Get set for the glow show

From gift ideas to eco-friendly celebrations, we round up the top trends this season and look at how you can sneak them into your celebrations.

And we pay special attention to those yet to emerge from the dark shadows of the global economic downturn — even though Indians are expected to spend more this Diwali following the wave of optimism sweeping world markets (a survey by online payment solution provider PayPal found that Indians will spend 45 per cent more online this festive season than last year).

CELEBRATING

East meets west

Fusion really isn’t such a bad word this Diwali. More than ever, fashionistas everywhere are opting to tread the fine line between traditional and contemporary or even Western wear. In Mumbai and Delhi, the LBD has long been a festive staple, and here in Bangalore, we’re readying to follow suit.

If you can’t stomach the idea of something so obviously alien to our culture, though, but still want to be on trend and in step with the times, try replacing your churidars with jewelled tights and choose kurtas that are cut like Western tunics instead.
Dark colours are all the rage, and while red is a popular colour this time of year, almost everyone will go for it, so simply go with what suits you. And don’t be afraid of a fitted sari — it’s easy, comfortable and hassle free.

Finally, if you’re in doubt about what to do with your make-up, a smoky eye is both trendy and will disguise a lack of sleep, while light lips will keep you looking fresh.

For the man looking to step out looking smart, try a long kurta, preferably one that isn’t too embellished, and team it with churidar pants with a pair of elegant sandals. Nothing hides the Indian masala stomach like a knee-length kurta, so if you’re rather well endowed in the abdominal area, you know what to do!

Diya kyon na jale

With all the big international brands vying for a piece of your wallet, there are some cool home décor ideas from the likes of French brand Sia Home Fashion, for instance, which has rolled out its latest Diwali collection, with candles, chandeliers, lamp shades and a range of artificial flowers.
Retailers such as Hindware Home Retail and Magpie both have a slew of diyas in non-traditional materials such as glass and crystal, or simply embellished with mirrors and zari work. Better yet, use the long weekend to involve the kids and make your own!

The planet pleaser

With carbon credits the raging hot topic at dinner parties across the city, ecologistas everywhere will applaud any efforts to make this a greener Diwali.
Choose eco-friendly fireworks such as the Fake Note Burst, which throws out nearly hundred fake Rs 500 notes in the air, much to the surprise of onlookers. Some 30 different products are available across the city and have proved popular with a significant percentage of forward-thinking Bangalore residents.

These not only make for safe sparkles and emit pleasant colours, but the sound they produce is below permissible decibel levels, too.

Instead of shop-bought streamers, dig out all your dupattas and drape them around your home instead, knotted end to end. Steer clear of icky plastic lanterns and make your own from paper; the kids will have something to do and your decorations will be quite unlike anyone else’s. Try using banana leaves instead of plates  — you will both save with washing up and hark back to more traditional times.

And stay with earthen diyas instead of fancy sequinned candles.

On the gift front, head to Mother Earth in Domlur, which offers a range of such delights as organic dals and tiger-printed bed linen, while Haathi Chaap (elephantpoopaper.com) retails a range of pretty, innovative products such as roll-up board games made from cloth and non-smelly notebooks made from elephant dung.
Finally, rather than making your sweet gestures Belgian ozone-burners, why not choose desi mithai? Both have exactly the same effect on the hips but vastly different impacts on the planet.

Buy into convenience


The best thing to do at a time like this, if the family is set to descend on you for Sunday lunch tomorrow, is simply head down to your favourite restaurant and order a takeaway. Better yet, plan a little by ringing round to two or three different places and see what they can give you for your budget.
Most places will deliver, but remember that the Diwali rush (nowadays, nobody plans weeks in advance like Grandma used to) means you may not get what you want when you want it, so be prepared to compromise or go elsewhere.
With sweets, too, now isn’t the time to think you can start cooking — you’ll only tire yourself out and irritate the entire family. Head to the shops instead and put your feet up the rest of the time; that way you can head back to work rested and relaxed, while your colleagues are all tired out from the endless cooking, hosting, cleaning and partying.  

GIFTS

Agoraphobics anonymous


Internet addicts who cannot bear to leave the comfort of their wonderfully wired homes in this technologically forward metropolis recommend going online to get your Diwali shopping done — if you’ve left it this late, that is. Infibeam.com retails motichoor laddoos and reusable lanterns from Rs 500 upwards while Diwalistore.com has everything from new washing machines and jewellery gift vouchers to mixed hampers of dry fruits, flowers and other crowd pleasers. As far as possible, try and use a search engine that compares deals across sites so you can both maximise your purchasing power and save time.

Best of all, though, with most of these sites offering 24-hour delivery, these are a great way to ensure a well-chosen gift reaches family members anywhere across the land right on time — without making you look as if you couldn’t get your act together again.

It’s a coin, it’s a bar, it’s both

One option for the cash-strapped buyer seeking investment-grade metals but turned off by the price of gold is to downgrade to silver. Just because you’ve always given your sisters gold doesn’t mean you need to this year, too — especially if you’re still catching flies on the unemployment block. In Ahmedabad, jewellers Ghanshyam Soni have come up with a creative solution: silver bars designed to resemble currency notes of Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs1,000 denominations. Some of these carry images of the deities Lakshmi or Ganesha, but for the secular minded, the father of the nation is a popular choice, too.

The finest asset

Art has become a popular gift in recent times, but more than most, this is an option fraught with problems. Not everyone appreciates derivative pop art, while a purple Ganesha will likely clash horribly with your friend’s carefully matched interiors. Besides, art is so deeply personal that what moves one person to tears could well leave another stone cold.

Nevertheless, if you’re convinced you know your friend well enough to bring some colour into his life, check out the Art for Diwali collection of paintings and sculpture at redearthindia.com. Some 30-odd festive-themed works are on sale from Rs 2,800 to about Rs 3,00,000.

Shiny budget-busters

Jewellery is always popular, especially for women, but the Rs 16,000-plus prices have put many punters off buying pretty light-reflecting geegaws this Diwali. If you don’t think you could be one of them, it is worth looking at festive offers of 100 per cent off making charges on diamond jewellery and 50 per cent off on gold jewellery and coins. Some brands like Reliance Jewellery have an assortment of some 10,000 designs ranging from Rajkot antique and Kolkata filigree to fine contemporary styles.

FITNESS FIRST

The skinny on Diwali sweets

Fitness guru Rujuta Diwekar, now well known for her success with Kareena Kapoor and Anil Ambani, says you can safely eat your Diwali sweets without getting fat. Don’t try declaring you’re on a diet or faking a tummy upset — you’ll only end up stuck at home feeling sorry for yourself or worse, watching other people stuff their faces as you sulk in a corner.

“All you have to do is tell your best friend, your body, that you will be eating more than usual for Diwali,” she writes in her book Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight. “Your body likes being taken into confidence (who doesn’t), and it responds to this communication by increasing your metabolic rate, secreting more digestive juices, enzymes, and sending more blood flow to your stomach. So now your mind and body are both prepared for the onslaught of food and the calories that come with it. Because you have not fooled your body into believing that you will not be eating, and then loaded or stuffed your mouth last minute (completely catching the body unaware and disrupting its normal metabolism), your body will reward you by not storing the excess calories as fat.” Guilt-free enjoyment is the best way forward, she says — so long as you don’t think it’s a free pass for life.

The gift of loss

In these size-zero times, one sure-fire success is the weight-loss voucher, a gift that benefits both giver and receiver — although the dividends usually only come in after a few months. Considering the cost of gym fees, a membership to a great gym could be a popular choice at a time when your partner’s trying to make the most of her recession-struck budget. But beware the minefield that is implying a woman — or man — is fat. If it’s not something they have expressed discomfort with and said they would like to change, don’t even think about one of these size-sensitive gifts. It’d make for a very unhappy Diwali indeed.

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