I started writing about the traditional food according to season in Indian culture a few months ago. The first post was ‘Food for season and tradition’
Today is 14th of January; is a very auspicious day in Hindu calendar. Today according to Hindu belief, the God Sun visits his son Shani (Saturn) who is the master of Zodiac sign Capricorn. It is called “Makar sankranti”. In sanskrit, Capricorn is Makar and transition is sankranti. Hence it is the day when Sun enters into the northern hemisphere; with astrological significance the Sun enters the Capricorn zodiac constellation. There are 12 zodiac signs and thus there are 12 transitions of Sun. But the most important is Makar sankranti, from Sagittarius to Capricorn. Makar sankranti signifies that we begin to enjoy a new light within ourselves as after this day the days start to become longer and warmer.
It is a major harvest festival and there by is for prosperity, and is celebrated in various parts of India with distinct names and rituals. In many states, it is celebrated with Kite flying festival. People offer thousands of their colourful oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites. The message intended is, “Rise higher like the kite’. Also at some places people offer donations. As bulls signify the harvest season, they are treated with respect and decorated with garlands and prayed to. Major cattle fairs are held at different places where many camels, bullocks and horses are sold and purchased by animal lovers.
Since the festival is celebrated in mid winter, food prepared for this festival is such that it keeps the body warm and gives high energy. In state Maharashtra, people make sweets with sesame seeds, clarified butter and sugar or jaggery (a traditional uncentrifuged sugar). People exchange these sweets and greet each other by saying `til-gul ghya, god god bola’, meaning accept the sweets and speak sweet. Basically, it is to resolve all sorts of misunderstanding during the past year and remain friends. For lunches, a mixed vegetable curry (although it is very thick) is made using fresh vegetables available during this time of year, specially carrots, beans, aubergine (eggplant), peas, potatoes, peanuts, sesame seeds, grated fresh coconut meat and lot of fresh corriander. Breads are made with sesame seeds and either pearl millet floor or wheat flour. Pearl millet flour gives lot of energy and specially eaten during winter season. Another kind of sweet bread is also made with a special filling which includes sesame seeds, peanutnut powder and jaggery.
According to Ayurveda, winter season is for consuming healthy food. Eating nuts, fresh milk products, fats, protiens and sweets made from fresh ingedients are good to retain heat and energy of our body. It is also advisable to drink warm water and ginger tea.
More information on Makar sankranti: