Tasty Indian dishes and treats are a firm favourite at the annual Auckland Diwali Festival.
But with the physical event being cancelled this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, there will be none of the food stalls that help draw 60,000 people to Aotea Square and Queen St.
That means many will be having their Diwali meals out of takeaway boxes or preparing themselves at home.
"If you're looking for pure Diwali festive dishes, then my personal choice is Novelty Sweets, where they have perfected the art of making Indian sweets," said Jeet Suchdev, who heads the Bhartiya Samaj Trust.
Novelty Sweets is a restaurant based in Flat Bush that specialises in Indian sweets and vegetarian Indian food.
"No Diwali celebration is complete with the traditional mithai. I like their sweets the best, maybe I've just got a sweet tooth," Suchdev said.
Indian sweets are traditionally called mithai and are used as an offering to the gods.
During Diwali, giving out sweets is also a gesture of greeting family and friends with sweetness and joy.
Special mithai that are prepared during Diwali are gujjia, gulab jamun and coconut barfi.
Suchdev said it was heartbreaking for the community that the physical festival had to be called off for the second year in a row due to Covid-19
"Diwali is a time for happiness, closeness, traditions, festivities, and family time," he said.
Diwali, popularly known as the "festival of lights", is a Hindu festival but is also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists.
Customs include thorough house cleaning, making sweets, wearing new clothes and lighting candles and diyas.
Although Diwali falls on November 4 this year, online festivities kick off from today.
Organisers have announced 20 days of online celebration in the lead up to the main festival, with the Auckland Diwali Festival Facebook page sharing daily inspiration. The online celebrations will feature at-home recipes and cooking demonstrations, as well as music, crafts and dance.
Public landmarks will continue to be lit up in bright fuchsia and yellow for the Festival of Lights and Auckland Unlimited will be providing Diwali content online at aucklandnz.com/Diwali.
Krish Naidu, president of the Fiji Girmit Foundation of NZ said this year's Diwali will be really tough for many in his community.
"This year will be really tough for many...as it will be two years in a row people can't unite with close families back home," he said.
Naidu said the festival was huge for the Fijian Indian community. He said the festival symbolised positivity, hope over despair and a bright new beginning.
Krish Naidu's go-to place for Diwali treats is Indian Sweets and Snacks in Otahuhu.
The must-haves besides the mithais, he says, are their Fijian-style hot chilli bhajji and milk barfi.
Milk barfi is a popular snack made during Diwali and other Hindu festivals as well as Eid. For Naidu, it is something that takes him back to his childhood growing up in Fiji.
Chilli bhajji, a type of fritter, is a hot vegetable dish that is also often served as a snack during Diwali.
Southern Indians and Tamils too have their own signature Diwali dishes, or Deepavali as it the region.
One such snack is the murukku, made mainly from rice flour and urad dal flour.
Auckland Tamil Association's Murali Kumar, originally from Singapore, says Kairali Restaurant in Royal Oak is the place to sample South Indian Deepavali favourites.
"Try the puri, dosas, idlis, puttu and also the vegetarian biryani," Kumar said.
Online cooking classes are also being run on Auckland Unlimited's Diwali Facebook page for those who prefer to make their own tasty treats at home.
Ollie Morrison, co-founder of Roti Bro's, said the company was launching limited edition mini roti pies to celebrate the festival.
"We were mildly distraught that we couldn't attend Diwali this year," Morrison said.
"So we have decided to bring Diwali to the homes of many who were thinking of attending."
The company will be donating part of the proceeds to Belong Aotearoa, a settlement support agency.
Perzen Patel, who will be giving online cooking lessons, is offering a free class on October 23 on how to make masala dosa from scratch, and sharing a recipe for at-home cooks.
Her business Dolly Mumma, named after her grandmother, Dolly, makes ready to cook pastes that aim to get Kiwis to go beyond butter chicken.
Puketāpapa Local Board member Ella Kumar says celebrating Diwali at home is a throwback to the times before Auckland had a large-scale festival.
"I remember in the 1970s when Diwali was celebrated in our family home, we spent hours making festive foods for family and friends, we lit little diyas around home.
"This year...it is an awesome opportunity for the families to celebrate Diwali in their own homes by lighting up with fairy Christmas lights, making festival foods that are specifically made during Diwali and sharing the history of Diwali."
Kumar has been involved in the festival in many ways for two decades and will this year host an online class, tomorrow, Sunday, October 17 at 10am, on the festival's Facebook page.