Saying it with sesame

Fun with family

Saying it with sesame

The City is bustling with activities. A tasty platter, fond memories and fun moments with family are what ‘Makara Sankranthi’ and ‘Pongal’ stand for. Bengalureans share their memories of the festivals and plans for this year.

It is a grand day for the Kannadigas, being the first official traditional celebration of the year. Chaitra HN, a software engineer with an IT firm, remembers spending the day at her grandmother’s place as a child. “I remember decorating the door with mango leaves and having sweet ‘pongal’ and ‘khara pongal’. In the evening, we would get dressed and go to other homes, exchanging ‘yellu bella’ (til and jaggery) and saying ‘consume this and speak good’. This is a tradition that we retain.” Chaitra says that since she doesn’t have an off-day this year, she will miss the festivities but will be sharing the festive cheer by taking ‘yellu bella’ for her colleagues at work.

Youngsters like Soumya S, Shivani Patil, Akshara B Shetty and Uthkarsha Balaram, say that shopping for new clothes and being with family are the best parts of the festivals. “I look forward to getting new clothes for the day,” says Shivani, who adds, “family time is a must”. Akshara says that the most exciting part of the festivals are always the sugar-candies. “I also loved the kite-flying sessions, when one can see colourful kites battling it out.”

Most like Sukruth MS, a senior process executive with Infosys, remembers the day as a fun holiday. “Family and sumptuous food is what the day is about,” he says.

“Since childhood, the day is all about being at my cousins’ place or them coming over to my house. We always enjoy the delectable ‘pongal’ and pick out the choicest colours and shapes in the sugarcane sweets. It is like a friendly competition, where the one who gets the trendiest shapes wins.”  This year as tradition, he will be celebrating it with family. “We will hang out together and then towards the evening, we will go shopping.” Sukruth says that the day also includes healthy discussions about the future. “Be it on a professional or personal front, the day is about letting bygones be bygones, making new decisions and sticking to them. The day is considered auspicious to initiate steps for the growth of an individual.”

On this day, when the sun moves to the Northern hemisphere, Aruna Shankar, a Telugite from Gudur, Nellore district, says that she was used to making ‘rangoli’ as a child. “In our hometown, we were used to making ‘moggu’ or the ‘rangoli’ as elaborately as possible, and it was like a competition. Every household would have these and this would be a way to keep traditions intact.” She points out that the festivities are very different in the City. “Sometimes it even feels that people just celebrate these days out of habit.”

She says that on the previous day of ‘Sankranthi’, they burn old things like wood “symbolising burning one’s ego and bad and old habits and starting afresh”. “On the main day, we are used to cooking outside and making sweet ‘pongal’.” She says that in the City, these traditions are done inside. “We were used to visiting our extended families and sharing a good time back home. Here the festivities are limited.”

The Tamilians in the City will be practising their own traditions for ‘Pongal’. Uma Chandran, a homemaker, says, “We prepare different things on the three days of the festival. The three days are like a mini fair for the foodies. We make ‘payasa’, ‘vada’, ‘kosambari’, types of ‘palya’ and ‘chitrana’ on the first day. On the second day, we make sweet ‘pongal’ by boiling milk and then add ghee to it. We shout ‘pongal o pongal’ after it’s cooked and offer it to the Sun god along with sugarcane and banana,” explains Uma.
     Rashmi Arun, apart from the ‘rangoli’, the decoration of the pot or the vessel used to cook the ‘pongal’ is a delightful memory.

“We decorate the pot with ‘haldi’ and ‘kumkum’ and then a string with turmeric is tied around the earthen pot. It is finally decorated with a flower. This pot is used to cook the ‘pongal’, where the milk is allowed to boil out signifying bringing in prosperity for the year through.”

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