India is a land of festivals, with each festival having its own special significance. With over a dozen festivals being celebrated round the year, it is important that each of them do not lose out on its significance.
One of the easiest ways to ensure that such a thing does not happen is to accord a special food item to each of these festivals. That is exactly what our ancestors did and today most of us are able to associate any Indian festival (particularly the one we celebrated as a child) with a particular taste and flavour.
This concept is all the way more correct in the case of Makar Sankranti. One of the most widely celebrated festivals of the country, Makar Sankranti is celebrated in over 16 states.
Called Bihu in the eastern state of Assam, Lohri in the Northern states of Punjab and Haryana, Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Makar Sankranti in Gujarat, it is fair to say that this is one of the major festivals of India.
With a festival that is so widely celebrated, it is obvious that the food habits associated with it differ across the states. In the southern states, celebration of this festival is deemed to be unfit without eating the customary pongal.
So, read on to know more about the significance of the same.
Life Is A Combination Of Sweet And Spicy
Makar Sankranti is a harvest festival and since India is an agricultural country, our life pretty much revolves around sowing and harvest.
In recognition of that, the two varieties of pongal, viz., sakkare pongal and ven pongal are used to give your taste buds a taste of all types of flavors (this is similar to the sowing to harvest cycle making a farmer go through a lot of emotions ranging from hope, exhaustion and disappointment to bliss and fulfillment).
Traditional way of preparing the spicy delicacy of ven pongal are followed even today.
Since Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the harvest season, that is when most people are financially well off and can afford the best of ingredients that go into the making of this unique dish. Sakkare pongal has the best quality rice and mung dal cooked in a jaggery syrup and milk until the same attains a soft and creamy texture. It is then flavored with cardamom and clove and finally topped with ghee.
Easily Available Ingredients
As the festival is celebrated right on the onset of the harvest season, all the ingredients that are required in the preparation of pongal are available very easily.
Thus, having this item in the day's menu does not mean that the women of the house will have to run here and there to procure the items.
So, they are left with more time to enjoy the festivities while a delicious meal reaches the dining table.
With the festival of Makar Sankranti celebrated when winter is at its peak, the immunity in people seeps on at an all-time low during this period.
That is why diseases and illnesses are on the rise during such times. Items like clove and cardamom that go into the preparation of pongal are meant to boost the immunity in an individual and pave the way for a healthier lifestyle.
Building Stronger Bonds
The preparation of pongal is a long process and women of the household come together to ensure that what they prepare is the best in the locality.
This fosters a better unity among the women in the house, which in turn paves the way for a happier home.
Passing On Of The Traditions
With both parents earning these days and children having easy access to junk foods, most households are moving to a more western taste with respect to food that is served on the plate.
By preparing pongal on every Makar Sankranti, it is ensured that the children of the house have a taste of their culture and traditions.
If you take into account all that goes into the preparation of pongal, you will realize that it is a wholesome meal in itself. Thus, by eating the pongal on Makar Sankranti, you will be meeting all your nutritional needs on that auspicious day.
The Family That Eats Together, Stays Together
These days, it is seen that children of the house do not like anything other than pizzas and burgers. The elderly people, in turn, cannot take in anything that is spicy and opt for more of bland foods.
Thus, it is very rare that all the members of the family will have the same food. In a situation like this, pongal is a savior. It is a perfect combination of health and taste and that is why it appeals to people across all age groups.