This Ugadi the Kannada new year was fun. If the day was any indication as to how the year was going to be, I could not ask for more...not more love, family and great food, it was all there. Of course it has been ages that we celebrated Ugadi like that back home. Ever since my University days, my visits home was determined by the academic calender. My mother used to joke that it was Ugadi-Dipawali when ever I went home :) After university it was marriage and then relocation etc. But this time it had to be good after all, my sister was due to get married after Ugadi, so was my younger cousin. Therefore we all decided we will celebrate it together like we always did when we were kids; who know when our next Ugadi will be like that. We all got together, me, sister and my two cousins. As usual my mother was more than eager to feed us.
Our morning started early. By the time I woke up, mother was already in the kitchen, that means she had finished her oil-bath and prayers. She had also decorated the front courtyard with a small Rangoli. Rangoli is generally super fine granite powder. As an outline, clay is used. The picture below is that of the small Rangoli. Apparently it was still in the small hours of the morning that she finished her ritual bath and before she could start her ritual prayers, it is a practice to wash the front courtyard and draw Rangoli. Larger Rangoli would have taken her longer in the dark, so she did a small one just for the sake of practice. Then she happily went on to her prayers. Well all these before I could even stir out of my bed :)
Well after I woke up, well after day break, Mother decided to draw the festive Rangoli. In her dictionary it means covering the entire 20 feet or so of asphalt with a pretty Rangoli. So this is what we ended up with after a while or I should say a few hours.....
As a kid, I was raised in Mysore, where we always had asphalted roads, but back then in my grandmothers little town, they did not have asphalted roads, they had muddy roads. To tame the mud and the dust, it was a practice there to cover the courtyard with a thin layer of cow-dung. It was an art, to fetch fresh dung of the right consistency, mix it with just the right amount of water and spread it evenly. Even before the dung dries up, the Rangoli was drawn. It used to looks so pretty once it is all dry. I know there are a lot of people thinking 'yuk cow dung, that is obnoxious'. But then it was one of the most creative use of resources, no carbon foot prints, no imported coal-tar, no need of fancy equipments, engineers... Just some very creative use of what was available on hand. Of course if we think cow dung as a cheap source of cellulose and an insect repellant, it might be rather easy to accept this kind of usage.
Any ways we did not have anything like that this time around thanks to the asphalted roads. But I do miss it, was it not such an integral part of festivals?
Next was the 'Torana' programme. It is a practice to replace the 'Torana' -the string of mango leaves that hangs on the frame of the main door, with a fresh one on every major festivals. On Ugadi it is a must. These days of course the cheaper plastic version have taken the place of fresh mango leaves, but mon being old fashioned still insits on the fresh ones. It is a fun job. All of us cousins, three girls and a guy decided to take up the job as a team work. One of us picked and tore the right leaves, the other one held the string while one more stapled the leaves to the string. The brother had to tie the string to the nails on the door way. Finally fresh neem branches act as tassles at each end of the door way. It was so much fun making it all, one for the front door, one for the puja room and another for the back door. Boy! how much miss all such celebrations.
The centre piece of any Hindu festival needless to say will be the food. Especially so on important festivals like Ugadi, Gowri-Ganesha, Deepawali. Mother as usual was at her top form and by noon we were ready to dig in. Papa had got big Plaintain leaves, so green and so fresh. We spread it on the floor, squatted in front of it and were waiting for mom to arrive with all the side dishes. This was what my plate-leaf looked like.
This is definitely not the best of pictures, but I was so eager to finish the shots and start eating, I probably did not care for the pictures much. This is usually what is made in most Kannadiga homes on Ugadi. The dishes are as follows, the top row: Mango pickles, beans Palya , Cucumber Kosambari, Channadal Kosambari, Moongdal Kosambari, Peni Sandige, Ganghi sandige, Pakoda.
Bottom row: Rice and Obbattina Saaru, Payasa, Mango Chitranna , Hulianna, Obbattu . The rest of the recipes will follow soon. For now, it is time for me to linger over the pictures and the try to remember the few hours we spent together, like we always did when we were kids.