Pongalo Pongal

Pongal-o Pongal

Happy Pongal, Makar Sankranthi, Lohri to everyone in India. It is the festive season now.

What I remember of Pongal as a kid is waking up early in the cold winter morning and walking towards the drawing room to catch a few more winks on the sofa half asleep waiting for Amma to call us to come to the kitchen. We would wait for the milk to boil and rise and shout ‘Pongalo Pongal- Pongalo Pongal’ and prostrate before the Pongal Panai (pot) .It was a time to feast on chakkarai (sweet) pongal and venn (salted) Pongal with some other delicacies that Amma would prepare .

Fast forward a few years.

I am the one who is buying the turmeric leaves, applying turmeric and kumkum to the pongal panai (pot), tying the leaves securely to the pot, cleaning the gas oven and kitchen counter top in the morning ,adding the required ingredients in the panai and simultaneously keep calling my kid an hubby reminding them that its time to wake up.  Now my son ambles half asleep towards the sofa and then to the kitchen when its time for the milk to boil and rise up.

I am more than happy and satisfied by the time I prepare both the varieties of the pongal dish and the “neivedhiyam ” is offered to the Sun God!  So the lunch and breakfast of the day is done minus any more delicacies that my Amma would prepare.

Pongal literally means “boiling over” as the milk is allowed to boil over, signifying abundance.

I look forward to this morning every year

Perhaps I manage to follow certain customs in ways convenient to me during the current times with some short cuts . Our beautiful traditions have evolved radically but the essence still remains the same  and they keep reminding us about the beautiful culture that we belong to.

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Heart full of joy and House full of lights and diyas #happydiwali #newyear #festive #festivefun #deepavali #bloggers #lightdiya #dorangoli #begood #havefun

Deepawali  is just around the corner and there is a festive atmosphere around. I am reminded of how my parents would wake us up in the early hours on Naraka Chaturdashi day for the customary oil bath. We would be woken up around 4 am in the cold winter morning of October/November . Appa would have switched on the radio and would have tuned into Short Wave band for some south Indian music. The early morning celebrations would start on an auspicious note with Nadaswaram music.

Getting up in the wee hours of the morning was a big task. We are three siblings and we had a rule. As per the rule –“whoever gets up first will take bath first.” That way the other two could catch up with some extra sleep was the idea. But the question was – who would wake up first?? The solution was that whoever’s name is called out  first while waking us up would have to take oil bath first and then one of us would grumble to Amma – “Why did you have to call only my name first??”

On the previous night Appa would have applied a little haldi and kumkum to the corners of the new dresses which would have been piled up on a tray . All the new clothes, sweets,  savouries, crackers, homemade special herbal  medicine, a big vessel smeared with little rangoli pattern , gingelly (sesame) oil would be placed in front of the God.

After waking up Amma would make us sit on a low level wooden seat  and anoint our hair with warm gingelly oil. We would then go out and light a cracker/sparkler . The one whose name was called first would go for the oil bath while rest of the two would try to  catch some few more winks of sleep.

Post bath Appa would give us our new dress and Amma would give us the special homemade herbal medicine in the form of a small ball . I hated it. My sister used to find it tasty. Amma would ask me to eat it fast as it helps in the digestion of all the sweets and savouries that we would be consuming for the next few days. I would find it very difficult to push it down my throat. We would wear the new clothes and seek the blessings of the elders.

Gorging on the different sweets and savouries would be fun. Phone calls to greet relatives and friends would be with “ Ganga snanam accha?”. Evening time would be spent in lighting diyas, greeting  friends and exchanging sweets. Since my growing up years were in northern and western  India we would save the bursting of crackers for the next day when the whole neighbourhood would be bursting crackers.

In today’s age enthusiasm is the same for celebrating  and I do eagerly look forward to this festival of lights but some things have changed for me I realize.. Waking up at 4 am has shifted to a little later by 2 hours, gingelly oil has been replaced by parachute coconut oil for namesake,  shikakai  has been replaced with shampoo.

When it comes to sweets and snacks –it’s the shortcut as I prepare just one sweet and one savoury item as I find the deep frying chores in the kitchen immensely boring . Rest are purchased from shop. Diwali herbal medicine too is purchased ( symbolically bought if available) and the packet remains unopened for days to come, and is finally discarded one fine day. Crackers too are brought on a minimum scale now  keeping in mind “green Diwali”.

Piling up new dresses on a tray with haldi and kumkum smeared in a corner and placing the sweets , savouries , Diwali herbal medicine and crackers along with the new set of clothes is something I look forward to. Its also time to bond with neighbours and friends by exchanging sweets.

What has also got added is looking forward to make a colourful  rangoli apart from the traditional rangoli with rice flour and decoration with lots of marigold flowers and lamps , diyas, serial bulbs.

With my generation some things have changed, and with the next generation some more things will change. We do try to hold on to some rituals ,customs, traditions as per our convenience and the love, laughter and bonding continues to keep everyone together.

May the beauty of Deepawali season fill your home with happiness

Wishing everyone a very Happy and Joyous Deepawali

 

 

 

 

 

 

BONDINGS START FROM HOME AND FESTIVALS ARE ONE AMONG THEM #happyganeshchaturthi #festive #festivefun #bloggers #begood #havefun

Memories are what we hold onto with fondness. Ganesh Chaturthi puja celebration is something very close to my heart . As per our Hindu tradition I pray to all the Gods and Goddesses, but Lord Ganesha holds a special place in my heart. The festival of “ Vinayakar Chaturthi “is one which I enjoy the most. The elephant headed God is widely worshipped as the supreme God of wisdom, prosperity & good fortune. My first shloka that I learnt was also on Lord Gajanana. “Gajananam bhoota ganadi sevitham…..”

My parents  have left me with memories of this festival for a life time . Appa would take clay from our garden and make the idol of Ganesha .We would be excited to watch Appa make the idol, then sticking our sticker bindis for eyes, rice grains as tusk, a sacred thread too would be placed on the idol !!  As a kid we would be given the job of rolling out the tiny balls for “ammini kozhakattais” (Kozhukattai are rice flour dumplings that are steamed, cooked and tossed in a tempering to make this Ganesh chaturthi snack).

It used to be a super fun activity , the more we roll, the more we get to eat!!

The jaggery & coconut modakams were something we would gobble up so fast .The entire process would be a real bonding time for the family. Amma would make so many yummy items for the Lord. During Puja time Amma would say to us kids, “ Pray for good health, wisdom to the Lord!”

We would be waiting for the aarti , so that post offerings we could feast on the yummy modakams, salted kozhakattais, vadais, appams, ammini kozhakattais, payasam (kheer). In the evenings when we would go out to see the different pandals, our eyes would want to catch a glimpse of the moon. As per the story Amma had narrated she had told us not to look at the moon on that day!!

The clay ganesha would finally find its way back to the garden.

Apart from that visiting the various sarvajanik pandals of Ganesha always added to the charm. Visiting friends houses who bring in Lord Ganesha is also something to look forward to .During school days I used to have a pact with Ganesha too especially whenever I wanted some favour!!. Super brain yoga posture was always for this Lord whenever I wanted good marks in my exams. The numbers would vary from 12 to 108 !!

There used to be a Ganesha temple close to my college and I would often visit the temple and maybe that is how my fondness for Siddhi Vinayaka grew. I moved to Mumbai soon after college when I got a job and again there was a tiny Ganesha temple near my house. I bumped into one of my friends ( who is now my husband) in a Ganesha temple on a Ganesha Chaturthi day !!!

The making of different Kozhakattais , modakams etc is something I look forward to even today as an adult. My husband & son are entrusted with rolling ammini kozhakattais. My little one will compete with his Appa to do a better job in rolling the tiny balls. These days we hardly sit cross legged on the floor & this is one task for which they sit in the kitchen cross legged & my son will say “ Amma , my legs are aching”, to which I will reply –“Bear the pain for Ganesha  &  he will surely be happy with you & shower you with blessings!!”. Its real family fun time.

Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations has its own charm. Lord Vakrathundaya’s arrival is special as its after the onset of rains. There is greenery all round. The entire place is clean & free of  dust. Vinayaka seems to be saying, “I will arrive once the entire city & vegetation has been cleaned up after receiving the heavenly showers !! ”

It feels nice to participate in the building Ganapati puja celebrations. It is a very nice feeling as if Ganesha is amidst us. There is an air of festivity all around. I look forward to the morning & evening aarti time. It is also the time to wear saris, to have a look at all the lovely colourful saris & other outfits clad by others. The Mahaganapati Homam is a time when the chanting of holy mantras seem to bring positive vibrations around. I feel lucky to have learnt sanskrit while at school. I never liked the studying of third language while in school. But since I can understand, make out a little meaning when the shlokas, mantras are being chanted, I find it enjoyable. I thank my school for having introduced sanskrit.

The prasadams that we get after the evening puja are something I love. The quantity served is quite sufficient & filling as there is no need to prepare dinner. And, yes if someone in my family does not relish all that then it is time for DIY in the kitchen for them.!!!

On the Ganapati visarjan day a part of my mind would want time to tick slowly so that Ganesha could stay a little longer. As we bid goodbye to the Vignahartha  I know I would be missing him all the more when I would see the place where he was sitting blessing one & all.

“Ganapati Bappa Morya , pudachi varsha laukarya”.