Thursday, January 12, 2006

Harvest Festival - Makara Sankranti ( Indian Thanksgiving )

"Sankranti Subbhakaankshalu!!Wishing you a memorable festive season which brings good luck & prosperity and hoping your days ahead are filled with happiness.Have a wonderful Bhogi & Pongal."
“Unity in diversity”…this phrase is apt in identifying India in its diversity of religious beliefs and the cultural traditions of the different states.One festival which clearly reflects that is Sankranti ,one of the most colorful and popular festivals of Andhra celebrated with a lot of fervor and enthusiasm.Sankranti is a secular harvest festival celebrated in most parts of India under different names .. Sankranti(A.P,Karnataka),Pongal(Tamil Nadu),Makar Sankranti (Maharastra and Gujarat) and Lohri (Punja and Haryana). Sankranti which is the most important festival for us Telugus and is called 'Pedda Panduga' ( big festival) signifying that it is a time to discard the old and welcome the new and is the harbinger of more light and sunshine in life.Sankranti is celebrated over four days, the first day(13th Jan) is called 'Bhogi', the second day(14th) is 'Sankranti', the third day(15th) is, 'Kanuma' and the fourth day (16th), 'Mukkanuma'.

Inspite of the fast changing times with people migrating from villages to bigger cities in search of greener pastures and with cities expanding ,the spirit behind the way we celebrate our festivals has not quite changed.Bhogi,the first day is marked with gaiety and is celebrated on the eve of Sankranti or Pongal in all its entirety with traditional practices and customs which have been followed since our forefathers.

Early in the morning at 4 a.m ,a bonfire (Bhogimantalu) is lit on the occasion of Bhogi symbolizing ringing out the old to ring in the new.Old brooms, baskets,clothes,junk firewood,broken wooden furniture are all thrown into the fire signifying the cleansing of the house and a fresh start to the new year.Life is seen as a continuous renewal.This is the picture of our Bhogimantalu on Bhogi day at 5 a.mDuring this entire festive season women decorate their ‘vaakili’(the entrance to the house/front porch) with 'muggu/kolam/rangoli' of varied hues and sizes and place Gobbemmalu (small balls made from cow dung and decorated with marigold and pumpkin flowers)in the center.Muggulu are artistic intricate patterns drawn with hand on a washed surface using rice flour or chalk powder and decorated with colors and flowers and bring out the richness and uniqueness of Indian tradition and culture. Every muggu is reflective of the art and artistic capabilities that each woman possesses and is a celebration of life.Here's a picture of a simple 'Muggu' which my 3 year old help color this evening..:)
In the evening many homes with children (below 4-5 years) arrange Bommala Kolluvu (arrangement of an array of toys and dolls) and Bhogipalla perentam (a gathering of women guests and relatives) where a mixture of regi pandlu(berries),senagalu (soaked and drained whole chick peas),flower petals,slices of sugar cane and small coins are showered over the heads of children dressed in new clothes to trickle down the blessings of elders,family and friends and remove 'dhristi '(protect from any evil eye). All the guests and relatives who are invited for the Perentamu are given a gift pack of assorted items (tambulam) which includes clothes, lentils, betel leaves, betel nuts, bananas, traditional sweets,flowers, turmeric and kumkuma.

Another great sight in every village during Sankranti is a decorated bull with multi-coloured attire moving from one house to another led by its master who plays the nadaswaram (flute) to the accompaniment of the dol (a drum). The 'gangireddi' is trained to perform a variety of feats like nodding in acceptance, kneeling and bowing down and even dancing!You will find the decorated bull going around each home here in the city too during the festival season.Old clothes, raw rice and money are given away to the gangireddula vadu (bull’s master) in charity on the occasion of Sankranti.Here's a picture of a fully adorned gangireddu with his gangireddi vaallu (masters) performing a feat in front of my ammamma's(grandmother)home.
Bhogimantalu,traditional oil bath,muggullu decorated with gobbellu ,preparation of traditional sankranti sweets and savouries like ariselu and bobattulu(variety of sweet rice cakes),jantikulu(savoury made with chick pea flour),paalakaayulu(rice flour savoury),semai payasam(sweet vermicilli dessert),paramannam(sweet rice pudding),pulihora (tamarind rice ),masala vada (deep fried lentil dumplings)and many more...,new clothes & gifts given to house-hold helps and Bommala Kolluvu are the main features of Bhogi Panduga (festival).Picture of our Bhogi lunch spread(Vindu Bhojanam) on a plaintain leaf.
Pulihora or Tamarind Rice is a dish we prepare for most of our festivals in S.India.Its a tangy flavoured rice mixed in tamarind sauce and spices and garnished with roasted peanuts and tastes great with plain yogurt and appadam (papad).


2 cups cooked rice (each grain should be separate)
1/4 tsp teaspoon turmeric (haldi,pasupu)
3-4 tbsp oil
salt to taste
20 fresh curry leaves
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
salt to taste
4 tbsps tamarind extract
1 tbsp channa dal (split bengal gram)
1 tbsp urad dal (split black gram)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds ( aavalu)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
5 medium dry red chili
4 green chilis slit length wise
1 tsp chopped ginger
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida, inguva)
1 tbsp sesame seeds pwd(nuvvulu) (optional)

Mix the cooked rice with 2 tbsp oil,salt, turmeric pwd,roasted peanuts and 10 curry leaves. Keep aside.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a vessel.Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.Now add dry red chillis,cumin seeds,channa dal,urad dal and fry for 15-20 seconds till light brown.
Now add the slit green chillis,ginger,asafoetida and curry leaves and fry for 10 seconds.Now add the tamarind extract and cook till the raw smell disappears..approx 3-4 minutes.Add the seasame seeds powder and mix well.Remove from heat.
Add this to the rice and mix well.Adjust salt.
Serve with plain yoghurt.
Note:You can adjust the tamarind extract according to your taste.



Lera said...

Sailu, The festive spirit seems to be already catching on to me by reading your post!your description of the festive scene is awe-inspiring & rangoli pic is breath-taking.

Happy Pongal to you & your family!

Ajay said...

hey this is a gr8 blog..... totaly different from othre blog.... i have seen such a blog for the first time.....
thanks for dropping in....
keep visiting

Garam Masala said...

Hi Sailu -

Your comparison of Sankaranti to 'Thanksgiving' is pretty apt. It never occured to me. Thanks for this candid discussion on how it is celebrated!

Kat said...

Sounds like a beautiful festival! I also love the colors of your Muggu! Thanks for sharing. :-)

prasad said...

Hi sailu,
HAPPY SANKRANTHI.. Pulihora is delicious..

rums said...

my mum must be making traditional bengali sweets for sankranti, now i miss home :(

S said...

Happy sankranti to you and your family.
I know i end up making puliohare every time. so i made vangi baath instead.
From the pooja some poli, ladoo is just being made...hopefully something else tommorrow...
Your naivedyam looks absolutly tasty.

How a wonderful year with lots more happiness to come.


UD said...

happy pongal, i miss all the things happening in the pictures

sailu said...

Happy Pongal to you & your family too,Lera.Have a great weekend!

Thank you for dropping by and for your kind words,Ajay.Sankranti Subakankshalu!

Your welcome,GM and Happy Pongal!

Your welcome,Kat, and yes,its a beautiful festival celebrated with a lot of fervor and zest.

Sankranti Subhakankshalu,Prasad.

I understand,rums..:)Happy Pongal!

Happy Pongal,S.

Happy Pongal,Arun.

v_tel001 said...

శైలూ గారు

మీ article చాలా బాగుంది !

Anonymous said...

mee blog chaala bagundi.. mataltho, fotolatho, vantalatho inta chakkaga sankrantini varnincharu... maa illu gurtukuvachindi :) Thank you!!!