Traditional vs Modern Sweets: What Does Guwahati Prefer This Diwali?
Starting with Durga Puja followed by Lakshmi Puja and now with Diwali and Kali Puja coming up October can be termed as the official festive month of the year.
Diwali, the festival of lights that signifies the triumph of good over evil, is celebrated across India and the world. It is the time of the year when people clean their houses, decorate them with lights, diyas and rangolis, and distribute sweets amongst their family and friends. And like they say no celebration is complete without sweets, so is the case with Diwali.
Traditionally people used to prepare sweets at home and share it with their loved ones but eventually due to change in our lifestyle and preferences, people started distributing purchased sweets from sweet shops.
And now in 2019 people’s demand for sweets are changing. While some people are bored of the traditional sweets, others look for new options due to health restrictions and awareness.
No doubt the charm of traditional Indian sweets is undeniable but it seems the new sweet options have a room in people’s festive palates.
People have been open to adopt new options which include chocolates; dry fruit based desserts, cookies, dessert jars, granola bars and more.
G Plus spoke to a few sweet shop owners and bakers/dessert makers about their take on the current Diwali sweet market in Guwahati. With the Diwali spirit already consuming the city and right ahead of the last weekend before the end of the festival the sweet shop owners have claimed that they are not making as much profit this year as compared to the previous years while some disagree. They’ve claimed that the availability of a large variety of dry fruits and bakery items in the market has taken away the market share of traditional sweets.
Gopal Jalan, owner of JB’s told G Plus, “During festivals, people look for dry and fancy sweet items which have a long shelf life. So we prefer making those sweets which would last for at least a week or ten days. Earlier, people used to mostly gift sweets but in recent years, people prefer dry fruits.”
He further added that the purchase of sweets also depends on the size of the family and taste preferences. Five years ago, the demand for sweets was more than what it is today. In fact, earlier we used to even increase our manpower during Diwali which is not the case now.
Pradeep Pareek, owner of Bhartiya Jalpan, one of the oldest sweet shops in town said, “We are not involved much in the gifting part. We believe in making and selling traditional sweets. The demand has definitely declined since the past five to 10 years as more people are now opting for dry fruits.”
However, the owner of Makhan Bhog, Dhruv Arya said, “What we have observed over the years is that the demand of sweets is definitely going up, particularly with the corporate culture coming in rather than the individual customer the demand is more from the corporate houses.” Speaking about the changing demands of sweets, he said, “The demand for sweets will go down if we do not keep up with the requirements of people. We have to keep ourselves updated. Earlier we didn't used to make sugar-free sweets but with the increasing demand we also serve those now.”
Since a large number of customers are becoming health conscious, there has been a change in the pattern of sweet consumption. While some traditional sweets have a low shelf life, the sale of substitute items has witnessed a surge.
Talking to home bakers and dessert makers we got to know that the city is being positive about the upcoming dessert options and have been willing to try them. With the growing awareness of health issues and restrictions people are getting more involved and concerned about what they consume and the ingredients involved in it.
Vedika Kejriwal, owner of Cut The Damn Cake, a cloud-based bakery said, “During Diwali, people tend to distribute the sweets or pass on them to others rather than consuming it. So we try to come up with options that they would enjoy consuming. Sweets will always be there but people are now also looking for other options apart from the traditional sweets.”
Adding she said, customers are now getting involved in the sweet packages they would buy and some even look for customized options according to preferences.
Another baker, Neha Jalan, owner of Peace of Pie said, “I strongly believe that people are now opting for different options apart from the traditional sweets because there is an abundant of it during the festivals. Customized boxes or dessert boxes look very effortful and makes an impression that a person has made an effort to get it.”
She added, people look for healthy sugar-free options, gluten-free and even maida-free options in our desserts which are not always found in sweet shops.
Both the bakers agreed that since the past year, the demand for their desserts have increased and people are open to new dessert gifting options.
Based on a poll conducted by G Plus on the sweets/dessert preferences for Diwali, 76% people voted for traditional Indian sweets i.e. Mithai while 24% opted for the new sweet options like baked desserts/ chocolates/healthy desserts and others. In addition, some readers even said that they would prefer homemade sweets over any packaged sweet, while some said they prefer chocolates over sweets, and some stated that they would prefer ‘Soan papdi for meme’s sake.’
Laddoos will also always stay special in our hearts, but we can always have a cupcake or two during special occasions.