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