11 Jan National Celebrations and Its Connection with Food
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Let’s go back to the time the air is filled with the aroma of spices, the sound of folk songs, and the crackling of bonfires. It’s that time of the year when India transforms into a culinary wonderland during the harvest festivals. Lohri, Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Bihu – they’re not just names; they’re invitations to a gastronomic journey that celebrates abundance and new beginnings. All these national celebrations or festivals are about to come again this mid-January 2024.
Lohri: From Punjab
In the northern realms of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, Lohri ignites the harvest season with massive bonfires and folk songs. But let’s get to the good stuff – the food. Imagine a plate graced with sarso ka saag, a creamy dance of mustard greens, spinach, and bathua leaves, twirling with makki di roti, a maize flour flatbread. The sweet symphony continues with til laddoos, pinni, and the irresistible Gajak – a crispy delight with sesame seeds, peanuts, and jaggery. Lohri, where folklore meets bhangra and food is the star of the show!
Pongal: From Tamil Nadu
Down south in Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh, Pongal unfolds a four-day saga celebrating the golden grains of rice. Picture rice boiled in milk and jaggery, bubbling over in abundance. Sakkarai Pongal, Venn Pongal, Puli Pongal – the varieties are as rich as the traditions. And as if that’s not enough, payasam, tangy lemon rice, and medu vadas join the festive feast. Sharing is caring, so they say, and communities share their culinary love to welcome prosperity.
Bihu: Assamese Bliss
In Assam, Magh Bihu sets the stage for a seven-day celebration filled with bonfires, traditional games, and, of course, delectable dishes. Pitha, the star of the show, comes in various avatars – sesame, coconut, jaggery, and more. Laai Xaak Khaar, a sabzi with mustard greens, adds a spicy twist. It’s a festival where every day brings a new dish to the table, from aloo pitika to masor tenga, leaving taste buds in a state of perpetual celebration.
Uttaran: Gujarat’s Kite-Flying Experience
As the sun moves to warmer territories in Gujarat during Uttaran, kites fill the sky, and so does the aroma of bajra no khichdo and undhiyu – a mix of seasonal veggies that’s like a party on your palate. And don’t forget the sweet touch with til ladoos and Surati gulab jamun. In Uttaran, the longer days call for longer feasts, and Gujarat knows how to throw a culinary fiesta in the sky.
Makar Sankranti: From Maharashtra
Ah, the symphony of Makar Sankranti echoing across India! In Maharashtra, it’s puran poli and til gul; in Odisha, it’s akara chaula. Bengal flaunts patishapta, nolen gurer payesh, and gokul pithe. Regional variations, diverse flavors – all united in the celebration of the first sugarcane harvest. Each state has its own food story to tell, a tale of tradition, sweetness, and festive fervor.
Makaravilakku: From Kerala
In Kerala, the annual Makaravilakku festival at Sabrimala shrine isn’t just a pilgrimage; it’s a culinary journey. Devotees embark on an arduous pilgrimage, surviving on satvik bhojan, limiting rice, and abstaining from meat. Picture the devotion in each bite of puzhukku, a local dish with yam and tapioca. And as a sweet crescendo, aravana payasam, a dessert made with rice and jaggery, steals the spotlight.
So, there you have it – a culinary carnival that spans the length and breadth of India, each harvest festival telling a unique tale through its food. It’s not just a celebration; it’s a symphony of flavors, a dance of traditions, and a feast for the soul. Harvest season in India isn’t just about crops; it’s about crafting a culinary masterpiece that leaves everyone craving for more.