I wish my readers a happy Puthandu and Aluth Avurudda. It is India’s new year season. Each state has their own new year day. Today is an auspicious day of Puthandu (Tamil new year) and Aluth Avurudda (Sinhalese/Srilankan new year). Though are called by different names, Tamil and Srilankan new year falls on the same day, yet customs are a little different.
Makara Sankranthi is celebrated for three days. The first day is Bhogi. Bhogi in North India is known as Lohri. It is celebrated to mark the harvesting of winter (rabi) crops. The second day is Sankranthi which is dedicated to worshipping Surya (the Sun god), Varuna (the rain god) and Indra (king of gods). The third day is Kanuma which is dedicated to cleaning cows, farm animals, and farm equipment and also offering prayers to them for helping with a successful harvest season.
Lohri/Bhogi festival is celebrated on 14 January 2016. In South India Bhogi starts with Bhogi manta (Bonfire) in the early morning hours. People light a bonfire, offer prayers to fire god discarding outdated things and ideas and welcome new things and new ideas to prosper. In the evening Bommala Koluvu (arrangement of images of Gods, toys and dolls) is arranged at homes.
The weather is dry and bright. The people are gathering their diyas, cooking like crazy, and preparing for the influx thousands of tourists and the homecoming of far-flung loved ones. All of Mumbai, indeed all of India, is full to bursting with anticipation. This can only mean one thing: Diwali is upon us!
Often known (and literally translated) as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is one of the most sacred and beloved events in the Hindu calendar. Though it’s officially a holiday in 11 other countries (and one province in Pakistan), Diwali is most lavishly celebrated in India and Mumbai, its largest city. While the scripture behind Diwali varies between Hindu traditions, all celebrate a common theme: the power of humankind, guided by the light of self-control, furthered knowledge and compassion for others, to triumph over darkness and evil. In many traditions, Diwali marks the veneration of Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, and Dhanvantari, God of Hope and Healing.
With such a meaning, you’d expect bursts of color and light as far as the eye can see, and Diwali doesn’t disappoint! The whole of India hangs diyas, or colored lights, outside windows and doorways; they burn throughout the festival nights. Colorful floor decorations called rangoli dot the floors of homes and businesses. The streets are ablaze with lights, fireworks, and colored powder and abuzz with shopping and celebration akin to the West’s Christmas observance.
Welcome 5 day Diwali grand finale with Dhanteras. All India knows Dhanteras is about wealth and prosperity. Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, as well as the god of treasure Kuber, are welcomed to homes. Diyas, puja, new clothes, sweets, and rangoli are the main attraction of this auspicious day. Worshipping Goddess Lakshmi is believed to bring wealth and fortune. As the epic of King Hima’s wife explains how his wife saved husband from dying by placing a pile of gold and utensils. Epic started a tradition to purchase gold, silver jewelry, utensils and new clothes on this day.
Entire India is ready for Dasara aka Navratri. In Southern states, it is celebrated as Dasara, celebrating Rama’s victory over Ravana. It is celebrated as the victory of good over evil. As epic Ramayana describes the story of Rama. Rama was the prince of the Ayodhya kingdom banished into the forest by his step mother’s wish. While in the forest, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. Sita was abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Rama, assisted by an army of monkeys and Lakshmana, attacked Lanka to rescue her. The fierce battle went on for days between the two armies. It was difficult for Rama to kill powerful, compelling mighty Ravana. So he prayed for nine days to nine different avatars of goddess Durga and grew strength to defeat Ravana.
In the state of Telangana, batukamma is the largest festival, celebrated in grand scale for 9 days. Goddess Gauri a reincarnation form of Laxmi is worshipped on the name of Bathukamma. Of course, no celebration in any culture would be complete without food. 5 or 9 types of naivedyam (prasadam) called saddulu is offered to Goddess Gouri on the 9th day. Shown in the picture are Nimmakaya saddi, Nuvvula saddi, karivepaaku saddi, Palli saddi, perugu saddi and minappappu saddi. For those who don’t know the Telugu language, they are lemon rice, sesame seeds rice, curry leaves rice, peanut rice, curd rice, and black gram (urad dal) rice.
Onam is celebrated in the state of Kerala, in southern India. Onam is a 10-day harvest festival, also welcoming of the great King Mahabali. It’s a festival of rich in tradition, culture, food, rituals, and heritage. Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar – state of Kerala, India. Though the important day of Onam (known as Thiru Onam) in 2017 is on September 4, the festival starts 10 days before Thiru Onam, on Atham (August 25).
In the state of Kerala, India, Onam is a high spirited festival. Kochi, Trivandrum, Thrissur, Ernakulam, and Kottayam cities burst with colors, pookalam, the flower arrangements, prayers, traditional dance, music, and procession.
Sri Krishna Janmashtami is Lord Krishna’s birthday, one of Hindu’s auspicious festivals. As of today August 14th, 2017, we are celebrating 5244th Birthday of Lord Krishna. He was born 3228 BCE which is 5,200 years ago in the city of Mathura. He was born on the 8,63,874th year of Dwaparyug. Janmashtami is observed on the Ashtami (8th day) of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Bhadrapada (August-September). Krishna Paksha falls in those 14 days of the full moon to the new moon in the month of Bhadrapada according to Hindu Lunar calendar.
Raksha Bandhan which is also called as Rakhi is celebrated by Hindu’s in India and Nepal. Rakhi is multi-coloured silk thread, sometimes decorated with stones, pearls, glitter, and beads. Raksha Bandhan is observed in the month of August which is the month of Shravana according to Hindu lunar calendar.
The festival celebrates the sacred relationship, love, affection, fraternity, and sentiments of brother and sister. On Raksha Bandhan, sister puts kumkum and ties a rakhi on her brother’s wrist along with chanting prayers. Sister then feeds a sweet to her brother. Brother offers her a gift. It is concluded with Sister touching brothers feet for the blessing. This festival has evolved to honor the relationship between a sister and brother. On this auspicious day, brothers promise to their sisters to protect them from all harms and troubles and the sisters pray to God to protect their brother from all evil.
In India, there is no festival with out gathering and mouth-watering food. Food and gatherings are the celebrations of togetherness, happiness, bursting emotions. With this auspicious occasion, coming up, it’s time to spread some cheer! Spend time with family and friends, catch up, while making yummy food. It’s all for the family.
May this joyful season greet you with health and happiness. With the holidays coming up, it’s time to spread some cheer! Holidays mean spending time with family and friends, catching up, kids happily playing around and bonding…usually while waiting for food. And while food is a big part of most people’s holiday season, that doesn’t mean you have to go for the same unhealthy fare you grew up with. If you’re looking for a healthier way to celebrate, check out the healthy Indian food found on Ujwala’s delicacies. Motivate yourself, your family and guests with your healthy choices. Each of my healthy Indian recipes is made from fresh, whole-grain, never-canned, never-frozen ingredients. Don’t wait until New Year’s to start your healthy lifestyle. Check out my healthy Indian recipes today!