Originally it was posted here.
One day after the successful posting of Chhath story on my blog page. I thought what’s next. Suddenly, I got message from Debolina my class mate, “the winter leave has started and I am free for a week, Ashwani what is yours next subject? If you have not plotted your next subject, why don’t you write on “Makar Sankranti”? Makar Sankranti is a festival based on bathing in a holy river and worshiping the Sun as well as it marks the beginning of the harvest season and I replied to her Yes, let’s do a story together ………
Makar is rashi and Sankranti means the movement of sun from one rashi to another. Makar Sankranti is mainly celebrated on 14th January every year.It is one of the most auspicious days for Hindu all over India, Indian sub-continent and overseas.
In a year there are 12 Sankranti and Makar Sankranti is the most celebrated one. Every year on 14th January Sun enters Capricorn with Sagittarius and known as Uttarayan. By the way, it is an astronomical phenomenon, but this zodiac change of Sun has been considered as special even from spiritual point of view. This natural movement of change is celebrated as Makar Sankrant.
The auspicious festivals have been there for many years .The Vedic story also speak that Hindu auspicious celebrations are based on season and natural power elements… From that era people purify themselves by taking bath in Ganga, Yamuna and other holy rivers, they also visit auspicious place and worship Lord Surya and seek blessings. According to Mythology, “In the Mahabharata, the Gangaputra Bhishma Pitamah clearly mention that he will wait till Sun would become Uttarayan after that he will get Moksha from his life”- Unke Pass Ekcha Mirtu Ka Bardan Tha. It is believed, if there is a possibility of liberation from death in Uttarayan the person will get Moksha from the life.
Do you know, In India festivals are celebrated according to lunar and solar calendar (Panchank)? Lunar festivals are based on moon and solar are on sun cycle. The basic difference is that lunar festivals date varies where solar festival is celebrated on the same date every year. It is believe that after one hundred years the date of Makar Sankranti gets change means it will go one day ahead.
Makar Sankranti is considered as the bringing of the holy phase. Good things start to happen from here. After Makar Sankranti the days become longer and warmer. This is the sign of beginning of new season. The weather starts changing from here. It is said that-“A change in feelings can lead to a significant change in behaviours.” Heat and light of sun start increasing and people start coming out from their houses. It signifies that cold is moving out and new developments happen with the sun changes.
As per Hindu believe the Makar Sankranti is also the last day of Kharmas. It is forbidden to do any good will works in Kharmas. From that day the all auspicious work begins, like Grih pravesh, Wedding, Mundan etc happen.
The beginning of the official English calendar is marked with the harvest festival of India known by various names in different regions of India. It is the biggest celebrations for those farmers who assist in cultivations. They are happy because they cut the crops and again cultivate the second crops for their future uses. The main staple food of India is associated with this period of time. Dhan (Rice-Kharif) is harvested and Gehun (Wheat-Rabi) is cultivate. In Bihar, Punjab and Tamilnadu it is time to harvest the corp. Rice and Sugarcane are the most important Kharif crops thus it find their place in Makar Sankranti delicacies. Wheat, Barley, Mustard, Sesame basically Rabi crops are cultivated from late October to March.
According to the different regional beliefs Makar Sankranti delicacies vary from one region to another region. Festivals have their own specialities. The only dish is Khichri which is common amongst many states, apart from this rice and pulse dish, sesame and jagerry are also consumed widely due to winter and also its heating properties.
Festivals remind us of our childhood. On Makar Sankranti we wake up early and take bath(it’s a mandatory) and Mother gives us Kala Til and Kacha Chawal to touch for 5 times. On Makar Sankranti, a bath in the early morning is said to remove all sins. The first thing which we get to eat is made of Til. Tilkut, Til ka ladoo, Lai, Chura dahi and Aloo gobi mutter ki subzi is served that day!!!
- Tilkut- Til is Sesame seed and kut is pound. The world famous Buddhist spiritual place Gaya is also known for the making of tilkut. The varieties of tilkut are endless like, chini ka, gud ka mawa wala, khoya bhara, khastha, rolls etc……. ‘Gaya ke tilkut ka koi sani nahi’.
- Til ka ladoo- Roasted sesame seed and gud ka paak (syrup) combined together and shape into a round ball. If keep it in an airtight container it will not spoil for few months. Both white and black are used to make the ladoo.
- Lai- Roasted rice flake/puff and gud/chini or gur ka paak (syrup) combined together and shape into a round ball. If keep it in an airtight container it will not spoil for few months. Ginger is also added to Lai by some people as ginger is always considered hot.
- Chura dahi- Chura is rice flake and dahi is curd. Chura is washed with water and later soaked in milk till it is fully absorbed then it is eaten with curd and gur/sugar.
- Dahi chura- The difference is, here the quantity of curd is more then chura approx. – 1/2 kg curd and 100 gm of chura. Rest of the process is same as Chura Dahi. Ask any Maithili Brahmin about this, he will proudly say how much he loves Dahi Chura.
- Aloo gobhi mutter ki subzi- This types of rasawala curry only Bihari/Jharkhandi can make. New potatoes boiled, peeled and cut into dices. Cauliflower florets fried in mustard oil. Fresh garden peas peeled and added. The curry is made with turmeric, garlic, red chillies, cumin and black pepper paste; Use of “sil batta” gives the unique taste.
- Khichri- Bihari khichri is the best. Arhar dal and Arwa chawal are cooked together with potatoes, cauliflower florets, fresh, green peas, turmeric and salt. Later give the baghar (tadka) of mustard oil, jeera, golki, lahsun, lal mirch and tejpata. Deshi ghee is added on top when khichri is being served.
I remembed, we friends enjoy playing guli danda or goli (Kancha) on Maker Sankranti……..
Milk and ghee are treated as ritually pure food thus every auspicious occasion is incomplete without their presence in. Secondly the best part of ritual ceremonies is that we get to seat on the ground (aashan) facing east or north in order to have food with a pin drop silence.
In Maharashtra people make tilguls and distribute among their family and friends. A Local says, ‘Tilgul ghya, god-god bola’ means distribute tilguls and speak sweet words. Tilguls made from til and sugar and til ladoos are from til and jagerry. This day Maharashtrian women play Haldi kumkum, as well as Goan does so.
Turmeric is used in Indian rituals and worship. Kumkum or red Tilak is made by powdering Turmeric and drying it after mixing it with Lime.
To Be continued…….
Written by Chef Ashwini | Blog
The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel Tenure: Since December, 2015 Position: Chef De Cuisine Employment History: ITC Hotels; The Oberoi hotels; Carlson hotels, The Claridges Hotels and Kempinski Hotels Have part of the various pre-opening restaurants at different capacities:- 360 restaurant at The Oberoi; NTC at Park Plaza ; Dilli 32 at The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel. Birthplace: Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand Education: Diploma in Hotel Management, Indian Institute of Business Management, Patna in the year 1994 – 1997.