Image via restaurant materials.
By Christopher Riley, contributor
Chai Pani, chef Meherwan Irani’s downtown Decatur mainstay for “mind-blasting” Indian street food, is throwing its annual Diwali party to celebrate the yearly Hindu festival of lights tonight. Its sister restaurant inside Ponce City Market — grill-heavy Indian counter-serve spot Botiwalla — will also be celebrating the holiday.
The two locations’ Diwali Mela (Mela being the Hindi word for a fair or a festival) will feature traditional lighted oil lamps, flowers imported from India, complimentary snacks (both savory and sweet), cocktail specials, gift bags, firecrackers, onsite henna body art, and rangoli (lively, ornamental floor decorations typically created using brightly colored powders), according to restaurant materials. Both locations’ regular menus (plus daily specials) will be available a la carte for those looking for something a bit heartier than the light bites being handed out on the house.
The Wednesday of the event, Chai Pani’s weekday lunch hours will proceed as normal from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with no additional activities planned until dinner. Diwali festivities will kick off when the restaurant’s dinner service begins at 5:30 and will last until they close up shop at 9:30 p.m. While Botiwalla remains open between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. every Wednesday, their festivities will start at 5:30 in tandem with the Decatur location.
While Hindu in origin, Diwali has spread through the Desi diaspora and is now celebrated around the world every Nov. 7 as an emblem of the culture of the Indian subcontinent. No reservations or advance tickets are required to attend the event at either location. However, tickets may be purchased on a first-come-first-serve basis for 5-count plates from the popular walk-up counter in Chai Pani’s lobby doling out pani puri — bite-size shells of fried bread, filled with chickpea and potato, then dipped in both red and green chutneys. Said the company’s publicist: “Guests tend to eat multiple plates.”
Chai Pani is located at 406 W Ponce de Leon Ave. in Decatur. Botiwalla is located inside Ponce City Market at 675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE.