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Ugadi And The Tastes Of Life

By Subodini Menon

Ugadi is an Indian festival that is celebrated to mark the beginning of the regional calendar. The festival also marks the onset of the spring season. Ugadi is symbolic of fresh starts.

As the spring season arrives, mother earth gets a respite from the harsh climate of the winter and is blessed with fertility and youth. Just like that, we humans get a new start, a second chance at life.

The deep symbolism of the festival of Ugadi doesn't end here. Every aspect of the celebration of the festival can be explained with science, religion and legends. One such tradition is the act of eating something bitter and something sweet on the day of Ugadi.

The Significance Of Bevu Bella

Food is an integral part of any festival in India. Each festival has special dishes that are prepared on the day. Bevu Bella is an indispensable dish as far as the festival of Ugadi is concerned. It is a powder made from neem, tamarind and jaggery.

The concoction is sweet, bitter and sour, all at the same time. This teaches us that our lives cannot be stagnant and we are constantly bombarded with the waves of good times and bad.

The tradition of having Bevu Bella tells us that we need not despair if sadness haunts us, as happiness is just around the corner. And if we are surrounded by happiness and joy, we must remember that this phase too will pass. Therefore, we must enjoy every moment while it lasts.

The Ugadi Pachadi

Another interesting dish that is prepared on Ugadi is the Ugadi pachadi. This dish is unique, as the main ingredient used is the flowers of the neem tree. The other ingredients are quite surprising too, as it is not common to see these in a dish together.

Each of the ingredients has a special significance. Though very different from each other, the ingredients blend very well together and they make up for a very tasty dish.

The ingredients used are neem flowers for their bitterness, banana and jaggery for their sweetness, pepper or green chilli for the hotness, salt for some taste, tamarind for the sourness and raw mango for tanginess.

The flowers of the neem tree symbolize the disappointment one may encounter in life. Jaggery and bananas stand for the happiness showered on us.

Pepper and green chillies represent the anger we may feel. Salt symbolises all the fears that we may encounter. Tamarind is for all the disgust we may feel and the mango stands for the surprises that may come our way.

As mere humans, we must learn to embrace all of these feelings and emotions. We must accept whatever comes our way, believing it to be the Almighty's gift. Above all, Ugadi and its traditions teach us that life encompasses everything - the bad, the good and everything in between.

As we stand on the brink of another new year, we must learn that whatever happens, well, it happens for a reason and we must stay positive in the face of whatever awaits us in the future.

Read more about: ugadi festival recipes
Story first published: Friday, March 24, 2017, 15:09 [IST]
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