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A Karamchandani Diwali

From our biggest party every year to our favorite ice cream promo

Every fall for the past 20+ years, the Karamchandani family gets ready for game time. The lights and decorations are set up, the playlist and games are put together, the food gets cooked, and Miss Neeta’s homemade mithai (Indian sweets) is made over the course of a month, as we prepare to host our biggest party of the year. Your family may host Thanksgiving, a Christmas party, a July 4th party, or some other occasion for your friends and family - for us, we go big for Diwali. We’ve been running it back every year since the late 90s, which is why it only makes sense to carry on the tradition at Miss Neeta’s Ice Cream Parlor!

A brief synopsis of what Diwali is all about

Diwali, aka the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by Hindus, as well as Sikhs, Jains, and Newar Buddhists all around the world every fall (the exact date varies between late October and early November every year because it’s based on the lunar calendar). Each religion and each community commemorates the occasion with their own traditions, but all with the common theme of symbolizing the triumph of light over dark, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. It’s a 5-day religious festival during which many different Hindu gods and their triumphs over evil are honored. The 3rd day (the day of the new moon, when the sky is at its darkest) is the main celebration, which revolves around lighting up your home and community with candles, lanterns, and diyas (clay lamps).

But beyond the religious significance and the prayers, Diwali is a time to wear your brightest clothes, get together with your friends and family, give each other gifts, set fireworks off in the streets, feast without regard, and party like it’s 1999. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing:

[Somewhere between 1997 - 1999] The first Karamchandani Diwali party we could find pictures for

The countdown with the K’s - Diwali party planning

I personally have zero recollection of the party above (I’m the little dude in the checkered jacket + red bowtie combo; apparently I had better style back then), but judging by the dance floor my parents have had no problems lighting up Diwali for almost 25 years. For as long as I can remember though, it’s been an engrained routine for our family that when summer is coming to a close, when October rolls around, the countdown to Diwali starts, and so does the party prep.

A few weeks out, Dad is in charge of the typical party logistics: sending out invitations, putting playlists together, creating games to play, and replenishing the booze cabinets. And Mom handles all the elements that elevate the occasion to the Diwali party to be at: the decorations, the lights, the food menu, and of course, the inimitable aspect that she’s famous for, the mithai. Yes, once a year, for her biggest party of the year, she makes all the mithai from scratch — her friends don’t call her the “Dessert Queen” for no reason! This year she made 16 different kinds, which is absurd even though I’ve grown up with it; and the new ice cream flavors we add to our menu every Diwali are simply an extension of what she’s been doing for years. As they say, “I got it from my mama."

The Party: a visual walk through the scenes

25ish years condensed into 25ish pictures and videos

The Prep

As the day of the party rolls around, it’s time to get the house ready for 75 guests

[2022] On the day of, the last decorations are put up, the buffet tables are assembled, the backyard heaters are fired up, and the drinks are lined up

The Pictures

The guests start arriving in the late evening; for the first hour, all you see are bright clothes, bright lights, and bright camera flashes

[2006] Splendid saris for the ladies; colorful kurtas for the dudes

[2004, 2010, 2014] Did the squad grow up or glow up? Definitely both

[2003, 2013, 2021] Your hosts for the evening! The Karamchandani family, which now also includes my awesome sister-in-law ❤️

[2022] Summing up the scene in 30 seconds

The Plethora of food

Enough appetizers, entrees, and desserts to last a week - which pretty much is what happens with all the leftovers

[2021, 2022] Sometimes it's catered, sometimes it's a potluck — but no matter what, it’s always bomb (thank you aunties!)

[2014] The iconic dessert station - I still can’t believe my mom makes all these from scratch

[2022] Of course, more recently Mom and I have been teaming up to serve Miss Neeta’s homemade mithai along with Miss Neeta’s Ice Cream Parlor

The Program

Can’t have a party without any entertainment!

[2005] Growing up, we got together and learned a choreographed dance every year to perform at Diwali events in the community, and at our parties. Around 2008, a friend put together a break dancing routine, but his glasses flew off his face and across the room mid-performance — and we realized it was probably time to hang up the boots.

[2006, 2022, 2022] When it comes to Antakshari (an Indian karaoke game), you can count on the same energy, and the same familiar faces carrying the vibes from one year to the next

[2022] As we got older, we graduated from choreographed dances and found a few different ways to have fun

The Part where everyone leaves

After all the singing and dancing and the rest of the commotion, we usually hang out and chat on the couches while the parents play teen pati (basically an Indian 3-card poker game) and drink some chai (tea) to end the night. I couldn’t find any pictures of this part, probably because everyone’s too tired by that point in the night. But before we know it, the guests start trickling out, and our month-long Diwali season comes to a close.

But, the party never ends!

As a kid, all I really cared about was hanging out with friends at Diwali, and breaking my personal records for how much dessert I could shove into my mouth. When I grew up though, I learned to appreciate the work and effort it takes to deliver a Diwali extravaganza year after year. But then I realized it’s not about the work at all; it’s about the fun we have combining our community, culture, and family tradition. That’s why in 2020 (our first year in business) when October rolled around and my parents started prepping again, my first instinct was to run a Diwali ice cream party alongside theirs. And now we have new traditions to celebrate our favorite season: new Indian-style ice cream flavors for the menu every year, along with our Diwali sales for you all to celebrate with us!

We hope the day never comes, but if and when Miss Neeta does decide to hang up her party boots, she can rest assured knowing that we’ll keep her Diwali party going, forevermore.


Just for fun!

A few gems that didn't fit in the sections above



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