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Sweet Soiree: The real meaning of Makar Sankranti

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Any upcoming Festival starts making itself known in the heart of the city. Right now, Maruti Galli, Shahapur and Vadgaon Markets, Tilakwadi Deshmukh Road and RPD corner and markets elsewhere in Belagavi are abuzz with Tilgul, Kites, packed rotis and other sweets, gift items, and vegetables.

 Sankranti is the only Indian festival that comes on the exact date and celebrates the abundance of the harvest. It marks the beginning of the six-month period which indicates a northward movement of the Sun on the celestial hemisphere. In this period, the days turn bigger than the night.

The epicenter of the culinary adventure of Sankranti is undoubtedly the preparation of tilgul (sesame and jaggery) laddoos and vadis. Though the sugary white tilgul are sold merrily, one craves for the original ‘Yellu-Bella’ or Til-Gul which can be easily carried in pockets and shared with everyone.

In today’s world, we need to interpret Sankranti in a new context. Lest our kids forget, let’s make them understand the significance of Sankranti. Indian festivals are not about mindless superstition, they have key life lessons. At a time when people were not formally educated in schools and colleges, how else would they teach you about food, astronomy, and social skills of sharing, meeting, wishing well, and celebrating together?

sankrant

1.      Making Til Gul at home and distributing it personally to friends, neighbours and relatives.  It’s not just about mindlessly handing over sugary tilguls – which neither has Til (sesame seeds), nor Gul (jiggery) but harmful chemicals – with sweaty palms or feeding fistfuls in your mouth; it’s a cultural exchange. It is important to visit people’s homes and exchange sweets and sweet words, not just sending whatsapp messages. Visit people, carry goodies with you. Inquire about their well-being, tell them about your life. That way, we stay in touch and not become isolated.

tilgul

2.      Making Sajje rotti (Bajra Roti) and eating it with dollops of home- made white butter (yes, real home-made butter is unsalted, white and can be made at home easily by churning!), spicy brinjal bhaji, til , groundnut and Kortyachi chutney (gural chutney) with plenty of dry coconut in everything. Gul poli with ghee and milk. Seasonal, local, fresh is the mantra. What is the point in buying stale rottis or packaged tilgul if you can make it at home? All these dishes are made to fight the biting cold and the increased appetite during this season.

Bhogichi_Bhaji-sankranti

3.      Women organize Haldi-Kumkum and give something. It could be as small as a comb/bindi / kitchen utensil or something fancy, it is a mark of sharing whatever you have. Women also give a mixture of wheat with small Belagavi pea in the pod, juliennes of carrots, sugarcane and green gram (harbhara) in the Oti – all symbols of the abundance of the harvest season. Women come together, share their lives and socialize. If you are wise, invite all categories of women, irrespective of their marital or financial status.

sankrant haldi kunku

4.      Small kids celebrate their ‘Bor Nhan’ or a bath with whatever is abundantly available so that they are blessed with abundance forever. Other kids are also invited to partake in the festivity. The Bor Nhan comprises loads of sugarcane cubes, peapods, carrots, Battase, Churmure and even coins, gently poured over the child’s head , to be collected by other kids and enjoyed. Try to incorporate small gifts, toys or treats in it.

bor-nan

5.      Newlyweds celebrate their first Sankranti when the new bride is given Kaali Chandrakala or a black saree with silver butties. Black color absorbs heat in winter- hence the choice. The couple is made to wear Til Gul ornaments.

kali chandrakala

6.      Flying kites because the air is breezy and conducive to flying kites. Don’t even think of using Manja, the kite flies well with a simple thread too. It’s about a sport and not a competition to cut someone else’s kite and then run around streets blindly to catch it. Learn to enjoy each other’s success.  The risk of people getting injured with manja is a horrible nuisance. Stay away.

7.      Sankranti is not just about saying ‘Take sweet be sweet talk sweet’. That is so shallow. Practice what you say. Talk good to others and about others, be good and do good at all times. Wish them well, and share their happiness. Spread your sunshine like the sun. That way, we can truly make lives warm and sweet. 

gulpoli
sankranti

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