Tag Archives: festivals

Food Before Crackers

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Diwali definitely centers around food and crackers, and here food features prominently. Back home I remember my mom preparing ladoos, chaklis, and mathris among other things. Other than the ladoos it was whatever took our fancy. Sometimes, shakarparas, other times items for chaat.

In Maharahstra however all households prepare the same snacks, and in huge quantities. First off there are atta or wholewheat ladoos, and we finished making around 200 of those today. Definitely not a person job. Then there are sanjoris/karanjis, chaklis, sev, anarsa, shankarparas, and chiwda. Out of this some is consumed at home, while the rest is distributed to friends and family.

Luckily most of the food items get prepared by a cook who is hired by a few households. Basically you take all the ingredients and the storage boxes over to the house where the cook will prepare the snacks one person at a time. It took my MIL almost three hours to get ours prepared.

Here are a few of the yummy snacks. Don’t tell me you are not tempted to take a few bites!

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Ladoos

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Chiwda, shankarparas, and sev (L to R)

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Dagdusheth: Ganpati Fever

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Dagduseth

Dagdusheth

I know this is probably our third post on Ganpti and the entire Ganesh Chaturti festival (we did one last year as well), but it is probably because the festival holds so much importance. For me it was even more special because it is my first time actually witnessing it all! The craze from selecting which Ganpati to bring home, to daily aartis/pujas (prayers), street traffic (especially during the first and last day of the festival), to eating the yummy Modaks (traditional coconut stuffed sweets).

I actually didn’t bring Ganpati to keep in my house mostly because I had no clue what revolves around bringing him home. As my husband told me, you can’t just bring Ganpati home, you need to be prepared to hold daily pujas (which occur twice in a day), host lunches/dinners and take care of Ganpati. So I thought, why not just observe the festival this year and may be next year we can bring Ganpati Bappa to our house.

The most famous Ganpati, LalBaughcha Raja, sits in Mumbai, however Pune has its own infamous Ganpati and he is Dagdusheth. My sister-in-law and I decided that this would be the year we would wake up at 4 AM to go pay our respect to this infamous Ganpati and today we did just that! My husband thought we were insane to wake up (and take a shower-you can’t go to a holy place without being clean and fresh) at 4 AM. Now you may ask, why 4 AM? One needs to beat the crowds that line up to get a even brief sighting of the God.

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Lines leading up to where Dagduseth sits

Lines leading up to where Dagdusheth sits

We got to the central area where Dagdusheth sits around 5 AM and there were at least a 100 people there and more were on their way.  We quickly got our puja thalis (puja plates that hold sweet, coconuts, and auspicious flowers) and stood in the line. Tight security ensured a swift moving line and within no time we were in front of the mighty Dagdusheth himself. His golden trunk, ears, and crown sparkled and made even him even more majestic. Myth says that if you rub the belly of Lord Ganpati, any wish of yours will become true. Now, we weren’t allowed anywhere close to Dagdusheth, but still made our wishes with blind hope of them getting fulfilled. What did I wish for? Well, I am bit superstitious when it comes to actually sharing my wish 😛

Alive, Awake, Alert at 5 AM :)

Alive, Awake, Alert at 5 AM 🙂

Modaks are synonymous with the Ganpati festival and I too wanted to try one. Unfortunately, the coconut stuffed Modaks weren’t ready by the time we finished our prayer, so we settled on eating mini Modaks.  Visarjan (when people take their Ganpati idols and set him in the water) takes place next week and now I am even more excited to witness it.

Till then…Ganpati Bappa Moraya!

Ganpati Bappa Morya

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The 10 day Ganesh Chaturti begins on Monday and is celebrated widely in Maharashtra. And it is not just the locals who bring Ganpati home, but even those from outside the state who now call this place home.

A variety of idols on display

A variety of idols on display

I was just reading my post from last year, and I mentioned that we planned to visit Lalbaghcha Raja this year. But navigating the crowds with a newborn is something that neither of us are brave enough to go through.

We were originally planning on picking a baby Ganpati, since my baby reminds everyone of Ganpati but due to limited choices we picked a beautiful the Balaji Ganpati instead.

The idols are created in a variety of sizes, from just around six inches to massive 20 plus feet ones which are placed at neighborhoods and by social organizations.

We are in Nasik for the festival, and picked from a stall that specializes is eco-friendly Ganpatis from near the Civil Hospital. A friend of ours puts up a shop there every year and carries a huge selection, and everyone is the city should definitely check it out: Mahanth Ganesh.

I am going to leave you with a few pictures from our selection trip. Check out our Facebook page on Monday for how we decorated for Ganpati at home.

The Shiva Ganpati

The Shiva Ganpati

The Balaji Ganpati-this is what we picked

The Balaji Ganpati-this is what we picked

Dagruseth Ganpati

Dagruseth Ganpati

The super eco-friendly variety that is decorated only with turmeric

The super eco-friendly variety that is decorated only with turmeric

Rakhi: Celebrating Sibling Relationships

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It has been a while since I have written anything on this blog! I can blame this on work, but more than that I wasn’t sure of what to write. I was having a semi-writer’s block.

Living in India, or any country, is quite incomplete without participating in all the cultural rituals and traditions. Rakhi, an auspicious day where sisters tie a thread on their brothers’ left wrist and brothers in turn vow to protect them forever, was one such event that I never ever followed.  The simple reason being that I don’t have a brother and my cousin brothers were in India, so I never actually got to physically tie a rakhi to anybody.

So at the grand age of 27, I was set to tie my first Rakhi to my brother in law. All day yesterday, I was quite fidgety, much like the students I teach, in anticipation of tying my first rakhi in evening. Like most things, my concept of Rakhi was based on what I saw in TV serials and movies. Was it like this for all?

Like true Sikh/Punjabi style, our Rakhi was more about food 🙂 We all conjured at my Aunt’s place and in a matter of two minutes (more like 30 seconds), all the rakhis were tied, sweets and gifts exchanged (brothers give their sisters a small gift in return-could be chocolates, jewelry, clothes) and we were set to feast on some Chinese style appetizers, pizza and watermelon flavoured cupcakes. The family caught up on sharing jokes and stories.

My rakhi didn’t have any puja, music, or melodrama as portrayed in the TV dramas; it was more about the family meeting up and that is what makes it special. Bring on more of these traditions and I will gladly take part 🙂

I didn’t take pictures of myself, but in lieu of that, have included Rakhi celebration pictures from my school 🙂 photo 2-3

5B Magicians

5B Magicians

Holi Ke Songs

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On the festive spirit of Holi (it’s also my first Holi in 10+ years), let me share some of my favorite Holi songs that make this festival of colors so special and unique. Holi, usually held in March, the beginning of the Indian summer, is the perfect festival to drench your friends and yourself with colors and water. Dancing to some favorite and classic Bollywood tunes makes Holi complete.

Here are some the classic songs that should be on everyone’s playlist:

1) Rang Barse (from Silsila)

Amitabh sang this infamous tune that still is probably the most popular holi song. It makes you get into the Holi spirit instantly.

Amitabh singing the tunes of Rang Barse

Amitabh singing the tunes of Rang Barse

2) Holi Ki Din (Sholay)

Hema Malini, Damendara, and even Amitabh dancing and having a blast right before Gabbar attacks their village, who can forget this movie sequence? I probably think this is the song that made Holi songs a grand part of Indian movies.

The song that started the Holi craze.

The song that started the Holi craze.

3) Ang Se Ang Laga Na (Darr)

Have you ever seen Sunny Deol (known for his two left feet) dance? If no, this is the perfect song for it. Yash Chopra did it again (first with Rang Barse) in making an evergreen Holi song. Who can also forget Shahrukh disguised as the angry dhol wala (drummer) in this song?

Shahrukh partaking in the Holi spirit

Shahrukh partaking in the Holi spirit

4) Holi Khele Raghuveera (Baghban)

I think Amitabh Bachchan is the face of Holi in Bollywood. Almost 20 year after he drove the nation crazy with Rang Barse, he danced to Holi Khele Raghuveera with the dreamgirl herself, Hema Malini.

Amitabh and Hema Malini recreate the Holi magic in Baghban

Amitabh and Hema Malini recreate the Holi magic in Baghban

I am looking forward to dancing to these classics for Holi. What are you favorite Holi songs?

Interesting tidbit: the popularity of Holi can be witnessed in the 5K Color Runs being organized in numerous cities across the U.S., where runners are doused in different colors.