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Showing posts with label FESTIVALS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FESTIVALS. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

UPPU SEEDAI / SALTED CHEEDAI (SAVOURY CRUNCHY RICE BALLS)

UPPU SEEDAI / SALTED CHEEDAI (SAVOURY CRUNCHY RICE BALLS) 
GOKULASHTAMI / KRISHNASHTAMI /JANMASHTAMI /KRISHNA JAYANTI, the Birthday of Lord Krishna is round the corner and one of his favourites is Seedai/Cheedai, a savoury crispy crunchy rice lentil balls.
Every year during Gokulashtami Amma used to make Seedais and we used to absolutely love them. We as kids used to toss Seedais into our mouth or each other’s mouth to see if we can aim right, we used to enjoy this challenge although, we used to get scolded for it.
Making seedais was a family ritual, with all of us involved in the rolling the dough balls. 
Ah!!! Missing those days of family bonding so much, especially in making seedai, the more the people the merrier it would be. 
Appa (the major general of our little army) would trick us into competing on who would roll out more seedai balls quickly, we would immediately take on the challenge, so we can win. We would await this ritual every year eagerly until one year, Amma had kept everything ready but as she popped the seedais into the oil, the seedais burst and the oil splattered and she got burnt badly, she had very bad burn marks on her stomach and hand.
My Appa got so angry that he threw all the dough into the bin and told Amma that henceforth she should not make any Bakshanam(Savouries) that would have the potential to burst and that was that. Appa used to buy all the Bakshanams from our dear Madras Stores(Readymade). 
Amma used to prepare Appam, Vadai etc for neivedyam but no more savouries.
The fear continued and I never attempted making seedai to as the incident had scared me. Anyways, Grand Sweets (Chennai) available in our Abdul Rahim stores, Upper dickson road, Singapore was always there for my rescue, Jai Ho!!!
But looking at so many people attempting this savoury, I got tempted to try too.
Just to be honest with you, I’m a "quick gun Murugan" chef and like quick recipes I don’t like to do too many laborious preparations. So in my recipe I have used the store-bought Rice flour and Udad flour (readymade flours), I have used dessicated coconut as well. 
Here’s my recipe of the Seedai, My recipe can make about ½ a kilo (500 gms) of Seedais



Ingredients (Makes about ½ kg of Seedai)
Rice Flour – ¾ cup
Split white lentil (Udad Dal /Urad dal/ Ulutham parippu) Flour – 1 tbsp
Split Bengal Gram lentil (Chana Dal/Kadalaparuppu) - 1 tbsp
Grated Coconut – 2 tbsp
Asafoetida (Hing / Perungayam) - ½ tsp
Butter – 1 tbsp
Salt as per Taste
Oil for Deep Frying
A muslin cloth or towel

Method
Soak the Chana dal in water for about 15 minutes.
Dry roast the flours in a non-stick pan for about 2-3 minutes in a low flame, ensuring to stand and monitor the roasting and not letting it change colour or catch the bottom. Let it cool down.
Now, Sieve the Flours, this is very important. Do not use the flour which has not passed through the sieve. This ensures that you get a smooth flour with no lumps.
Now, in a deep Mixing ball, Add the flours as per the measure above, add in the grated coconut, asafoetida, butter, the soaked and drained Chana dal and salt as per taste. Mix well, the butter should get one with the flour, so that when you hold it in your hand, it forms the shape of your hand. Then add water little by little and knead well to make a smooth dough. The best part about rice flour is it’s easily manageable with people who are not much experienced as well.
The dough should be stiff and not sticky to your hands. Add water slowly, sprinkle little by little if not confident.
Now, grease your fingers with some oil, take a small quantity of dough and roll it into a tiny ball.
While rolling, we need to roll it gently into a pliable ball, if too hard the seedai may burst.
Do not make big balls, the smaller the balls, the crunchier they turn out. Continue making the balls.
If you do not have people helping you making the balls while you are frying then you need to wet a muslin cloth, squeeze the excess water, the cloth must be moist and throw the balls onto the moist cloth, this is to ensure that the flour doesn’t get dry. Rice flour gets dry very fast.
As you keep making the balls then just cover it with the cloth gently.
Once finished rolling all the balls check, if you feel the balls are moist, allow them to dry out a bit before you start frying
Now comes the frying part, this by far is the most crucial part of making the Seedai.
Before you start, frying we need to ensure that the oil is nice and hot, but not fuming hot. Put a tiny pinch of dough to check first, if you see that the dough comes rising to the top, means your oil is ready.
I usually out one as a test run to see how it reacts (Because of my fear factor), once done, and all ok I add batches of about 15-20 balls at a time. Once you put in a batch of seedais in oil, keep the strainer ladle on top just in case and do not turn them immediately. Increase the flame a bit as when you drop a batch the temperature goes down, after about a minute, lower the flame and slowly turn the seedais to the other side. Let them fry on one side. If we keep the flame high to speed up the process, the seedai will turn brown and instead of being crunchy will be cooked on the outside and chewy on the inside.
The right temperature and being alert during the frying process is a must to ensure perfect seedais. Deep fry the balls until golden in color and you can feel them sound like little marbles on your ladle. Remove and drain excess oil on a paper towel. Allow it to cool down, then store the seedais in an airtight box.
I made this is as a neivedhyam Bakshanam for Gokulashtami. It gave me immense pleasure to serve my Lord, the Home made seedais made with love.
Enjoy these little crunchy balls on the go or as a snack with your tea/coffee. 

Statutory Warning !!!
Do not pop into your mouth, the hot seedai balls once out of the oil you may burn your tongue. Let it cool down first.  The crunch comes only once cool down.




Tips

· Follow the ratio exactly as given in my website. We need to use the right ratio otherwise the seedai will not turn out good. Adding more udad dal flour, makes the seedai burst open as well and you will see that the color would become dark, similarly adding less udad dal flour makes the color very light.

· You can sieve the flours twice to ensure that the flour is butter smooth, this ensures that the seedais won’t burst when frying. Better to be safe than sorry since we are using the store-bought readymade flours. Anil Rice flour/Kuzhakattai flour/Idiyappam flour are all good to make this recipe.

In my recipe I have used dessicated coconut. Incase, you are using fresh coconut roast them to a pink colour. After roasting, let it cool before adding to your flour mix.

· Adding more butter will make the seedai too brittle.

· To make more just double the measurements given 



Variations

· Vegans can replace butter with 1 tablespoon of Coconut oil, if adding oil, slightly warm up the oil     before adding.

· For those who want to make it the traditional way using the home made rice flour, which is considered by the elders and experienced as the best due to its smooth texture and also because you know what rice goes into the making.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Navarathri Festival then & now...changing times and patterns

Navarathri in the 70's- 2000 & Now....

I had the privilege of living & being brought up in Mumbai. A place where people from all over the country live. Where each festival is celebrated with gaeity. A place where there's a frenzy to catch a train/bus/rickshaw/taxi. Where a day passes only to go to work & be back. Where even 24 hours in a day is less.

The power it takes to board the train, squeezing through the robust melee of people in a mad frenzy to catch the train & the same frenzy to get off the train, literally jumping onto the platform, squeezing back through the crowd and daring all odds to reach home and yet come back with energy for the family & household chores waiting for them.

Yet, when festivals come, the ladies undauntingly celebrate it with ardour & warmth.

Our Tambrahm community has always known to be a practical & intelligent lot. Our pragmatic approach to changing times has helped retain our age-old traditions & rich culture & heritage.


Then.....

Working ladies would invite over the weekends & housewives over the week. Inspite of living in a fast paced city with such a flinty pace. People still managed to make the time to celebrate festivals with zest.

Back then, I used to enjoy dressing up in my pattu pavadais(silk petticoats), adorning jasmines in my hair and wearing Amma's gold necklace and jhimki(long gold earring with precious stones). I used to feel so dolled up as I used to accompany my Amma(mother) for vettala paaku.

The girl kids were an integral part of the celebrations and were "invited". I used to feel so privileged to be "invited"๐Ÿ˜€

Nowadays the kids do not want to accompany nor do they like to dress up in our beautiful traditional gear.

In our community, being born as a girl itself was a celebration.

My brother wasn't officially "invited"๐Ÿ˜œ for the vettala paaku.

Once we reached in our silks & fineries, mind you it's the onset of winters and just comfortable to be attired in our ensemble.

When we visited the people, we used to admire the golus(arrangement of dolls), ask questions about the theme of arrangement, new Additions (It's a tradition to have a new addition of a doll every year). We used to chant shlokas, sing bhajans, appreciate any new things in the hostess's house.

We usually used to be offered sundal & some sweet and beverages(coffee, tea, juice)

Sometimes we used to visit a few houses in a row, so the sundals & sweets used to be packed in little small packets of banana leaves covered with a newspaper made into little take away packs. These packets were made & readily kept if we refused to have anything offered at the hostess's home.

But now....

Calling for Vettala paaku has become an elaborate affair.

Every person is competing with another. The humble sundal & sweet are replaced with a huge array of food items. It's like a buffet arrangement with a varieties of snacks & sweets. People are slogging in the kitchen to outdo each other in the quest of making an impression on the invitees. Some even ordering food from restaurants. Eventually a lot of ladies who cannot manage all this will jump off this bandwagon and succumb to the temptation of "not" celebrating this beautiful festival.

There's also competition in dressing up, presenting the house,

Offering expensive gifts and comparing who's gift is better than the other.

There's pressure in dressing up in certain colors.

There are yet, a group of people who pack the thamboolam in gift pouches and send it over to their friends through their maids๐Ÿ˜‚.Totally hassle-free but completely kills the idea of offering thamboolam.

The manjal(Haldi) kumkumam (Kumkum)which was offered from little brass/silver boxes have transformed into plastic pouches or boxes holding colored powders.

The paaku(betel nuts) is packed in plastic pouches.

We are using so many non biodegradable things now in the name of convenience which is harming the environment.

I'm glad I kept re-inventing myself over the period of years. This year I purchased cloth bags to give my vettala paaku, i do not give blouse pieces which are going to be further passed on๐Ÿ˜œ.

I love the idea of gifts, Gifts are an integral part of the thamboolam, so i take a lot of efforts, go to many shops, buy gifts which can be used in the pooja room or house. Keep the cost economical as I give a lot of people (80-100 ladies). The idea is not the cost but the thought behind it.

Haldi-kumkum packets i still give....maybe eventually it should (will)change. Betel nut packets too....but my friends love them.

No bangles, combs, pottu packets, mirrors๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ....they definitely get recycled.

Gifts are an integral part of the Haldi kumkum,

My mom used to say, "The more ladies you give, the more punyam you get".


We must adapt to the changing times and not rigidly keep doing rituals in the name of tradition. We must take into account the present day situation and act accordingly.


"Happy Navarathri to All"




© Sukanya's Musings

Friday, March 14, 2014

KARADAYAN NOMBU ADAI QUICK & EASY RECIPE ( SWEET & SAVORY ADAI)

KARADAYAN NOMBU
The Karadayan Nombu festival is primarily observed and celebrated by the Tamil Brahmins. It is celebrated during the transition of Tamil Month of Maasi to Panguni. Due to this legend Karadaiyan Nombu is also known as Savithri Vratham.

There are a few festivals in India which are very male oriented and centered around men. Primarily because in the past the men were the bread winners and the woman’s role was taking care of the hearth and homes. Their lives were intertwined with their husbands and they usually used to pray for the long lives of their husband, so that he is always there for them till the day they die. This was also a way to profess their undying love for their husbands. As per one of my cousins this could be known as the “Karwa Chauth” of the South Indians (Tambhrams). To give it a filmy twist, Women can even ask their husbands to tie the Yellow thread for them๐Ÿ˜‰and then touch his feet and seek his blessings๐Ÿ˜‡. (I'm not sure how many women of today will be ready to do that๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œ)


HOW DOES THE FESTIVAL GET IT'S NAME ?

Karadayan Adai is the name of a unique dish prepared on this day and Nombu means Vratham or upavasam (fast).Wives keep a fast to pray for the long lives of their husband's. They break the fast at the timings specified (muhurtham timings) by eating the Adai.

STORY BEHIND THE FESTIVAL


The Story of the Tamil Karadayan Nombu festival is based on the legend of Satyavan Savitri which is one of the stories that we read in the epic story Mahabharata.
You can read the story of Satyavan and Savitri here.
It is believed that Savitri got her husband’s life back from the clutches of death.
Each region in India observes a fast (upvas/vrat) in a different time of the year, like the Maharashtrians observe this as Vata Savitri and the North Indians as “Karva Chauth” etc.


WHEN DO WE CELEBRATE


It is celebrated during the transition of Tamil Month of Maasi to Panguni but please note the time of the end of the month of Maasi and the beginning of  Panguni varies.

If you are looking for accurate timings, please use the link below.๐Ÿ‘‡ It gives you the date and Muhurtham timings of the Pooja as per the place you live in,

http://www.drikpanchang.com/festivals/karadaiyan-nombu/karadaiyan-nombu-date-time.html

 If you wish, you can consult your temple priest or check with elders or refer to the Panchangam.


HOW DO WE CELEBRATE

On Karadayan Nombu day women worship the Goddess and offer her a Neivedhyam (offering) of Sweet & Savoury mini steamed Adais.
Unmarried girls pray for a good husband and married women pray for their husband’s long life.
There is a muhurtham time for tying the sacred yellow thread which indicates that we have offered our prayers.
During this time, Women pray to the Goddess and tie the sacred yellow cotton thread known as Manjal cheradu or Nombu Cheradu for the well-being of their husband. This thread is not as thick as the Thali Kayaru(cheradu), this is a thinner version as shown in the picture.

*Women who are unable to perform the pooja on Nombu day due to monthly periods or any other reason, can do it on the following Tuesday or Friday during the Panguni month.*


HOW TO DO THE POOJA

Wear a Pattu(Silk) saree and for girls the pattu pavadai (if possible)



Keep in the pooja room near God on a plate, manjal, kumkumam, betel leaves, paaku, broken coconut, banana, flowers and all the yellow threads. Light the lamp and the Incense/Dhoopam for the Goddess. (refer to the picture above ☝)

Prepare The sweet and savory Adai's (Refer to Recipe below ๐Ÿ‘‡)
In plates or banana leaves place the Adais(Sweet and savory) and do neivedhyam for the Goddess.
Put small maa - kolams in front of the God for the total number of Girls/Ladies and One for the Goddess Amman
(This can be done in the morning itself, it should be totally dry when you do the pooja)
Place a banana leaf on top of each Kolam, Keep the Nombu adai(Sweet & Savory) with umelted butter on each banana leaf.
Do Namaskaram to the Goddess, tie a yellow thread (Nombu cheradu) for the Goddess and then sit cross legged in front of each Banana leaf placed before the Goddess.
Now tie the nombu cheradu around your neck by yourself and tie it for the children too.

*The following shloka is chanted while tying the yellow thread*

In Sanskrit,
“Throram Krishnami subhake saharitham
Dharami aham bharthu Ayushya Sidhartham supreethabhava sarvadha”
Which means,
By tying the sacred yellow thread, I hereby pray for a long life for my husband and also pray that we always live happily together.

In Tamil ladies chant,
Urugaadha Venneyum, Oru adaiyum, Oru Noolum naan noorthaen
Orukkalumum en kanavan ennai vittu piriyaada irukka vendum.
Which means,
I offer unmelted butter alongwith the adai, Tying a thread doing nombu,
Bless me O Goddess that me and my husband never get separated and always live happily together.





After tying the rope, take one adai along with unmelted butter and eat it.๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹.
Ladies should eat this adai and break the fast.
Then it should be distributed to the members of family.

This is how Karadaiyan Nombu is performed in our house. This procedure may differ as per places.

Consult the elders about your family practice and do the pooja accordingly.


MAKING THE ADAI

I will share with you an easy method to make the adai without compromising much on the taste.
Before you make the adai (for sweet adai and the savory adai), roast the rice flour in a wok so it loses its raw smell. The color of the flour should still be white. Transfer it onto a plate to cool.

SWEET ADAI / VELLA ADAI (EASY & INSTANT METHOD)

Ingredients
Rice Flour - 2 cups
Jaggery (powdered) - 1.5 cups
Water - 1 cup
Black eyed beans - 1/2 cup
Coconut (cut into small cubes) - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Cardamom (Elaichi) - 2-3

Method
Soak the beans overnight or for around 3 hours, pressure cook and set aside.
Pound the cardamom, separate the skin and further pound the seeds inside into a powder.
In a wok, add Ghee, the cardamom seeds and coconut pieces, Allow the coconut pieces to fry until golden. Then add the water and let it boil, once it starts boiling, add the jaggery.
When the jaggery starts to froth and the raw smell of jaggery disappears, add the roasted rice flour, cooked black eyed beans, and mix the ingredients well. Mix until it rolls up like the chappati dough. Remove from the gas. Allow it to cool.
Once it is cool enough to touch, make balls of the mixture and flatten it to round shapes. Put a hole in the middle with your finger just like a doughnut, place on the idli moulds.
Steam them in an idli cooker for 7 - 10 minutes. Serve with a generous dollop of white butter (usually made at home).



SAVORY ADAI / UPPU ADAI



Ingredients
Rice flour - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Cooked black eyed beans - 3 tbsp
Green chillies / Dried red chillies - 2
Coconut, diced - 2 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a Sprig
Asafetida - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Method
Heat some oil in a wok, add some mustard seeds, asafetida, green chillies or dried red chillies and curry leaves and sautรฉ for a minute, till the seeds stop spluttering. Add the water to it next and let it come to a boil. Add in the salt, coconut pieces, cooked black eyed beans and the roasted rice flour and stir well so that lumps don't form. Mix until it rolls up like the chappati dough. Remove from the gas. Allow it to cool.
Make balls out of it, flatten the balls and cook in an idli steamer for about 10 minutes.
Serve with a generous dollop of butter.

Enjoy the Adais ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹ as a reward of breaking the vratham๐Ÿ‘ kept for your dear husbands or would-be husbands.

AFTER THE FESTIVAL
The thread you tied around the Godess's Idol can be removed once its worn out, it can be tied to a plant or branch of a tree or dispersed in water. Do not disperse in reserviors/lakes
The threads tied around the women can be tied to the Thali Cheradu (Kodi)/Mangalsutra if you wish to or tie it to a plant or the branch of a tree.
For unmarried girls the thread can be tied to the branch of a tree too.


"HAPPY KARADAYAN NOMBU TO ALL" 



Thursday, September 20, 2012

KOZHAKATTAI / UKDICHE MODAK / COCONUT & JAGGERY FILLED RICE DUMPLINGS


KOZHAKATTAI / UKDICHE MODAK / COCONUT & JAGGERY FILLED RICE DUMPLINGS
GANPATI BAPPA MORYA!!!!!
Yesterday marked the beginning of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, this festival marks the celebration of the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, who is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees in the duration of this festival. It is the day Shiva declared his son Ganesha as superior to all the gods, barring Vishnu, Lakshmi, Shiva and Parvati. Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel.
The festival, also known as Ganeshotsav ("festival of Ganesha") is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period). The total number of days change according to the waqxing moon and the Hindu calendar. This festival is celebrated  with great pomp all over India, it is most elaborate in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa and Chhattisgarh. Outside India, it is celebrated widely in Nepal and by Hindus in the United States, Canada, Mauritius,[3] Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma and Fiji. (Info courtesy-Wikipedia)
One thing that is always made in my kitchen for my darling elephant God Ganesha is the Tenga Poornam Kozhakattai / modakams.
Modak has a special importance in the worship of the Hindu god Ganesh; modak is believed to be his favorite food, which begets him the moniker “modakapriya” (the one who likes modak) in Sanskrit.
During the Ganesh worship ceremony, known in India as Ganesh Chaturthi the puja always concludes with an offering of modakas to the deity and as prasad.
I make this in the South Indian style as well as the Maharashtrian style as I was born in Maharashtra where the same dish is known as Ukdiche Modak.
In Maharashtra
The sweet filling inside a modak is made up of fresh grated coconut and jaggery, while the outer cover is made from rice flour, or wheat flour mixed with khava(khoya) or maida flour. The dumpling can be fried or steamed. The steamed version is called ukdiche modak.
In South -India
The sweet filling inside a modak is made up of fresh grated coconut and jaggery, while the outer cover is made from rice flour and steam cooked.
I never found the steam cooked kozhakattais in any restaurant in Mumbai, India but was surprised to find this at the Ananda bhavan restaurant here in Singapore. But nothing can beat the home cooked ones especially when they are just out of the steamer/cooker. It’s best to eat this when it’s steaming hot. 
Ingredients
White rice – ¾ cup
Grated Coconut - 1 cup
Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Elaichi (Cardamom) – 2-3
Ghee – ½ tbsp
Coconut Oil - 3 tbsp
Method
To make the coconut jaggery filling (Tengai Poornam)
In a wok, add the ghee and the crushed cardamom minus the skin of the cardamom. Allow this to fry, then add in the jaggery and let it melt on a low flame. Once the jiggery starts to froth, add in the coconut, mix well and keep stirring over a low flame until the mix becomes one, there’s no water and the mix starts to leave the sides of the pan. This is fast to cook in a non-stick wok. Once done, keep aside and let it cool. Make small balls and keep aside.
Make the cover
Soak the rice in water for about 2-3 hours. Rinse well. Drain the water from the rice and grind it in a mixie (blender) by adding some water until it becomes a smooth batter. Add about 1 ½ tbsp of oil and a pinch of salt. Now, in a nonstick pan, Add in the batter and on a low flame cook it until the water starts to evaporate and the batter starts to thicken a bit like chappati dough but slightly more pliable than  that. Immediately put off the flame and allow it to cool. Knead the dough well. Add some oil and knead well.
How to make the kozhakattai
Grease your hands with some coconut oil. Take a small piece of the dough, roll it like a ball and then flatten it on your palm and shape it like a bowl. Gently press and shape the dough to make it bigger and ensure that it doesn’t have cracks. My grandmother always used to say that the best kozhakattai is when the cover is thin and not too thick and also there shouldn’t be cracks. Now place the Tengai Poornam or coconut jaggery filling that you rolled into balls and place it in the centre of your bowl shaped dough and close it, pulling some of the dough up into the shape of a monumental tower on the tip. Make a few and keep aside.
Steaming the kozhakattais
You can use an idli stand, a dhokla stand, a stainless steel or bamboo steamer or any plate, just grease the plate, line up the kozhakattais and cover with a lid and let it cook on steam for abour 5-10 minutes. Check the kozhakattais, when you find that they are a bit shiny and translucent, and not sticky when you touch them, they are ready. Sprinkle one tablespoon of water on them. And serve them on a plate for the lord, this is called as “Neivedyam”. Once that’s done, you can dunk into this steam cooked sweet delight. Always eat these hot. There are some things in life which can be got only at home and not in a restaurant or shop. This is one of them.

Tips
-Use coconut oil for best results.
-Use fresh grated coconut instead of the frozen or dessicated ones
-Grind the rice flour in a stone grinder instead of a mixie.
-You can use readymade rice flour instead of soaking and grinding the rice. But ensure that you use fine rice flour.
- If, at any time, the dough begins to be difficult to work with, add some water to the dough and knead the dough again. If the batter begins to stick to your fingers, dip your fingers into the oil.

Monday, October 10, 2011

PORULVALANGAI URUNDAI / KETTI URUNDAI

PORULVALANGAI URUNDAI / KETTI URUNDAI
Warning!!!! These are for people with strong teeth only.
At home we call this Poruvalangai urundai but its actually Porulvilangai urundai. In Singapore they call it Ketti urundai. My brother absolutely loves this and this post is for my brother.
I read a lot about why this laddoo shaped sweet is called Porulvalangai urundai and came up with many answers. I won’t repeat them though as they are all over the internet. This urundai is very good for health as it has got all healthy ingredients. In olden day’s people who used to travel from one place to another used to carry this with them as it has a longer shelf life and a lot of nutritional value to give them extra energy or boost while traveling.
There are various recipes to make this sweet as they say, anything nutritious can be added. This is my recipe. I tried to make it a bit softer by adding ghee as we have 2 people at home with cavities and fillings and I couldn’t afford to take risks…LOL!!!!!
My mother used to tell me how her grand mother (my great grandmother) would be able to eat these urundais at a very old age. I guess they were using their teeth aptly unlike us.
Here is a delicious recipe which you can make for Diwali. It is less sweet, healthy and nutritious and very very tasty.
Porulvalangai Urundai
Ingredients
Green Beans or Yellow split moong dal – ½ cup
Rice – ¼ cup
Chana ka daali / chutney daal/ pottu kadalai – ½ cup
Cardamom powder – 1tsp
Sesame Seeds – ¼ tbsp
Salt - a pinch
Jaggery – 1 cup
Ghee – 1 tablespoon (optional)
Dry ginger powder -1/2 tbsp
Cashew nuts – 1-2 tbsp
Raisins - 1-2 tbsp

Method
Dry roast Green Bean(Moong dal) or you can also use yellow split moong dal, the rice and pottu kadalai, till a good aroma comes. Be careful when roating, don’t burn it else your laddoo will taste awful. Be around and monitor it and roast it on a low flame. Then grind these finely in a blender (mixer)
Dry roast sesame seeds separately and add in to your mixture. Also add in a pinch of salt, the cardamom powder and the dry ginger powder. Blend well with a dry wooden spatula.
In a wok, add 1 cup of jaggery with ¼ cup water. The jaggery starts to melt and dissolve in the water. Wait for it to froth and cook the syrup till you achieve one-string consistency (when you add some drops of syrup in a glass of water, it can be rolled like a flexible ball, another way of checking the paagu or syrup is take a teaspoon dip in paagu and dip it in a glass of cold water. If it becomes candy-like then it is ready). At this point switch off the gas. Pour this syrup into the grinded flour and roll it quickly to small lemon size balls. Fry the cashew and raisins in ghee and keep one each for decoration as seen in the picture. I added a tablespoon of hot melted ghee as well along with this. Be careful don’t take too much time to roll the flour into balls else it will become tough to roll. Incase that happens just keep the entire mix on a low flame until the jaggery melts and roll the balls. Once cool the laddoo becomes hard, its ready for attack. Now taste this nutritious poruvalangai urundai. For those with weaker teeth, break the urundai, pop it into your mouth and relish it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

NAARIYAL KA BARFI / COCONUT BARFI / KOPRA PAAK / COCONUT FUDGE

I Wish All My Readers A Very Happy & Prosperous Deepawali

COCONUT BARFI
Also known as Kopra Paak in Maharashtra
I absolutely adore this wonderful sweet and it used to be my favorite sweet during my childhood and I would happily indulge in it without a care in this world. Nowadays health is a priority and sweet coconut indulgences are a definite no-no, but this Diwali I was remembering my younger, carefree days and decided to make this coconut delight to refresh the fond memories of my childhood when food was associated with smell, taste and indulgent pleasures without a care for health.  Here is a very easy recipe to help you prepare this delicious fudge which you can indulge in….at least during festive times.

NAARIYAL KA BARFI (COCONUT FUDGE)

Ingredients
Coconut - 2 cups grated
Sugar – 1 cup
Cardamom (elaichi) powder – ¼ tsp
Ghee – 2 tbsps
Saffron (kesar) strands – a pinch
Method
Grate the coconut (don’t grate until the shell, else your barfi won’t be nice and white in color).
In a wok, Take one tablespoon of ghee and lightly roast the grated coconut on a low heat
Add cardamom and mix well. Prepare one-string syrup by dissolving sugar in the water.
Now stir the coconut mixture into the syrup. Keep stirring until it mixes well and leaves the sides of the pan. Add, a few strands of saffron to the mixture. Add a tablespoon of ghee and mix well. The mixture gets rounded like a ball and looks a bit dry at this point turn off the flame.
Grease a plate with ghee. Spread the prepared mixture evenly over the plate and allow it to cool. Cut it into square / diamond shapes with a knife while it is warm. Don’t try to cut it when it’s hot. Nariyal ka burfi is ready to be served.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

GLIMPSES OF NAVARATRI IN SINGAPORE & KONDAI KADALAI SUNDAL

GLIMPSES OF NAVARATRI IN SINGAPORE & KONDAI KADALAI SUNDAL
from me to all my readers with love....
Glimpses of Navaratri Festival in Singapore....
The temple at my home





Beautiful Marapaachi dolls, wooden dolls decorated by me. Please click on link wooden dolls to learn how I decorated it @ my blog Sukanya's hobbies and crafts.














Beautiful ombodhu padhi(9 steps) golu at Siva Durga Temple @ Potong Pasir, Singapore.


Dandiya Raas at the Swimming complex, organized by the Gujarati mandal, Singapore

KONDA KADALAI SUNDAL
Konda Kadalai Sundal gets its name because it has a dome on top representing a kondai(a knot). Every chana or kadalai should have distinctive name so this was equated to a hair knot tied by women. It is made during the Navaratri festival. It is also distributed as Prasad in temples.

Ingredients
Konda Kadalai - 250 grams
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Udad dal - 1 tsp
Green chillies – 3-4
Red chillies – 1-2 broken into 2 halves
Turmeric -1/4 tsp
Asafetida (Hing) - a small pinch
Freshly grated Coconut – 1-2 tbsps
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Salt as per taste.
Curry leaves – a sprig
Coriander leaves for garnish
Method
Soak the Konda Kadalai in water overnight. In the morning rinse out well, add some turmeric powder and a cup of water and pressure cook it for about 3-4 whistles. Don’t throw the water in which the chana has been boiled as it contains a lot of nutrients. Keep the boiled chana aside.
In a Kadhai (wok), Add oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal and the red chillies, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the green chillies and the curry leaves and fry well, now add in the boiled Konda kadalai and turmeric, asafetida and salt. Mix well. Cover the kadhai with a lid. Don’t add water, The boiled chana already has some water, so let it cook. Once all the water is soaked up Add freshly grated coconut and some coriander leaves and mix well.
Serve hot with Rice and Rasam or enjoy it as it is.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

7-CUP SWEET

7-CUP SWEET
The year before last during Diwali a lot of my friends made this sweet. I kept thinking of making it but I didn’t know why the muhurat / muhurtham (the auspicious time) didn’t come for making it. Today was a dull day and I was thinking that making a sweet would cheer up the entire household….ask me how? …We always associate sweets with festivals or celebrations don’t we? If that is not uplifting enough…how about the aroma of melting ghee mixed with sugar that wafts around the house giving it a festive feel. That would uplift the meanest spirits wouldn’t it? Sweets in Indian tradition are associated with good news, happiness, festivities, celebrations and in Hinduism we believe that there are good spirits hovering around us and when there is a sweet cooking there is a happy ambience at home that will garner in good things and bring in good news. So next time we don’t need to have a reason to make a sweet, do we? Ofcourse, the health aspect is there, so mind your calories and sugar levels before you go overboard in your sweet indulgence.
Why is this sweet called 7 cup sweet? As the name suggests-7 cup simply means 7 cups of ingredients are used to make this sweet. Isn’t that sweet?
7 cup sweet is a no-fail recipe and usually turns out quite impressive unless you goof up by becoming impatient during the process of making it. I would like to say that the 7 cup sweet is a marriage between the mysore pak and coconut barfi.
Ingredients
Milk - 1 cup
Gram flour (Besan) - 1 cup
Sugar - 3 cups
Grated coconut - 1 cup
Ghee - 1 cup
Method
In a big flat heavy bottomed wok, Put one cup of ghee, now add in the gram flour and grated coconut and cook till the raw smell goes. Now add in the milk and stir until you see no lumps let it come to a boil and then add in the sugar and stir on a medium low flame. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 20-25 minutes or until the mixture starts to get frothy. At this stage, you have to be hovering around the stove more often, stirring. Keep stirring frequently for another 15-20 minutes. Ensure that it doesn’t catch the bottom and burn. After a while, the whole mixture starts to pull away from the bottom of the pan and starts moving with the spoon, like a dancing doll.
Grease a plate with ghee and pour the mixture onto it and allow it to cool. After, about 15 minutes cut into squares or diamonds. And wait for about an hour before you remove from the plate. You can see neat cakes as in the picture. Enjoy this easy preparation, make it for your family or impress your guests with it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

DEEPAWALI MANAAYE SUHAANI

DEEPAWALI MANAAYE SUHAANI

This song is from the Hindi movie Shirdi Ke Saibaba, a film based on the life of Saibaba, ‘Deepavali manaye suhani. reminds us of how Saibaba lighted lamps in a poor girl’s house with water for Deepawali, so that she can also light lamps and enjoy the festival.

Here is the video for all of you to enjoy;


Diwali as everyone knows is the Hindu Festival of Lights," where people light small lamps. Lighting the lamps signifies victory of good over the evil within an individual. In Hinduism, across many parts of India and Nepal, it is the homecoming of Lord Ram of Ayodhya, after 14-years of exile in the forest and his victory over the evil demon-king Ravan. In the legend, the people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed Ram by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (deepa), thus its name: Deepavali. Over time, this word transformed into Diwali in Hindi and Dipawali in Nepali, but still retained its original form in South and East Indian Languages.

(Some of the Info courtesy – Wikipedia)




Diwali preparations started about a week before with all of us removing cobwebs, washing and wiping the whole house with soap, bleach and water and doing our annual spring cleaning, the old clothes we donated for charity. We also did some shopping for clothes, shoes etc.

Yo put up the serial lights outside the house and inside the mini temple in my house. We also hung 2 lanterns one bought by us from Chaing-Mai(Northern Thailand) and one brought by my parents from India as my little one had demanded from my parents for a lantern(kandeel)from India for Diwali.

This year I was blessed to have my parents with me for Diwali. The fun was doubled, "the more the merrier" I made Ribbon Pakoda, Chocolate malai barfi and plain non-spicy rice chaklis at home. We ordered a few sweets from outside as well, as, during this time the sweets available in the market are usually fresh.

I put color rangoli outside the house and my mom (amma) put maa-kolam (rangoli drawn with rice flour, refer to link on maa-kolam for my article on the same in my blog)

The Maa-kolam was put by amma in the morning and I had put the color rangoli on the eve of Deepavali day. Everyday we put a new rangoli & kolam for 5 days.

In Singapore all the ladies apply Mehendi(Henna Art) for Deepavali, so my little girl wanted mehendi on her hands as well, so I took upon myself the task of drawing mehendi for all at home. We bought some sparklers and some bite-sized bombs which are the only crackers that we can buy here. We bought sparklers with some variation this time. The sparklers spit fire out from inside.The crackers available in Singapore are very safe and boring, but something is better than nothing to reminisce us of our biggest festival. Every evening for about 6 days my daughter had fun bursting crackers though. My little one was also watching it with awe.

I kept all the new clothes on a tray in front of God on the eve of Diwali day.

On the Diwali day, We all got up early in the morning.I lighted small earthern lamps also known as Diyas all over the house.

Amma applied oil for me and I applied for all the others. Oil is usually applied on the head and the body and we must soak for a while and then we took bath with scented hot water, infused with rose water, fresh jasmine flowers and rose petals.

We applied “Utna”which is a scented herbal powder. Amma also had brought Moti sabun(Gulab and Sandal)…..Now my husband Yo always used to take bath on Diwali day with “Moti” soap while in Pune, so he feels very special about using Moti soap….luckily my parents were coming so I asked them to get the soap for him as a surprise. He says it’s a Diwali special soap, so be it, enjoy.

After bath, we all wore our new clothes dabbed with some kumkum on some inconspicuous side for everything to be auspicious. Had sweets, burst some crackers and then went to the temple.

We had a grand lunch and in the evenings all the Indians in our vicinity met at the play area and burst crackers. We exchanged sweets and savories with our neighbours and friends and this marked a joyous celebration for us.

WISH ONE AND ALL A HAPPY & PROSPEROUS DIWALI AND MAY THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS BRING UPON CHEER FOR ALL.


I would like to send this to Priti’s Festive Food Event – Diwali Celebrations

Monday, October 6, 2008

NAVARATHRI - SOUTH INDIAN STYLE


I would like to send this also to LG's Festive Food Event

NAVARATHRI - SOUTH INDIAN STYLE

Navarathri is celebrated for nine days and nine nights followed by Vijayadashami on the tenth day.

This festival is celebrated from the new moon day to the ninth day of Purattasi and is considered as the most auspicious time of the Hindu Calendar. This period is one of the most celebrated time of the year.

Godessess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped for getting courage, wealth and knowledge respectively. Although it has different names in different parts of India, it is celebrated by Hindus from all regions.

In Tamil Nadu, the first three days of the festival are dedicated to Lakshmi, the next three to Durga and the last three to Saraswati.


KAL AAJ AUR KAL (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow)

This was the title of a movie made by the Great Raj Kapoor spanning 3 generations and My composition is a depiction of the Navarathri festival spanning three generations, My grandmother(KAL), my mom(AAJ) and me(TOMORROW). This is an effort on my part to illustrate, how the charm of festivals are fading off our lives? I am afraid that if our generation doesn’t take things into our hands and get serious about our traditions, we will loose our traditions and cultural values. The picture gets grimmer when we migrate to different countries and loose touch of our roots.

I feel that we don’t have as much fun as we used to have back home in Mumbai. Back then we always had the Terminal Exams (half yearly) during the Navarathri festival. The sweet co-incidence was it would always get over in time for us to enjoy the last weekend of the festival. The weekend after the exams was usually marked by full attendance. We got to enjoy the best of everything our style(traditional south indian style) plus playing the Dandiya Raas one of my favorite dances’ just after my Terminal Exams used to get over.

I consider myself as Tomorrow already, as, I don’t know how the Tomorrow after me(my daughter’s generation) is going to be. I am trying my best to go back over to the yesteryears and give my kids the knowledge and sweet memories enjoyed by my amma-amma (Grandma) who used to keep telling us of the Navarathri celebrations they used to have at Parawoor(her hometown) and keep lamenting on those wonderful days…………and the ones I enjoyed in my amma’s (mom’s) house in a sincere attempt to get them in touch with our traditions, values and the spirit of our festivals which not only emphasized on sharing happiness and the virtue of giving but also a social activity for all ages. If this (our tradition) continues no one would be lonely or suffer from stress or depression like we do in this modern age. This is one of the keys to form a happy society.


MUMBAI MEMOIRS

The Navarathri Atmosphere at Mumbai

The prices of flowers start to rise when the festival approaches. Huge mounds of Marigolds orange and yellow are piled up everywhere in the markets in Mumbai. The Toran (a string made of Mango leaves and marigolds) to decorate the entrance of your house is also available at all flower shops. Huge Pandals get erected from place to place, these pandals come alive in the late evenings. A lot of knick-knacks like earthern lamps, beautiful earthern pots called garba pots, Rangoli powders and many other items are sold at discounts on the street. Nothing can beat the shopping at Mumbai for festivals, the markets are so crowded and full of festive things. We used to go to the market to order for coconuts to be delivered to the house, buy the paaku (betel nut), vettalai(betel leaves), turmeric sticks, kumkum dabbis , blouse pieces and also gifts to be given to the ladies later during vettala paaku.


Navarathri celebrated in a South Indian home

The Navarathri Mornings at home

Being a South-Indian and living in Mumbai gave me the best of both the worlds is what I could easily say, as you see a cultural integration of all communities and get to enjoy the best of everything.

Getting up early in the morning to the sounds of Venketesha Suprabhatam and then M.S. Subbalakshmi’s Lalitha Sahasranamam (1000 names of the Devi). Have a nice oil bath which is usually the practice in my home and then go to the temple. After coming from the temple, there is also pooja at home.The kalasham is kept. A small earthern/brass/copper/silver pot is taken inside which we put some rice, toor dal, Turmeric stick and a dollar coin, indicating the house should be always filled with dhan and dhanyam. A coconut smeared with turmeric powder is placed on top of it as shown in the picture. Kumkumam is applied on 3 sides of the coconut and the tail can be adorned with flowers.

The house will be fragrant with lots of flowers, incense and dhoopam. The pictures of the deities dressed in flower garlands. Amma puts a huge ma-kolam outside the house and in front of our mini temple and we tie a Toran too at the entrance of our home. All of us sit together to chant the Lalitha Sahasranamam (1000 names of the devi), followed my Mahishasuramardhini strotram and all the devi stothrams, followed by a mini bhajan session,

(Above is a picture of Lalithambaal)

Appa always insisted that I should sing the bhajans, usually devi bhajans. A grand lunch used to be prepared by my mom, while chanting simultaneously as she doesn’t have the luxury of sitting with us doing pooja, since she has to finish cooking.


The Navarathri Lunch Menu

The Navarathri menu is pretty special,

Payasam (Pal Payasam)

Dal vadai (only paruppu vadai is prepared), usually ulundhu vadai (popularly known as medhu vadai (doughnut vadai) is not prepared for festivals since ulundhu vadai is made during shraddhams)

Hot Rice

Steamed Toor dal (Paruppu)

Ghee

Sambhar

Rasam

Aviyal

Thuvaran (dry vegetable) usually cabbage or beans with coconut is made.

Thayir Pachadi (Yogurt with cucumbers or tomatoes)

Chips (Banana, Chenai Chips) or Vadaams

Pappadams

Chundal / Sundal is usually prepared in the evening.


Sundal Menu

The types of sundal to be prepared on each of the navarathri days is given below:

•Day1: Moong dal (Green gram )

•Day2: Sweet Puttu /Red beans (can be made sweet or spicy)

•Day3: Peanut

•Day4: Kabuli Chana

•Day5: Bengal Gram dal (Chana da)l (kadalai paruppu) Yellow split

•Day6: Black eyed beans (Lobia) (can make it sweet or spicy)

•Day7: White peas /Green peas (pattaani)

•Day8: Field beans(mochai) /Karamani Chundal

•Day9: Konda kadalai (channa dal)

•Day10: Payasam / Chakara Pongal


Navarathri Evenings

At home

Evenings are a time when the ladies visit each other for Vettala Paaku. The ladies usually get dressed for the occasion, girls in pattu-paavadais, teenage girls in Daavanis and married ladies in their Kanjeevaram sarees or their best traditional clothes. Vettala Paaku used to be given everyday during the evenings after lighting the evening lamp in yesteryears, but nowadays since women are working and busy, they stipulate one evening during the Navarathri festival and on that day they prepare everything, call all the people they know and offer vettala paaku. There is no harm in doing that as long as people don’t stop this practice altogether. The token gifts that used to be given in the yesteryears have been replaced with special gifts given in bags. Every year, women like to offer a different gift. It’s almost become like a competition where women vie against each other to be the best as far as choosing the most thoughtful and useful gift is concerned. The Navaratri evenings were also fun as we

(the group of invited ladies) used to have mini bhajan/sthotra chanting sessions on weekends or marked days like Tuesdays or Fridays which are considered auspicious days for the Devi.

In the colony(a group of apartments forming a society)

Every year, in our colony, the residents have the Navarathri celebrations. All the people living in the colony contribute towards the celebrations. A huge pandal is erected in the centre of the ground. On Day 1 of the Navarathri celebrations, the pujari does the staapana of the idol of Goddess Durga and lighting of the akhand jyot (the lamp which cannot be let to extinguish). Residents take turns to ensure that the akhand jyot doesn’t get extinguished. Every morning and evening aarti is conducted with great devotion. After the aarti and Prasad distribution in the night, all the residents would dance garba, followed by daandia raas for the goddess.

We live in a cosmopolitan neighborhood, One particular year, the committee of residents who organize events in our society decided that we should have a Unity in Diversity theme and to emphasize that each day the aarti was conducted by the different communities of people residing in our society. So we had the Maharashtrian Aarti, Gujarati aarti (ours is a predominatly Gujarati neighborhood- so every year we used to have the traditional Gujarati Aarti ), south Indian aarti and so on and so forth. It was a really good experience as we got to get a glimpse of the aartis performed by different communities for the Goddess. Since I am a south – Indian, we formed a group and decided to chant the “Mahishasuramardhini stothram”. We started practicing every day in the evenings till we all perfected the art of singing in unison. The day it was the turn of the South Indians, all of us came together and recited the stothram and believe me it was the first time this had happened in our building, almost everybody i.e. the south-indians and the non-south Indians, some of whom had never heard it before were so impressed with the stotram, due to its alliteration and the very catchy rhythm that they wanted copies of the Stotra and wanted to learn it from us. India is a country with so many states and every state has its own way of celebrating festivals and what bonds each one of us is the fact that we are all human beings living close to each other. No matter what language we speak and which state we belong to, we are all one in the eyes of God (Our creator)

Navarathri in the yesteryears as told to me by my grandma. (Kal – Yesterday)

Shimmering lamps and fragrant flowers touch up homes in cities and towns commanding unflattering reverence. The ladies usually get dressed for the occasion, girls in pattu-paavadais, teenage girls in Daavanis and married ladies in their Kanjeevaram sarees.

If the interiors of a home bristle with women singing hymns and songs, children attired as various gods and goddesses prancing around add to the joyful cacophony. The air, thick with the fragrance of agarbatti and flowers, makes the entry to the house equally attractive. Traditional designs or rangolis made with various colored powders and flower petals are always an enticing sight.

While the impressive arrangement of artifacts at Golu (kolu) sets the tone of the festival, what takes the cake is the delicious concoction called `sundal', made from chickpeas, bean sprouts and coconut. Housewives get busy making and exchanging sundal and special sweets for the occasion.

This festival of nine nights epitomizes the social and cultural aspirations of people. It coincides with the rainy season, associated with sowing and sprouting of seeds — a sign of prosperity and abundance. The feminine equivalent of Hindu Holy Trinity — Durga embodying Shakti, Lakshmi the goddess of wealth and Saraswathi the goddess of learning and arts are invoked as part of the religious celebration.

Each day of the function starts with reciting the stothrams (prayer songs) on Godesses such as Lalitha Sahasranamam, Devi Bhagawatham etc. In the evening, they light the Kuthuvilakku and offer flowers, fruits etc. to the golu. They invite the neighbors, friends and relatives to receive thamboolam(vettalai paaku). Every day, a different kolam is drawn in front of the golu. The Devi Mahatmiyam and other texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are recited.

In the end, they do the "mangala aarathi" (In a plate they mix some turmeric powder, and kumkum with water, and show to the Gods and finally pour it outside the house.) They assemble at every house daily to exercise their vocal chords. ‘Navavaranam’, (sung in praise of Devi) which is a rigorous musical exercise, is rendered most often by the congregation.

The house is charged with the energy of bhakti(devotion) and divinity. The women, after singing to their hearts’ content, are given hot milk (to soothe their throat) and snacks.

Vettrilai pakku(Shen Tamil)/Vettalai paaku(colloquial tamil) (betel leaves) is usually accompanied by many other items that women use to adorn themselves as mentioned below.

Each day, a type of sundal is prepared as offering to God. In the evening, people invite the neighbours and offer Thamboolam (vettala paaku) with the sundal, clothes, coconut or some token gifts.


VETTALA PAAKU

There was a time when people used to visit their friends and relatives and call them for vettala-paaku and now is the time when people just call them over the phone. Of course the charm of all the festivals are slowly fading away, as nowadays people decide upon a date and call all the people on that date for vettala paaku. It’s no more like how it used to be in the yesteryears. But living in India and living abroad does make a difference in the festive ambience. Thanks, to my mother I am still aware of our rituals, our rich tradition and culture. With 2 kids she always strived hard to do everything and celebrated all festivals with gaiety and fervor. My grandmother had told her, “Celebrating festivals reaps good things/happenings/events, it spreads positive energy and brings about cheer. My grandma used to say the only people in whose house there has been a death, don’t celebrate festivals, so naranjya veetula (full house – meaning endowed with happiness & prosperity) where there hasn’t been any tragedy we shouldn’t act like we are mourning or be lazy to celebrate”. So my amma religiously celebrates all the festivals, but credit also goes to my appa who is equally enthusiastic and gives her his full co-operation and support helping her in everything, sincerely conducting the poojas and making the atmosphere so pious and festive. As of todays generation, you even call them, they don't have time to come for vettala paaku and hardly there are people left who call people of vettala paaku, time constraints and deadlines have made people anti-social and people dont want to visit each other for vettala paaku thinking of social obligations.


What constitutes the Vettala Paaku

Vettalai – Betel Leaves

Paaku – Betel

Nut

Manjal - Turmeric

Kumkumam – Bindi or the traditional ku

mkum powder

Manja Cheradu (Yellow thread)

Flowers

Fruit

Coconut

Coin

Blouse piece

Soap

comb

mirror,

bangles,

A gift – something in plastic or steel as per the convenience, financial status and likes of the person.

Out of these, Vettalai, Paaku, Manjal Kumkumam are the most important, the rest are upto one's own convenience and budget.


GOLU

Golu is one of the cutest part of Navarathri, this is what interests the young children to visit houses with their mothers for vettala paaku. Golu means placing idols of Gods and dolls on a wooden staircase. Not everyone keeps Golu at home. It depends on family lineage. We don’t have the practice of keeping Golu at home, but as a kid I used to love to see the Golu at other homes during Navarathri. Early on Golu was meant to display stories of our Gods. Stories from the Ramayanam, Mahabharatham and Shiva puranam were displayed using dolls and idols of Gods, but as we have started to emancipate as a society modern themes have started entering our golus. Traditionally dolls and idols of Gods are arranged in steps like a staircase. On the top most step idols of Gods are placed followed by the other dolls on other steps. People decorate the steps with garlands of fresh flowers, nowadays people also decorate with art papers, festoons, balloons, lights etc. This is also an opportunity for women to exhibit the arts and crafts made by them on the steps. Though all family members get involved in the festivity, golu is traditionally a women's festival.


9th day

Saraswathi Pooja

Goddess Saraswathi is the wife of Lord Brahma(Creator of the Universe). Goddess Sarawathi is usually seen with books and musical instruments. My amma will make us read from our books

first before wrapping them neatly in an unused cloth(usually

silk) and then praying to Goddess Sarawathi to bless us with knowledge. On this day people make young children to learn to write. They usually teach the children to write”Om” followed by alphabets on sand.

Ayudha Poojai (Praying to the tools/equipments) is also done on this day. People pray to their tools on this day.

A musical concert of reputed classical singers is held every evening for nine days at Navarathri Mandapam of Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum.

Period: October/December every year.


10th day

VIJAYADASHAMI (DASSERA)

This day is the last day of this festival. Dassera or Vijayadashmi is considered as the second biggest festival after Deepavali. This is a special day for attaining victory in anything and everything. Vijayam means victory. Therefore, this day is celebrated as an auspicious day for starting any new work. People start new activities like learning music, dance etc on this day. Those who play musical instruments or learn music, usually visit their Gurus with Thamboolam(Vettala, Paaku, Poo(Flowers), Pazham(Banana), Prostrate before their Guru, seeking his/her blessings and take atleast one lesson with their

Guru on that day marking sweet beginnings to their journey of learning. Those who keep Golu will change the position of one doll in the golu, marking the end and the next day the golu is removed. The entrance of the house is decorated

with a Thoranam made with Mango leaves and Marigolds.(You can see the entrance of my home decorated with Thoranam prepared by my husband)

You can also see a picture of the Maa-Kolam I drew outside my house on Dasera day.


MUSIC AND DANCE

The musical soirees during the Navarathri festival is a feast for the eye and intellect. Many temples organize music concerts in the evenings. Eminent musicians perform in the presence of the deity. Since religion and culture are interlinked, we have a delightful fusion of golu at home and kutcheri in the temples.


Kummi

Kummi is one of the most important and ancient forms of village dances of Tamilnadu. It originated when there were no musical instruments, with the participants clapping their hands to keep time. This is performed by women; many varieties of Kummi, such as, Poonthatti Kummi, Deepa Kummi, Kulavai Kummi, Kadir Kummi, Mulaipari Kummi etc are known. The women stand in a circle and dance clapping their hands rhythmically. This dance is usually performed during temple festivals, Pongal, the harvest festival, family functions like the one to celebrate the coming of age (onset of puberty) of the girl-child etc. The first line of the song is sung by the leading lady, which the others repeat.

People dance around the deity clapping rhythmically. At every step they gracefully bend sideways, the arms coming together in sweeping gestures, up and down, left and right, each movement ending in clap.

Kai Silambu Attam

This dance is performed in temples during Amman festivals or Navaratri festival. The dancers wear ankle-bells and hold anklets or silambu in their hands, which make noise when shaken. They perform various stepping styles jumps. The dance is in praise of all female deities, the most preferred being the powerful angry goddess - Kali or Durga.


Kolaattam

Kolaattam is an ancient village art. This is mentioned in Kanchipuram as 'Cheivaikiyar Kolattam', which proves its antiquity. This is performed by women only, with two sticks held in each hand, beaten to make a rhythmic noise. Pinnal Kolaattam is danced with ropes which the women hold in their hands, the other of which are tied to a tall pole. With planned steps, the women skip over each other, which forms intricate lace-like patterns in the ropes. As coloured ropes are used, this lace looks extremely attractive. Again, they unravel this lace reversing the dance steps. This is performed for ten days, starting with the Amavasi or Newmoon night after Deepavali.

Originated as devotional Garba dances, which were performed in Durga's honor, this dance form is actually the staging of a mock-fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king, and is nicknamed "The Sword Dance". The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Durga.

What further adds colour and music to the Navarathri festival these days is the vibrant `Dandiya Ras'. The event has crossed geographical and cultural barriers to become a universal mode of celebration. In Tamil Nadu, it has a different form called `kolattam'. With the small wooden sticks having bells at the end in their hands, men and women dance to the vibrant rhythm of music. So popular are dandiya nights during Navarathri in any city that people don't hesitate to join in the elation.

To get a feel of the festival season, which is not just a religious occasion but highlights art as divinity, celebrates music as an obeisance to creativity and enjoys dance as a mass entertainment. People are out there, everywhere in temples, in neighbour's homes, at market places, on the streets to partake in the glitter and glow of the season. As usual discount sales are screaming out, as these are auspicious occasions to make purchases. It is a treat indeed to see women and children dazzling in their silk dress materials wearing gold ornaments and jasmine flowers tucked in their heads spreading an ethereal fragrance.


CONCLUSION

This is a festival that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. It is a festival of music, dance, of giving, of sharing, of good food, wearing good clothes, meeting people. Underlying everything is the universal message of peace, harmony and bonhomie.

Happy celebrations!


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