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Here’s How EHD Stylist, Hina, Designed Her Beautiful And Budget-Friendly Diwali Celebration

Hello EHD Readers! My name is Hina and although most of you have never heard of me before, I have worked alongside the EHD team since 2019 when they were shooting for Em’s second book (mostly as a PA). I continue to work with EHD alum (briefly with Velinda & Grace for VHD, various EHD productions, ongoing as an assistant to Bowser & Erik as well as alongside Veronica where she shoots and I style for other brands).  So I am pretty EHD adjacent even though this is my first time officially contributing to the blog! 🙂

I’m excited to share how I host one of the most special times of the year for me which some of you may already know. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is a prominent celebration observed by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains around the world. Last year on Diwali, I was actually with Emily, Bowser & Sara on set at the Mountain House and was able to share the celebration with them. It was small, but intentional as I brought up some Indian snacks & sweets along with some twinkle lights to make the day special. I usually host an annual Diwali celebration and missed it the last 2 years for obvious pandemic reasons, so I was extra excited to kick it off again this year. I would love to bring you along to share how I weave in Diwali decor throughout my various hosting zones.

So first off, what is Diwali and how is it celebrated? Diwali is celebrated in either October or November each year depending on the lunar calendar. As mentioned above, Diwali is the festival of lights and it celebrates the conquering of good over evil or light over dark. It is celebrated in a variety of ways but one of the most prominent ways is by lighting diyas (clay lamps). This symbolizes illuminating an inner light and protection from darkness. Many houses are adorned by lighting diyas around the home. There are also beautiful displays of rangoli (elaborate patterns made of colored powder, flowers or dyed rice), fireworks/ sparklers, lots of yummy food, and tidying/cleaning the home to invite in Lakshmi- the Goddess of prosperity and good fortune. This all amounts to celebrating the new year (at least for Gujaratis – Gujarat is the region of India my ancestors are from). The new year involves visiting family and friends and exchanging all the wonderful Diwali homemade snacks by each household. Celebrating Diwali helps me feel connected to my family & friends who I’ve lived away from for the past 6 years (I hail from Toronto and my husband is from Sydney, neither of us commonwealth citizens have family in LA let alone America in general).

pic of myself, my little sis, and my mom in the mid-90s

Even though I am not religious, I associate Diwali with cultural belonging and resonate with the concept of remembering there is light even in dark times. The past several years have been heavy with devastating blows around the globe- climate change, social unrest/injustice, and the pandemic being forefront of so many of our lives. It feels even more necessary to honor and hold on to any symbolic or spiritual ritual tied to hope and being reminded of the beauty of the light that still exists especially in darker times. Getting to share this occasion with friends in LA who may or may not know much about the celebration is very special for me.

Now that everyone has a basic concept of what Diwali is and how it is celebrated, I’ll dive into how I planned a Diwali celebration centered around Indian food & Diwali decor that’s easy to execute. I kept things simple, accessible, and beautiful (after all, I am a stylist at the end of the day!).

My first step was creating zones and using a different Diwali decor for each zone: The 3 zones are savoury snacks with florals, sweets a.k.a. mithai with diyas/ candles and a drinks area with rangoli.

Zone #1: The Savoury Table

Diwali food is usually vegetarian, and I’m biased but Indians do vegetarian dishes WELL! My savoury table has a mix of hot food snacks and dry snacks (I’ve seen dry Indian snacks like Bombay mix at Trader Joe’s and depending on what city you live in, you can find similar Indian snacks at local grocery stores). I purchased most of the food from an Indian store and added in a crudités platter and a charcuterie board of dry Indian snacks mixed with some berries and chocolate balls to add pops of freshness and colour. LA admittedly has an amazing flower market that I was able to purchase most of these blooms from, BUT I’d say 35% of these flowers are from Trader Joe’s. Local grocery stores come in clutch when hosting and are a much more accessible way to bring in fresh florals to your home! 

Traditionally, floral garlands are used in Diwali decor, but if you’re short on time like I was, arranging some mini bouquets and sprinkling flower petals around the food added so much colour and beauty, even if it’s not in the traditional sense. Fun fact, marigolds which are often used in floral garlands (and are in season this time of year) are edible, so go ahead and sprinkle them onto the food as a garnish for a little extra pop as well.

Wall Mural | Small Framed Art | Stoneware Pie Dish

Having varying dish shapes and sizes gives more visual interest and dimension to the table especially because most of the food was in a yellow tone. In addition, keeping the dishware colour palette in line with the overall colour theme kept everything feeling cohesive. 

Zone #2: The Sweets Table

Tea Light Holders | Glass Tulip Glasses | Marble Tray

The next zone I focused on was the sweets table. Indian sweets are very rich and indulgent so a little goes a long way! Different types of sweets or mithai are also a great way to incorporate more colour into your food coupled with dynamic flavours of mango, cardamom, rose and different nuts. I made a simple mango mousse out of mango puree, heavy cream, and agar agar powder, but also love incorporating easy-to-acquire sweets like chocolate on my sweets table (Ferrero Rocher is always a hit and the gold wrapping reflects the glow of your diyas or candles so well!). 

This zone is where I included most of my tealight candles. I have a few traditional clay diyas, which require ghee and cotton to light, but truthfully I’m not as skilled as my parents at preparing them. So instead I used them to display some mithai by lining them with mini cupcake liners and placing them in the diyas. This felt like a fun way to incorporate a more traditional element and give it a multi-use purpose all while keeping the lighting process more simple for me! I love how this zone really sparkles and gives the feeling of warmth the holiday season is all about.

White Sun Plate | Gold Plate | Pink Tall Votive

Zone #3: The Drink Table

Side Table | Mirror | Console Table | Wood Tray | Mint Green Thermos | Sconces (vintage but from here)

My final zone was for drinks where I incorporated a floral floating rangoli on a nearby table. I made masala chai ahead of time using Diaspora Co’s chai spice blend (which is truly phenomenal if anyone is interested in an authentic chai flavour by an ethically sourced, queer, WOC-owned brand!) and put it in a thermos to make it easy for self-serving along with some sugar cubes. I love having tropical juices on hand as mixers or for non-alcoholic drink options in mango, passion fruit, or lychee, but in this case, I stuck with some good old Trader Joe’s sparkling lemonade. I decided to do a floating flower rangoli (because I already had the florals on hand) and it contained the flowers for simple cleanup once it’s time to compost. If you’ve ever made rangoli from colored rice, powder or flowers on the floor, you know the process of cleaning up after is not fun and you can be sure to find remnants of it for months on end afterward lol. 

Rangoli can be as simple or intricate as you’d like. You can also easily print a design/stencil from the internet if you’re wanting a bit of guidance on a pattern you’re happy with. I decided to extend my pattern beyond the bowl of floating flowers since I had more space on the table. I placed each Dahlia in a mini pinch bowl with water to keep them fresh and sprinkled flower petals around the whole design to fill any additional negative space. I’m really happy with how it turned out and found the process to be quite meditative. After all, going inwards and reflecting on how we want to live with intention and illuminating that which we keep in the dark is what this time of year is all about! At the end of the night, I gave all my guests leftover flowers to take home as a party favour and will continue to enjoy all the different areas of fresh flowers in my home for the coming days.

I hope this post serves as inspiration to go ahead and celebrate Diwali in a way you love even though you may not have access to the most traditional ways of celebrating, or you just want to forge your own path on how to celebrate such a rich festival. I also hope it enlightened anyone who wasn’t familiar with Diwali and has given you an appreciation of a festival so many hold dear to their hearts. Thanks for coming along for the journey readers. Wishing you all a Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak (Happy New Year!). xo

*Styled by Hina Mistry
**Photos by Veronica Crawford

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Molly
1 year ago

Beautiful. I loved learning more about Diwali!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Molly

so happy you enjoyed learning about Diwali Molly! x

EEEEEEEEK! I was sooooo super excited to read this post! I’m Indian too, but was raised very not traditionally or super culturally, which I kind of regret, and we’re Catholic, so we don’t do any of the cool Hindu holidays, so when I see this kind of stuff, I eat it up. Anyway, back to your post. I love love love all the tiny flower arrangements you did everywhere, and i LOVE your flower rangoli! so so pretty! i have so many little pinch bowls and mini plates (cuz i hunt and sell vintage decor) and now i want to use them for tiny flower arrangements like yours. all the food looks delicious and mouthwatering (those samosas are calling my name!). for your crudites platter, is that coconut chutney in the middle? i would never have thought to put those together. yum. also, your old family picture made me smile…it reminded me of old family pictures and pictures of my sisters and i when we were young. thanks for a great post that made my day!

Hina
1 year ago

Hello! The dip for the crudites platter is the cilantro-chili Bitchin’ Sauce, but now that you mention coconut chutney I’m SO CURIOUS about the pairing and feel like it could work really well! Love that idea! x

K
1 year ago

I LOVED this post! That rangoli is gorgeous! I wish I could have come to this get together 🙂 Thank you for the post, Hina!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  K

thank you K! x

Andrea
1 year ago

A wonderful way to include a time-honored Indian, cultural tradition. Thanks, EHD team!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrea

Thanks Andrea! x

HerselfInDublin
1 year ago

Lovely post, thank you 😀

Hina
1 year ago

so glad you enjoyed it! x

Kelly
1 year ago

Everything is so beautifully presented and arranged. I love the Rangoli, but also find the tiny little arrangements on your little built in shelf to be so special. Thanks for the inspiration! <3

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Kelly

thanks Kelly! x

Sarah
1 year ago

Beautiful and informative. Thanks for sharing. Love the meaning behind everything.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Sarah

thanks Sarah! x

Sally
1 year ago

Really lovely. Usually think that EHD is better when sticks to core competency ie design but really loved this post.
Thank you.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Sally

I’m glad you enjoyed it Sally! x

Jen
1 year ago

Your home and food are so beautiful! I would love to know about the painting behind the sweets table.

Alice
1 year ago
Reply to  Jen

There’s a link under one of the photos.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Jen

Thanks Jen! As Alice mentioned there’s a link under the third photo of the post I believe, the artist is Heleena Tattoos, she has amazing pieces! x

Katy
1 year ago

Agh! So good. I think we need a Hina house tour soon too, because I’m salivating just at the little peek of her style we got here…

Allison
1 year ago
Reply to  Katy

My thought as well!

1 year ago
Reply to  Katy

I agree! I’ve been there and her layout for her very tricky LR is genius!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Katy

thanks Katy! aw that would be fun to do! x

Karina
1 year ago

Beautiful.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Karina

thanks Karina! x

Roberta Davis
1 year ago

Beautiful! My neighbors have hosted an outdoor-in-the-neighborhood park Diwalli celebration through Covid. They light up their house, which is next to the park, and put out a table with all kinds of yummy food, have a fire pit and sparklers for the kids. I’ve enjoyed getting to know them (just moved here 2 years ago).

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

that sounds lovely Roberta! Love that you’ve celebrated Diwali! x

Spero
1 year ago

I love this! It’s gorgeous, the color palate is different from so much of what EHD features but it’s just as well done in execution. It’s neat to see how she was able to have three different zones in what seems to be a very compact area. I also appreciated the series highlighting Jewish holidays in the past and am happy to see these posts continue to expand. I would love to see some more breakdowns of specific foods featured/easy sources

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Spero

thanks Spero! x

Alice
1 year ago

Warm and lovely. I would love to see more posts from you in the future.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Alice

thanks Alice! x

A.B.
1 year ago

Thank you so much for sharing.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  A.B.

truly loved sharing it! x

Kj
1 year ago

Love it all (and envious of your Opalhouse table lamp). Have you seen these Jungalow lamps coming in November and December?

E6C1DB88-D34A-478B-91FB-33F67381CEE6.jpeg
Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Kj

thanks Kj! Its funny you mention the new Jungalow x Opalhouse lamps because I just saw them for the first time yesterday! They are stunning! x

Erin
1 year ago

I am so hungry now 🤣🤣🤣. It looks stunning – what a welcoming sight for your guests!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Erin

thanks Erin! Has it inspired you to get Indian food tonight? haha

Lucy
1 year ago

I love your floral arrangements!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Lucy

thanks Lucy! x

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago

Hina, thank you for illuminating Diwali.
The largest cultural group to immigrate to Australia in the last 5 years is Indian.
I have two close friends who were both born in India – one Hindu and one Catholic.
I love the way you shared the meanjng of Diwali and explained your version of it to fit for your home.
Marigolds all the way!
Luverly!🥰

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

thanks Rusty! I was lucky enough to live in Australia before moving to LA because my husband is an Aussie, Indian culture seemed to be pretty rich down under! x

Natasha
1 year ago

This is so exciting to see! I am also prepping for our annual Diwali bash after a break of a few years and its so nice to see my celebrations and experiences reflected here as well. Here was my flower rangoli decoration from last year, I layered tea lights with marigolds and rose petals.

Screenshot 2022-10-12 112422.png
Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Natasha

Natasha, I LOVE your rangoli with tealights! I’m glad you felt this post reflected your celebrations as well x

1 year ago

Stunning! The only thing I wanted more of is those beautiful hands!!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

should have done a chai pouring moment 😉

Sheila
1 year ago

Thank you, Hina, for sharing this lovely story! I live in SoCal and have friends from India so I’ve been lucky to have been invited to and always captivated by Diwali celebrations but have never thought of decorating my own home for the holiday. I’m now making a cup of chai to sip while I peruse my Indian cookbooks to plan a menu!
And another vote for sharing more of your beautiful home. That wall mural is such a stunning backdrop for your sweets buffet, I’d love to see the rest of the room!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Sheila

thanks Sheila! I’m sure you’ll find some great recipes x

Annie K.
1 year ago

This is so incredibly beautiful! And so much work! I’m really struck by how this sort of hosting is the same as putting together an interactive, edible arts installation. The time, creativity, logistics lodged firmly in a time limited format – Wow.
I want to live at the sweets counter.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Annie K.

thanks so much Annie! x

Abby
1 year ago

Any suggestions for a hostess gift for a Diwali party? I have been invited and am very excited. Flowers? Candle? Too on the nose?

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Abby

Have fun at the Diwali party you’re attending Abby! I say any thoughtful gift is a great gift! Who wouldn’t love flowers or candles? x

Julie
1 year ago

I loved learning about Diwali. And your rangoli was beautiful! Looks like it was a fun party. Thank you so much for sharing! And I second (or third) the house tour! 🙂

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Julie

thanks Julie! x

Vera
1 year ago

Love this, thank you so much for sharing Hina!
YES home tour please!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Vera

thanks Vera! a house tour would be fun to share! x

Reanna
1 year ago

Love this post! The colors are gorgeous!! And now I want to see more of your home decor…

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Reanna

thanks Reanna! x

Jeanne
1 year ago

Indian vegetarian food is sooo good. It has so much depth. Love learning about different cultures and religions! Looking forward to more of your posts!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanne

thanks Jeanne! I’d love to do more posts! x

Kat
1 year ago

Yes! More of this please (and more of Hina, her style is clearly amazing)! What a beautiful AND informative post.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat

thanks so much Kat! x

Ami
1 year ago

I am South Asian and have been a fan of EH for years so this post was so exciting. I love your Diwali decor and never thought of doing flower rangolis…much less mess than the sand ones! Thank you so much for the fun tips. I look forward to reading more blog posts by you!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Ami

thanks so much Ami! floral rangoli is a game changer for avoiding the mess! x

Suzanne
1 year ago

This is beautiful! I’ve had the privilege to attend a Diwali celebration once. It’s such a lovely holiday. Thank you so much for sharing these easy ways to celebrate this tradition.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzanne

thats awesome Suzanne! and thank you! x

Nora
1 year ago

Aw, I loved seeing this post – hope to see more from you in future, Hina! I love your colour palette and your styling is gorgeous. The food looks delectable, too – and thanks for mentioning Diaspora Co.’s chai masala mix, I’m generally on the hunt for a good (ideally cardamom-heavy) masala chai 🙂 Some great styling and hosting tips here, and also I love how you described the meaning of Diwali…the idea of light shining out from the darkness is an important one to me, too. Really enjoyed this post, and hope EHD will continue to show more from Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Jewish (and other) holiday traditions. Happy Diwali and saal mubarak to you too – and hello from a fellow South Asian expatriate from Toronto.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Nora

thanks so much Nora! Diaspora Co. spices in general are super quality, so glad you enjoyed the post, always love connecting with fellow Torontonians! x

Kate
1 year ago

Happy Diwali & Saal Mubarak! Thank you so much for this lovely & helpful post!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate

thank you Kate! x

Elaine
1 year ago

This post was a joy of light and colour, I loved it! And I echo others that a home tour is definitely needed…so many sneaky peaks that you just have to follow through with a tour 🤞

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Elaine

thanks Elaine! I’m sure you can tell I love colour so much! haha

MJ
1 year ago

This is so gorgeous! I loved the fresh perspective you bring. So fun to learn about Diwali and so fun to see your home! Can we see more of it??

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  MJ

thanks MJ! Hopefully I can share more in a future post! 🙂

1 year ago

So gorgeous!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Ellen

thanks Ellen! x

Stacey
1 year ago

Thank you for sharing this holiday with us! Our family is expanding to include a new son in law and grandson who are Sikh, so it was timely and a nice way to learn a bit more about Diwali.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Stacey

Love that your family is expanding Stacey and you get to share another culture with them, thats so special! x

Abby
1 year ago

This is all so beautiful! Thank you for sharing it with us. I’m so inspired to use florals in new ways, and all of the food looks amazing and delicious. And finally, your writing is really good — I hope we hear more from you!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Abby

thank you so much Abby, I appreciate the love! x

Sahaja
1 year ago

SO loved seeing this on the blog!! I did share my rangoli and marigold garlands and lights on my front porch through the EHD app last year, and so happy to see your celebration this year on the blog!! Thank you, Hina for sharing and wishing you all the joy and light in the new year. When we’re far from family, it’s sometimes hard to make these traditional holidays come to life – but you did a wonderful job. Looking forward to seeing more from you on the blog, too! Happy Diwali!

Sahaja
1 year ago

Oh! One more thing! I was able to find reusable marigold garlands on Etsy a few years ago, which then I can bring out year after year. If someone is out there with kids and celebrates Diwali or is hosting a Diwali celebration – while I was doing rangoli, my son and our friends and neighbors and their kids all decorated our front walk with sidewalk chalk. Might not be traditional, but it was fun way to get everyone involved!! LOVED seeing your flower rangoli – why have I never thought of that??!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Sahaja

Thank you so much Sahaja! I wasnt able to find the re-usable marigold garlands at my local Indian store, but they are so great at making an impact! Also love the sidewalk chalk rangoli, Happy Diwali to you and your fam! x

SARAH
1 year ago

Aw thanks for sharing. When I saw your childhood pic I was like “ DAT ME!” I’m a Southern Californian South Indian. I’ve been reading this blog for like a decade so it was a pleasant surprise. Thank you for sharing and EHD for continuing the to expand voices.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  SARAH

Thanks Sarah! It’s special when we see ourselves reflected in the media we are inspired by! X

RuthAnn
1 year ago

this was such a great post! Information, beauty, creative ideas!! And then to discover Diaspora spice!! (chef’s kiss) For those of us who are not into white/beach/california look, this was a treat for the eyes, and the writing was so good!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  RuthAnn

thanks RuthAnn! Hope you get a chance to try any of the Diaspora Co. spices, they’re great quality and treat their farmers with the respect they deserve! x

Addie
1 year ago

I’m enjoying the wider variety of holiday celebration posts from more cultures! This whole post is beautiful! I appreciate the vibrant colors and learning more about Diwali.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Addie

thanks Addie! I also love learning about different cultures and traditions, glad you enjoyed the post! x

Diane
1 year ago

Hina, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful home and thoughtful celebration with us. And thank you too for engaging in the comments; EHD readers do a lovely job of generating interesting conversation all on their own but it’s especially enjoyable when the author of the post chooses to chime in as well. Your words are fresh and lively, and draw me into your story even more than before. I appreciate the time and energy you clearly poured into this effort.

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane

thank you so much Diane! I really appreciate having the opportunity to share on this blog and have been so fortunate to have such lovely and supportive comments, truly thankful! x

Sara M
1 year ago

Hina, what a joy to meet you. Thank you for sharing Diwali with us and for the creative and beautiful hosting. Please contribute more here. Your voice is so lovely and unique.

Also, I’m going to eat marigolds now or at minimum use them for food scapes. So so beautiful in your Rangoli and everywhere!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Sara M

thank you Sara! I did try a marigold petal myself, it was a bit bitter haha, so use sparingly x

HH
1 year ago

More Hina please! Lovely writing, lovely styling, and lovely peeks at the decor of your home. I also enjoyed learning more about Diwali.
Hina – if you’re still reading the comments, where are the pink taper candles from? It might be a trick of the lighting, but they seem to have a sheen to them. Thanks!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  HH

thank you so much! x the pink taper candles are from H&M home! 🙂

Non-Desi South Asian Studies major
1 year ago

Omg that floating flower Rangoli is EVERYTHING. Happy Deepavali!!!

Hina
1 year ago

Happy Diwali! x

Chantal
1 year ago

This is so interesting and beautiful! Thank you for sharing your amazing traditions!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Chantal

thanks Chantal! x

Mariele
1 year ago

My boyfriend is Indian, and while he’s not remotely traditional, it was so nice to see this post on EHD. You did a lovely job, and I’m going to see how much of this I can incorporate into our Fall decor. 🙂 I’d love to see more posts from you, thank you!

Hina
1 year ago
Reply to  Mariele

you can definitely weave Diwali into Fall decor, what a great idea Mariele! x