Bollywood’s biggest star, Amitabh Bachchan, and his wife Jaya, throw one of the best Diwali parties at Jalsa, their home in South Mumbai.
While the night beckons select A-listers, the day belongs to the Bachchan family, including actress and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai and her family, who join in the celebrations.
‘Traditions and festivals are always special,’ says Aishwarya, who made her comeback with Jazbaa. ‘My birthday [is around] Diwali, so it is really one big birthday party.’
Usually the day begins early at Jalsa with Jaya and Aishwarya supervising a professional team of decorators to give the bungalow a festive look. As the aroma of a vegetarian feast wafts through the house, the family gathers in the courtyard and bursts firecrackers. ‘My daughter, Aaradhya just loves this part of the celebration,’ says Aishwarya.
On this year’s guest list are Shah Rukh Khan, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and his wife Anjali, and other stars including Anil Kapoor and his family, Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif and Farhan Akhtar. They will drop in at the Bachchan residence to exchange Diwali greetings.
Many stars prefer starting party hopping from Jalsa, and winding up at Shah Rukh’s Mannat.
Shah Rukh Khan
The king of Bollywood makes it clear: ‘We celebrate all Indian festivals at our home – Diwali, Eid, even Christmas, with equal excitement. I want my kids Aryan, Suhana and AbRam to grow up with the best of traditions.’
The superstar makes sure he has no commitments on this day and is at home taking part in the rituals and celebrations. ‘I love to buy gifts for everyone in the family,’ he says. Shah Rukh also joins his children in the evening to burst firecrackers. ‘But I don’t like the loud, explosive ones because it could affect the kids,’ he adds.
From early evening, he throws open his doors to the crème de la crème of Bollywood with his wife Gauri and serves the best vegetarian fare. ‘I abstain from non-vegetarian food on Diwali,’ says Shah Rukh, who is known for his passion for tandoori chicken.
‘We also make it a point to visit close friends and family.’ And one must-visit friend is Big B – Amitabh Bachchan himself.
Anil Kapoor and his wife Sunita firmly believe in keeping Diwali an intimate family affair, although last year he and his actress-daughter Sonam did step out of their home to distribute sweets to fans and light firecrackers.
‘This is one of the festivals, which I enjoy spending with close family and some friends,’ he says.
The extended Kapoor family often gather together at night at elder brother Boney and his wife Sridevi’s home. Then Anil and Sonam make it a point to attend parties hosted by the Bachchans and Khans.
Aptly named Galaxy Apartments, Salman Khan’s home in Mumbai is truly star-studded on Diwali. Everyone from his mother Salma and father Salim to brothers Arbaaz and Sohail and their families and close friends come to celebrate.
‘We have set aside an area at home where my mom does the religious ritual,’ says the Bajrangi Bhaijaan superstar. ‘There is a particularly elaborate one during Diwali.
‘The food is typically vegetarian and all of us enjoy Diwali inviting friends and relatives over. Ours is an open house for Diwali. We have a steady stream of visitors and guests dropping in to wish us all through the day.’
The evening, however, is set aside for a small group of friends and family. ‘If I am not busy with work, we take off to our farmhouse in Panvel where we have a real fun party,’ he says.
Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra
Shilpa and her husband Raj are known to light up Diwali in style and an invitation to their party at their Juhu bungalow are much sought-after. It took off when the couple hosted a Diwali-cum-house-warming bash in 2010, inviting almost all of Bollywood’s A-listers. It was such a hit that from then, on a grand pre-Diwali celebration has been an annual event.
Shilpa’s morning starts with a traditional Mangalorean religious ceremony. ‘We then dress in new festive clothes and prepare to welcome the steady stream of guests, many of who stay on to attend the evening party,’ she says. A guest from last year’s Diwali party remembers how ‘Shilpa played a gracious host, taking care of just about every need of the guests. The food was out of this world – a lavish spread of Mughlai dishes – and there were an unimaginable number of desserts. There were exclusive areas where professional masseurs offered foot and back massages to guests so no one had sore feet after all the dancing.’
Shilpa personalises gifts for her guests. Not one for crackers or noisy celebrations she says, ‘I always believe in the joy of giving during Diwali. I don’t spend on crackers. Instead, I donate that money to the needy.’