarified butter), so I picked up some of that, along with the cotton ball wicks (Pooja batti).
I love cooking with ghee, it adds such a beautiful buttery flavor to anything and has a much higher smoking point than regular butter. So any left over ghee in this experiment will not go to waste. Most of the year in Vrindavan, ghee is a liquid at room temperature. But by the time Diwali rolls around, it is a solid. So the first thing I do is melt the ghee. It doesn’t take much heat to liquefy.
After the ghee liquefies, remove from the heat and put in the cotton ball wicks to soak up the ghee.
After the cotton ball wicks are saturated with the ghee, remove them, and place them in the clay lamps. Be sure to position the wicks on the side of the clay lamps. They will not stand on their own in the middle. I tried, and so many of the wicks would just sink and die in the ghee.
Next, light the wicks!! This whole procedure is pretty messy, perhaps because I have never done it before, and didn’t really have the technique down. I had ghee and candle wax (I used a candle to light the wicks) all over my kitchen. And often the little wicks would sink and drown and the flame would go out. But, I was so happy to have my traditional deepa Diwali clay lamps to set at my door threshold for the festival!!
Here are my Diwali traditional clay lamps at my front gate:
And now, for the bonus!!
When I bought the clay lamps from the vendor, he told me to buy this clay cover that I could use to hold over the burning deepas to make kajal. And I thought, oh yea!! I’m all about trying that!!
So holding the clay cover over the flaming Diwali clay pots, I was
able to catch the soot from the flames. As soon as I held the clay top over the flames, the flames began to smoke and smudge the inside of the clay top. I figured out quickly that you need to just hold the top over the flames. If you place it on the lower clay pot, the flames go out – no soot is produced. This special clay top for collection the soot has a large, thick nob on top so you can
hold on to it without it getting too hot. And it collected smudgy soot like crazy!! I was told that this ghee produced soot is great for the eyes and very traditional. But the proof is in the pudding! Let’s see how it works!
I applied the ghee soot kajal kohl with a small eye liner brush to my inside eye rims, upper and lower This is a photo with just the kajal kohl soot applied. Really dark and intense!!
Then, I applied all my usual make for a stunning effect! I love this new kajal kohl! I wear make up all the time and kohl is definitely part of my regime. What I really love about this ghee soot kajal is that
- I made it myself.
- It’s totally natural.
- It LASTS all day! In the evening I checked it out, and it was still there, on my eye rims! I love it!
Let me know if you’ve tried to make the traditional Diwali lamps and any suggestions you have. Also, did you make ghee soot kajal? And how id you like it? Let me know by commenting below! I’d love to hear from you!