12 October 2017

Diwali diya or clay oil lamp at the centre of a colourful rangoli

Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights – is almost here.

Although Diwali is celebrated all over the world now, there are still places where it’s hard to find pretty diyas (clay oil lamps) and candles, or the necessary sweets and delicacies.

So why not make them yourself? It’s not hard to find the right ingredients or craft materials, and for those extra special touches there’s very little you can’t buy online these days.

Getting family and friends together to create your own unique DIY Diwali will make it extra special.

Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Clay diyas - oil lamps - being lit to celebrate Diwali

Diyas are the beautiful clay oil lamps that light up homes around the world during Diwali

Delightful DIY diyas

These delicate oil lamps are often made of clay, with a cotton wick dipped in oil or ghee. Placed in the centre of intricate rangolis they look particularly beautiful during Diwali.

Making your own is fun and easy to do.

You’ll need some brushes, paints, sequins, beads, and glue for decoration.

To make the lamps, you can do it the traditional way using clay baked in the oven – most craft shops sell it ready-made in packets.

But you can also use dough made from some basic household items.

Little girl painting a clay diya

Making your own diya means they are unique. Picture: Mike Prince on flickr


  • Plain or wheat flour
  • Food colouring
  • Water
  • Oil (vegetable, coconut or olive all work)
  • Wicks (old cotton fabric or string)

Pre-heat oven to 100 degrees celsius or 200 degrees fahrenheit.

Put flour into a bowl, add water and the food colouring of your choice a few drops at a time, mixing together.

Once the dough holds together you can knee it.

Take a small piece of dough and shape into a bowl. Pinch one side into a small lip to hold the wick.

If you’re using tea lights instead of oil, push one gently into the bottom of your bowl to create a round shape to hold the candle.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until hard. Remove and allow to cool.

Decorate with paint, beads, sequins, and chips of glass.

Once dry, add the wick and a small amount of oil. Your diya is then ready to light.

Colourful candles

You can also make unique candles using everyday objects and a little creativity.

Paraffin or soy wax chips can be bought by the bag from craft stores or online from Amazon, as can ready waxed wicks.

Hollowed out oranges make fragrant burners. You can also use coconut or sea shells, vintage tea or egg cups, and jars that can be painted in different colours.

Warm the wax and pop the wick into your chosen holder. Rest it on a stand or hold in place using tongs. Pour in the wax and allow to set.

If even this seems like too much effort – simply buy a bag of tea lights and pop them into your holders of choice.

Fill your home with beautiful Diwali lights.

A Diwali rangoli created at home

Home made rangoli - traditional decoration made from coloured sand or flowers. Picture: Subharnab Majumdar on flickr

Sweet treats

Food plays an integral role in most celebrations and festivals around the world, and Diwali is no exception.

What immediately springs to mind when you think of this festival of lights is sweets, or mithai. Diwali simply wouldn’t be Diwali without them.

These Indian sweetmeats are a cross between snack, dessert and confectionery.

Base ingredients include chickpea flour, rice flour, semolina, beans, lentils and grains carrots, as well as condensed milk or yoghurt.

Nuts, raisins, spices, rose water and gold or silver leaf can then be added to give each mithai its own distinct look and delicious flavour.

You can eat them throughout the day – either on their own with masala chai, or as part of a bigger meal. And packaged in decorated boxes, they make a lovely gift for friends and family.

You can, of course, buy them from specialist shops, but it’s so much more fun and in the spirit of the festival to make your own.

Coconut ladoo

A tray of tempting coconut ladoo. Picture: Swati123sharma on Wikimedia Commons

Coconut Ladoo


  • 1 cup sweet condensed milk
  • 2 ¾ cups of grated coconut
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder (optional)
  • ¼ cup roasted semolina


Combine 2 ½ cups grated coconut with 1 cup condensed milk and ghee in a saucepan and cook on low heat.

Stirring occasionally, cook until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.

Add cardamom powder and mix well. Allow it to cool slightly.

Lightly grease your palm with ghee and roll the mixture into small balls.

Roll the balls in the remaining grated coconut and semolina. Garnish with almond flakes.

Read more here.

Dish of moong dal halwa

Moong dal halwa, ready to eat. Picture: WeakieFoo on Wikimedia Commons

Moong dal halwa


(240 ml cup used)

  • 1 cup moong dal/yellow dal (lentils)
  • 2 cups of milk (or half water and half milk)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 to 4 tbsp ghee (do not reduce)
  • ? tsp cardamom powder or rose water
  • Few strands of saffron
  • 3 to 4 tbsp water to grind the dal
  • 2 to 3 tbsp Milk to soak saffron

Before you start

Wash and soak the dal (lentils) in lot of water for at least 3 hours.

Add drained dal along with 2 to 3 tbsps water to a blender jar and blend till smooth. Put it aside.


Take a heavy bottom non-stick pan, add ghee and melt.

Add the ground dal and cook on a medium flame stirring constantly.

Warm the milk. Add saffron to 2 tbsps milk and set aside

Cook dal till it becomes crumbly and aromatic while stirring constantly. This takes about 10 mins.

Add warm milk to the dal. Mix well and break up lumps. Cook and stir.

When the milk evaporates, add sugar and mix well.

Add saffron and cardamom powder or rose water. Mix and cook till the halwa begins to leave the sides of the pan.

Add a little ghee. Stir and mash up the lumps well to get a smooth moong dal halwa.

Read more here.  


So, there you have it! Wherever you are in the world, WorldRemit wishes you happy Diwali.

Send money back home this Diwali

What do you make with your family for Diwali? Share your photos, recipes and tips in the comments or on our Facebook page – we’d love to read them.