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Diwali Gifting: Mithai Vs Chocolates

It’s Diwali time again. Diwali in India is the “mother” of all festivities also termed as the festival of lights. Everyone gets into a gifting frenzy. The newspaper pages double up with the advertisements. People hit the market scouting for the perfect gift. While Mithai has continued to dominate the Diwali gifting market many new options have also emerged like chocolates, cookies, cakes, fruit juices, dry fruits to name a few. So which makes the best options as a Diwali gift?

Read What makes Jaipur one of the best places to celebrate Diwali in Jaipur?

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jaipur diwali lighting decoration ganpati plaza

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Mithai or Traditional Indian sweets

While we have many new gifting ideas something never changes like the box of Indian sweets called “Mithai” in Hindi. It is an age-old practice to gift family, friends, employees, business associates, and customers on Diwali. Sweets have always been a part of the Indian culture signaling happy and joyous occasions and a sweet box is the most popular thing to gift. There is a huge variety to choose from in the market and every region has its own specialty. There’s one for every budget.

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In many parts of  India, you are never far from a sweet shop; you can find it in every nook and corner.

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On the flip side, the traditional sweet shops have become infamous for selling spurious quality during the festive season. A lot of these shops prepare sweets 2-3 weeks before the festive season and put them in a cold storage since the manufacturing cannot keep pace with the demand. Adulteration too is a big menace. Indian sweets have a short shelf life lasting anywhere from 2-3 days to a week. Because of this many people started exploring other options.

Chocolates

Sensing a huge opportunity in the sweet market, Cadbury’s, a multinational chocolate brand which was acquired by Mondelez a few years ago, made a shift in its marketing plans to target the Mithai buyers with a campaign targeting adults. It was called “Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye” (Let’s have something sweet). The idea was to get everyone to eat chocolates and not just kids. The chocolate companies created advertisements to target the Diwali gifting market since it is the biggest gifting occasion in India.

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You can find chocolate boxes to suit every budget starting from Rs. 100 to a few thousand Rupees. People looking for exclusivity have an option of premium international brands or homemade gourmet chocolates. Many chocolatiers in Jaipur generate whooping business during the festive season despite the fact they run from home & rely on business through word of mouth publicity.

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Is chocolate really a great alternative to counter the spurious Mithai quality? A leading chocolate maker was involved in a court case & controversy a few years ago. Their chocolates were infested with worms. It took years to restore the trust of customers. It is not necessary that commercial chocolates produced in industrial plants offer a better alternative.

Have you ever wondered chocolate producers often use hydrogenated oil instead of cocoa butter, the main ingredient of a chocolate? Palm oil is a common substitute for cocoa butter and has a harmful effect on our health. It is a trans fat and raises LDL and cholesterol. Most chocolate manufacturers add emulsifiers & artificial flavors to cut the manufacturing processes and costs.

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Dry Fruits

Assorted dry fruit gift boxes are one of the most popular festive gifting options. Many people feel that the sheer number of Mithai boxes one receives in a short festive period makes it difficult to consume the same and therefore people switched to gifting dry fruit packs in spite of it being expensive. One of the biggest advantages is that it is considered as a premium gift and liked by all.

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Assorted Platter is a great savior because it includes a variety of things like cookies, fruit juices, savories, chocolates, sweets to name a few. On a flip side, it has mostly packaged food. There is a set of people who choose processed food over Mithai because they feel it denotes standard and has a fixed price so no one doubts the quality & value of a gift. The biggest benefit of the assorted platter is you can add-on things if you want to increase the value of the gift which is not possible if you are only gifting one item.

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Which is the best Diwali gift among all these? 

The elderly will never enjoy a box of chocolate. Today’s generation is an exception because they grew up eating chocolates. So the key is to match the profile of a person with the gift.

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Chocolates are most preferred among kids and youth; Mithai among the old and elderly. An assorted gift platter which includes a variety of things for everyone is a great Diwali gift for the family. Assorted dry fruit pack is a good option for diabetics and people who dislike sweets in any form. Cookies and fruit juices are yet not popular and are best reserved for the assorted platter.

If you already know someone’s preference you have the answer!

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While shopping for Diwali gifts, I asked a popular seller in Jaipur – Is Mithai more popular or the new age options? He said Mithai will continue to be popular for years.

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Does fancy gifting options evoke the same festive feelings that a traditional Mithai does on Diwali?

In my opinion, strong associations get formed over a time. The way Santa Claus is associated with gifts so is Diwali with sweets. One can say these are age-old practices and hard to break off.

I prefer to stay away from the traditional sweets sold in the market during the festive season and prefer home-made ones which are better in every way. There are few enterprises who make Mithai on order in Jaipur. They are a good alternative to the commercial sweet shops & deliver consistent taste & quality, every time. Personally, I don’t think chocolates are symbolic to the “festival of lights”. It just does not evoke a feeling of festivity. But I guess we all have our own choices.

What will be your preferred Diwali gift? According to you, what elicits a festive feeling?

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Read What makes Jaipur one of the best places to celebrate Diwali in Jaipur?

 

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100 thoughts on “Diwali Gifting: Mithai Vs Chocolates

  1. Diwali is mithai especially the home made ones . Sadly my family is so off holiday eating that the best gift is dry fruit that I can use all year long . It is an impersonal generic gift and I don’t even know who gave me which badam . But I remember Diwali as long as the dry fruit last ! Happy Diwali ARV to you and yours . May it be mithai filled ( with pure ghee and pure love )

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Sunita for Diwali greetings and Mithai! Frankly, it is an overdose. Luckily, this year I’m not attending too many Diwali parties. Dry fruits are definitely a good alternative and I love them too! I don’t think dry fruit is impersonal rather it is a thoughtful choice. It reminds me of the dry fruit Mithai of Mumbai. It tastes amazing! Do you like it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm the dry fruit mithai of Mumbai are sinful ! Many of them are exquisitely crafted and are hard to resist . And mistakenly they are sold as mithai for diabetics which makes them ‘ acceptable ‘ …. (I’m not diabetic though)

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I agree that they are one of the best around. Even though we have many sweet shops selling dry fruit mithai but nothing comes close to the one that you can find in Mumbai. I’m not sure if it can be called Mithai for diabetics unless you are using sugar substitutes.

        Do you have any recommendations for shops making these?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great article at the right time. Well explained all possible options… But for me, dry fruits anytime! I am not a big fan of sweets other than Mangalore’s famous Taj Mahal halva! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Taj Mahal Halva? wow! I have never heard about it before! Had you not mentioned it, I would have assumed its from Agra! LoL! ‘m curious on Mangalore’s connection with Taj Mahal!

      I agree Raj that dry fruits are one of the most cherished diwali gift.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ha..ha.. you don’t know which Taj Mahal I am talking about. Ask any Mangalorean about Taj Mahal, they will immediately start drooling… Not because of work of Shahajahan… but about the Halva! 😀 We have a very famous old restaurant and a sweet shop called “Taj Mahal” and I don’t think anyone visiting Mangalore has left visiting here.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. wow! Thanks for leading me to one of the must do things in Mangalore. Someday, I’ll eat this “Taj Mahal”! Have you written a Mangalore guide on your blog, Raj?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love when the sweets and chocolates come in beautiful boxes, decorated tin cans etc. They add class to your gifts. The Lindt chocolate from Switzerland is well known here in Canada. Thanks for also discussing health issues, Arv!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess a beautifully decorated box conveys happiness, in any case, a gift definitely uplifts our spirit! I agree that Lindt is a well known chocolate. In India, it’s a different scenario because it being expensive is well known only among a certain section of society. Do you enjoy chocolates?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. What a balanced post on gifting! I like the way you have pointed out the cons of each gift! While mithai can never go out despite all the warnings about too much sugar and sugarless more harmful than the real ones and spurious khoya… a real gift is the one, which is thoughtful, which comes from heart and not inspired from the commercialisation of this festival.
    Wishing you and all the readers a very Happy and Safe Diwali.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are right the festivity is about all about love and celebration with friends & family. It is the thought that counts. Unfortunately, the lure of money makes people use unfair means. Thank you for thr wishes. Happy Diwali to you and your family 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sadly, that’s my main memory of Diwali – feeling like I was in a war zone with the constant crackers(ordinance) going off. The mithai made up for it though. I’ll take burfi and laddoos over chocolate anytime!^)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have never gifted anyone on Diwali, probably because its not the topmost festival in my part of the country. However, if I do maybe I will go with fruits and dry fruits and would prefer receiving the same. Though Diwali is synonymous with sweets 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I can understand, Neel. We all have different backgrounds, customs and traditions. People in Bangalore have informed me that it is just another day in their city unlike Jaipur where it is celebrated with enthusiasm. In Mumbai, Ganesh Chaturthi is a bigger festival. So which is the most important festival in your hometown?
      Your preference for dry fruit is because of healthy diet?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Bangalore is a robotic city, like I keep saying 😀
        However people do colourful rangolis and light diyas.
        As a bengali, for me Durga Puja is the most important and biggest festival. Again coming from Meghalaya, Christmas is very important too. We have always enjoyed celebrating Christmas too mostly by putting up a star and decorating the Christmas tree.
        Dry fruits is for it being more healthy and also because of its longer shelf life 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I wasn’t aware that you are a Bengali. I thought you are from Meghalaya. Both these reasons are valid for dry fruits, Neel. I guess Bangalore tends to celebrate Christmas and New year with all its spirit, after all it is a multicultural and cosmopolitan city.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I am a Bengali but born and brought up in Meghalaya with my parents and grand parents settled there. So, I identify myself more with Meghalaya 🙂
        Meghalaya has a large population of bengalis, assamese, and nepalis outside the native tribes.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Diwali is all about mithai- in my opinion. Chocolates can be eaten anytime of the year. Homemade Diwali snacks and sweets set a beautiful tone for Diwali in homes.
    Great photos as always, Arv!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Who can provide a better opinion than you? It is all about Mithai and especially the home-made ones. They really set the festive spirits. In old days, before commercialization became driving force people would prepare sweets at home. So what do you prepare for Diwali, Sandhya?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I feel that home-made sweets really set up the mood for the festival. That’s an age-old tradition that most of us have followed. Anything special that you make for Diwali?
        Diwali this year was a bit subdued. What about you?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Certainly, Indian sweets are bad for the waistline as they are calorie bomb! They are mood uplifters! I always watch out when eat one as I have to compensate by either working out extra or reduce my diet! 🙂

      Is it easy to find them in Singapore? May be in little India?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, Indian Diwali is incomplete with mithai and sweets and coming from Calcutta, famous for its sweets and curds and other savouries, I can easily relate to this post…..great to know about some of the famous sweets of Jaipur….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Certainly, there are many unique Mithai that originates from Kolkata. Probably, you can write about Diwali in your city. People tell me that Kolkata is all about Durgapuja and Diwali is not that exciting!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I will try, thanks….Diwali excitement has gone a little down side throughout the country because of stricter rules imposed by the highest court of the country as you know already, but otherwise Diwali is a glittering affair in a prominent metro city like Calcutta. Maybe one day you can spend Diwali here 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. There is just one Indian chocolate maker otherwise the market is dominated by multinational companies. Dry fruit is definitely healthier and better. Dark chocolate in India is not very popular, though I do enjoy the ones with 70% plus category. Did you taste Indian sweets during your trip?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cornelia, A lot of westerners don’t like Indian sweets because it is “extra” sweet. The same goes for chocolates made in India, they are far more sweeter than the ones made in Europe. I gues that has to do with how most Indians prefer! I generally don’t like so much sugar so I ‘m a bit selective about brands or shops in either case.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Bhavana, I can understand. Festivity in India is all about family and friends which is difficult to replicate in Europe. I hope you get to travel back to your folks in India, soon! Hope you guys are doing great!

      Liked by 1 person

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