- Diwali, the Indian subcontinent’s festival of light, takes place on 24 October
- Local entrepreneurs are reinvigorating the contemporary Diwali gift market
- Gold and silver coins, grazing boxes and handcrafted lamps are some of the in-demand gifts
This year’s festivities is seeing an unleashing of creativity.
For Sanjeev Arora and Shweta Tangri Arora, the couple behind the Foodie Wok gifting service, this Diwali is a chance to honour tradition but also play around with contemporary flavours and presentation.
Gulab jamun meets macaron to make ‘gulabaroon’ and the traditional carrot halwa gets a trifle twist. Credit: Supplied/Foodie Wok
To welcome the occasion, they have created a range of Indian-inspired grazing boxes whose contents don’t necessarily adhere to conventions.
“It’s a passion project for us, we identified a gap from an Indian perspective in the Australian market and started with grazing boxes that were well received,” says Ms Tangri Arora, who is an accountant by profession and does food styling for the Foodie wok.
We do not weigh every sweet in kilograms [as is tradition], we avoid artificial sugar, preservatives, food colours, additives and use raw sugar to cook our sweets.
Shweta Tangri Arora
Today they are busy preparing hundreds of sweet boxes and hampers for corporate clients who wish to gift them to their employees, as is the Diwali tradition ‘back home’.
Sanjeev Arora and Shweta Tangri Arora, the couple behind the ‘gulabaroons’. Supplied by the Foodie Wok.
“I have orders from Australian employers who wish to treat their Indian staff with Diwali gifts and Indian corporate heads who want to celebrate with their non-Indian teams. The demand has grown exponentially,” says Mr Arora.
For many people celebrating Diwali, it’s an auspicious time to buy gold, which is considered a symbol of wealth, hope and luck.
Ms Simpson says there has been strong demand for the coins, not only from the Indian diaspora but from others who are buying them as collectibles and for investment purposes.
ABC Bullion launched unique Diwali-themed coins to commemorate the anniversary of India’s 75th Independence and celebrate Diwali. Supplied by ABC Bullion. Credit: Fine Jewellery Images
“I have been working with ABC Bullion for 27 years,” she tells SBS Hindi. “It was different 27 years ago when the community was a lot smaller but, since that time, the Indian community has grown as shown in the census figures from last year.”
Our Indian clientele is becoming more sophisticated, they know what they want and are actually a growing part of our client base.
Janie Simpson, managing director of ABC Bullion
This year Mr Vance says they are expecting the Sunday before Diwali to be especially busy, so the Perth Mint is setting up a click-and-collect option, enabling special bullion trading to cater to the community that wishes to buy gold that day.
The Perth Mint has created Diwali-themed medallions with culturally appropriate design and packaging. Credit: Supplied/Perth Mint
According to Mr Vance, the demand for gold grew during the pandemic. In each of the last few years, they have sold about 3,000 Diwali medallions.
He says the medallions do well in countries that have a strong, large Indian community, with the Perth Mint also distributing them to the US, Germany and Singapore.
Small business successes and stumbling blocks
A collage of Diwali lanterns created by Jyotsna Takle and her students. Credit: Supplied
While her original lamp design was made of bamboo, Ms Takle says sourcing the material in Australia increased the cost, so she had to find a cheaper alternative.
Using food-safe products, good quality clay, glazes and other materials increases the overall cost and thus affects the demand, particularly when the market has been inundated with cheaper alternatives imported from India.
Handmade items created by Vaishali Hingmire as part of her previous year’s Diwali collection. Credit: Supplied
However, according to Ms Hingmire, there is always demand from those who value good quality and appreciate the skill, time and effort that goes into handcrafted items.
“People are increasingly getting health-conscious so they are looking for healthier alternatives, even in gifts, and they are willing to spend on good quality,” he adds.