Wednesday, April 15, 2009

bon appetit!

yesterday was vishu... which is the mallu new year ... it also happens to be the new year for tams... (if i don't mention this here, big boss will go 'hmmp' at me! :P )

like any other mallu festival, vishu is also just another excuse for mallus to go around wearing their crisp white shirts and starched dhotis and have a huge meal on a banana leaf...

no mallu festival is complete without a huge stomach-stretching meal! and its called a 'sadhya' and there's nothing sad about them except that we have only one stomach to stuff all the food into! these are literally mini-orgies where mountains (some might call them mounds, but that depends on which side of the vindhyas you are from!) of rice are polished off with almost a dozen other accompaniments... and you better not try say the names of the dishes to any hot-blooded north indian else he will bloody your crisp white shirt assuming you were saying rude things to him and his ancestors!

no mallu sadhya is complete without a few basic dishes including avial, olan or kalan, sambar, ingi-pulli, thoran, pachadi, papadam, payasam, banana chips, chakaraperati (sweetened banana chips)... trust me, all these dishes taste much better than they sound! :P

and then while i was recovering from a huge meal by wallowing all over the couch like a beached whale, i started thinking... which is what i do when i am full and satiated...
among other things i thought, i realised that its not only the mallu festivals which are about food...

most hindu festivals are gastronomical celebrations... and i think that's the single most important reason why kids love festivals and all of us have fond memories of festival celebrations... whether it is diwali or holi or vishu or pongal or navratri or teej or khojagiri or any other festival of any of the hundreds of communities in india always have some focus on the unique kind of food that is associated with that festival...

and somehow food plays an important part in these festivals because, i think, food generates a sense of well-being and prosperity and peace in the community... a well-fed person, like a well-fed lion, is always less likely to snap or growl or be a general nuisance to the soceity at large!

i'm all for all our festivals and i believe that they should be celebrated with all the elaborate ritual and gaiety... and on those days, keep aside your chronic concern for calories and just dig in... bon appetit! :)


Achintya said...

It was also Ugaadi, the Kannada new year although a lot of my fellow Kannadigas were terribly confused. :P

Another reason for celebrating festivals, I find, is to recollect the original act of celebration. For example, we celebrate Easter to commemorate the time when Jesus Christ dressed as a furry woodland creature and distributed sweets of an ovarian and cocoa origin, in order to spread his message of universal brotherhood; we celebrate Diwali to commemorate Rama's triumphant return to Ayodhya which he himself celebrated by bursting loud and polluting Chinese-made fire-crackers; we celebrate Holi to commemorate the day Prahlad, delighted at the death of his evil aunt Holika, by attacked random strangers with water and littered the streets of his father's kingdom with plastic bags.

It is important for us to remember these "historic" *cough cough* moments!

Suma said...

it was our new year (ugadi)too, and i'm not a kannadiga, nor a tam, nor a mallu :)

and i really miss the festivals, more for teh food, the tradition of asking the elder's blessings, everything associated with it..

avial...sweetened banana chips...yummm...lucky guy, who cooked all that?

and i'm sure you had a great vishu!

Anonymous said...

Wish there was some more festivity in the air :-(

But still we did manage to make up for the dullness that has crept into our lives. And so, we made sure that there were small things that did mark the wonderful day that it was (yesterday)...

Wishing everyone a wonderful and joyous year ahead..

Food lover said...

Happy New Year

Guruprasad said...

@ achintya : i think it was ugaadi for some of the kannadigas and not for the others :)
i liked your take on the history of some of these festivals... you must blog!

@ suma : does that make you a gult? happy new year anyway! :)

@ puja : thanks :)
i agree with that more festivity bit.

@ food lover : thanks :)

Suma said...

what's a gult?

Shalini Surendran said...

For me, this year's "Vishu" was different from the last several years!!
There was nobody to arrange the "kani", cook mouth watering "sadya", give pocket full "kai-neettam" and burst crackers till my ear drums burst!
However, I made myself happy wishing myself "Vishu - Aashamsakal". Rest of the day was yet another day at work sending and receiving emails :(