A dawn of hope

A dawn of hope

Varied celebrations

A dawn of hope

This is the season of new beginnings. With ‘Vishu’, ‘Puthandu’ and ‘Bihu’ falling today, Keralites, Tamilians and Assamese, who have made Bengaluru their home, are going back to their traditions and partaking them to the fullest.

For ‘Vishu’, the ‘Vishukani’ plays a pivotal role, says Darsana Arun, a homemaker. “The ‘kani’ includes fruits and vegetables of the season like mango, cucumber and jackfruit, the ‘kanni konna’ flowers, gold coins and jewellery, and ‘kasav mundu’.

It also includes a ‘vaalkannadi’ (mirror) which is placed along with Lord Krishna’s idol,” says Darsana. She says that most of the items placed in the arrangement are golden yellow in colour signifying prosperity and success. By tradition, this setup is prepared the night before and is the first thing the members of the family see in the morning.

The younger lot like Darsana’s son Parthip are excited about the ‘kaineettam’. “The elders of the family give money to the younger ones so as to be blessed with monetary benefits through the year,” she says.

No festivity is complete without the special food. Jalaja Shivankutty informs that the ‘Vishu Sadya’ includes items like ‘sambhar’, ‘pulisheri’, ‘erisheri’, ‘pachadi’, ‘upperi’, ‘injipulli’, ‘kalan’, ‘olan’, ‘avial’ and 2 types of ‘pradaman’.

Similar to these festivities is the Tamil New Year, ‘Puthandu’, where there is an elaborate arrangement too. The puja of the ‘panchangam’ is done while the specialities include ‘raw mango pachadi’, which includes dried neem flowers. This is symbolic of  the sweet, sour and bitter elements of life.

“The beginning of the new year is marked by this day. A 2-feet mirror is decorated and kept in the ‘puja’ room near which ‘kumkum’, ‘archana’, turmeric, ‘akshada’, betel leaf, coconut and fruits of the season are placed,” says Vidya Ramamurthy, an entrepreneur. She adds that the mirror is meant to offer a reflection of the arrangement. “This is meant to double the blessings,” she says.

“Neem and mango are the produce of this time of the year and they should also be consumed.” The menu for the day includes ‘uzhunthu vada’, mixed vegetable ‘sambhar’, tomato ‘rasam’, ‘poriyal’, ‘manga pachadi’, ‘paruppu poli’ and ‘semiya payasam’.

“Since it is the first day of the year, one is supposed to have food that is sweet and sour in taste. We make ‘vella aval’, which is handed out as prasad with ‘neem’,” says Vidya. She says that over time, things have changed.

“Festivals have transformed according to convenience,” she adds. The Assamese new year, ‘Bihu’, is also celebrated today. Pranami Bordoloi, a student of Vydehi Dental College, says that though she misses the festivities, she hopes to celebrate the day with her extended family here. “The day is about fun and gaiety and includes our traditional dance ‘Bihu’,” she says.

“‘Jetuka’, a paste made out of ‘mehendi’ leaves is applied on the hands. Women wear ‘mekhela chador’ and men wear ‘dhoti’ on the day. Meeting elders and seeking their blessings is a big part of the day.” Pranami says that ‘laddoo’ and ‘pitha’ are some of the delicacies.

Montee Borkotoky points out how the Assamese celebrate 3 ‘Bihus’ in the year and ‘Bohag Bihu’ or ‘Rongali Bihu’ is the ‘Bihu of merriment’. “This is the one we celebrate in a grand style.  The first day consists of the ‘Goru Bihu’, which is dedicated to cattle, where people back home apply a paste made of gram flour, mustard oil and ‘haldi’ on them. Today is ‘Manuh Bihu’ and we apply the same paste and take bath,” says Montee.

“We enjoy the ‘jolpan’ along with other traditional dishes. We also give gifts to each other as a part of the celebration,” she adds.”

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