In my attempt to teach my four year old daughter about Hindu culture, I was explaining her this morning that it’s the start of Navratre- Nine days of prayer/religious festivities and we should abstain from eating meat. Hence the idea to write this blog post.
Let’s talk about Navratri/ Navratre and Gudi Padwa- two important Hindu Festivals.
Gudi Padwa or Samvatsar Padvo is celebrated as the first day of the year by Maharashtrians (People residing in Maharashtra region of India) and Konkanis. On this day new Samvatsara, which is cycle of sixty years, starts.
Gudi Padwa is celebrated as Ugadi by the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Both Gudi Padwa and Ugadi are celebrated on the same day which was yesterday i.e. March 31st 2014..
Gudi Padwa is Marathi New Year according to Luni-Solar calendar. Luni-Solar calendars consider the position of the Moon and the position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. The Hindu New Year based on Solar calendar is known as Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Pana Sankranti in Orissa and Naba Barsha in West Bengal.
The day begins with ritual oil-bath followed by prayers. Oil bath and eating Neem leaves are must rituals suggested by scriptures. North Indians don’t celebrate Gudi Padwa but start nine days Chaitra Navratri Puja on the same day and also eat Neem with Mishri on the very first day of Navratri. As a kid, I loved Navratri because we got to eat Poori, Kale Chane and Halwa.
Some of the festivities of Gudi Padwa and Navratre include spring cleaning the houses, buying new clothes, family gatherings and making rangoli. Traditionally, families are supposed to begin the festivities by eating the bittersweet leaves of the neem tree. Sometimes, a paste of neem leaves is prepared and mixed with dhane, gul/gur (known as jaggery in English), and tamarind. All the members of the family consume this paste, which is believed to purify the blood and strengthen the body’s immune system against diseases.
Some recipes that are specially made during these occasions include: Puran Poli (Sweet Indian flatbread stuffed with Lentils and coconut), Jeera Aloo ( spicy Indian style potatoes flavoured with cumin seeds), Sago Kheer ( Sweet Indian pudding made with Sago Pearls) and Rice Kheer ( Rice pudding). Various Indian sweets like coconut burfi , Khoya Burfi and Til Ladoo are also made.
Many people choose to fast during Navratri and they eat only fruits, certain sweets like Ghiya Halwa– Squash Pudding, dry fruit and plain yogurt or raitas like Ghiya/Lauki Ka Raita , Aloo Raita etc. There are many variations to fast keeping rules but one thing that is common among all Navratri fasting is that one is suppose to refrain from eating any grains.
Wishing you all a very happy Navratri 2014 from Eateastindian team. May Goddess Durga bless you with her choicest blessings.