"Festival Is About Family”, Says Chef Vikas Khanna
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After two years, the 51-year-old Michelin-star chef, novelist, filmmaker, and philanthropist, Vikas Khanna returns to India with his mother. Their relief at being reunited is apparent, but so is a hint of sadness. The sister of Vikas and the daughter of Bindu, fashion designer Radhika Khanna, lost tragically from lupus, an autoimmune disease, seven months ago in a hospital in New York. Thus, the holiday season will not be altogether happy for Vikas and Bindu this year. But they are determined to make the most of it, they assert as they offer their first in-depth interview since her passing to HT Brunch. They feel there is still time to atone for past transgressions, such as thinking that a job comes before family. 

Image credit: HT Brunch

 As the holiday season progresses, Vikas shares with HT Brunch about his last Diwali spent with his sister. " I had my most wonderful Diwali that year. We were filled with apprehension. However, a hand gripped mine, providing me the support I required. I performed the pooja at the medical centre with Radhika. Even though she was forbidden to eat, I nevertheless prepared the Diwali dishes our grandma use to make". I wanted her to be joyful when she saw the thali. I prayed to God that night before I left her, saying, "God, I'm good with this type of Diwali, but please don't take her from me. 

Their earlier Diwali celebrations had been focused on material goods, such as new clothing, freshly painted homes, and so on. Bindu relates that Biji, Vikas's grandmother, prepared delicious food for Diwali. "She would start by making sooji halwa, perform the puja, gather everyone, and give out gifts. To balance off the weight of the day's meals and desserts, she would prepare matar wale chawal at night. Because Radhika was given so much money by everyone, she enjoyed this festival a lot. 

Vikas adds, "But today it's about family, about individuals. "Personality matters most. You must spend time with your loved ones and pay tribute to those who have passed away”. 

I adore all festivals, including Bihu, Pongal, Holi, Diwali, and the Hornbill Festival. Family rejuvenation and new beginnings are symbolised by festivals. They are an excellent means of uniting individuals, claims Vikas. Radhika's favourite holiday, though, was Diwali, according to Bindu and Vikas. "She frequently urged me to take time off from work to hang out with her. According to her, nothing can halt the globe, recalls Vikas. "We should never forget our history and traditions. To make sure that everyone can enjoy festivals, I undertake a number of projects. 

According to HT Brunch, Vikas would also build a new eatery in New York City the following year. " Radhika too had a dream of opening this restaurant. And that's what I'm striving for," says Vikas. "She had always questioned why Indian restaurants don't have lengthy lines of patrons waiting for tables, like the other restaurants in the city. 

Well, we wish Vikas and his mother a joyous and loving celebration. Also wish you all a happy and safe Diwali.