Wish You a Happy Pongal and Sankranti 2021

by Shobha Hegde
P{ongal 2021

May the sweetness of gur, doodh and kaju bring happiness into your life. A very happy Pongal and Sankranti!

The land of festivals India. India celebrates the harvest festival at different times throughout the year. Owing to the diversity in climate and difference in a region’s staple crop. Hindu regional calendars have two elements lunar and solar. The lunar-based on the moon’s movement and counts from full moon to the full moon. Many regions begin the local, new year with the commencement of the lunar calendar. Sankranti marks the beginning of the new year, the traditional  Hindu solar calendar.  India celebrates with distinct names Bihu, Pongal, Makara Sankranti, Lohri. Rituals in different parts of the country. The festival holds an eternal meaning to it. Makar Sankranti commemorates the beginning of the harvest season. Cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The Sun’s movement from one zodiac sign into another called Sankranthi.  The Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makara Sankranthi. One of the few Hindu festivals celebrated on a fixed date. ‘Thanksgiving’ festival celebrated to thank the SUN God. Farmers thank in getting better-yielding crops. During the festival, people reject old belongings and welcome new stuff.

Indian festival occasion. People wear new clothes,  pray to God, and make traditional food offer to their ancestors. Rangoli a shobha-hegde-fermentation-stationbeautiful ornate drawings and patterns on the ground drawn in front of their homes. Visit near and dear ones to get blessings from elders. Since my childhood, I like to draw rangolis. In Hindu scriptures, a belief that rangoli has drawn to welcome Lakshmi. The Goddess of Prosperity, into the home and drives away the evil spirits. Rangoli has drawn throughout the year in most homes in South India. Significance of rangoli during festive, add colours to look more attractive and beautiful. I begin my festival with a beautiful rangoli in my front yard entrance. Later take a bath, start cooking with traditional recipes necessary for a festive occasion.

There are different varieties of dishes prepared during Sankranti. The most popular dishes prepared for the Sankranthi festival is PONGAL. Tradition sweet Pongal made with rice+lentil (yellow moong)added jaggery. Jaggery is Indian unrefined cane sugar and has molasses-like flavour and taste. Cardamom powder, Cashews, raisins temper with ghee enhances the taste and flavour Pongal

The right indulgences can fuel us. Sweet Pongal holds some nutritional value. It is a well-known fact that sweet food acts on the taste buds. Sweet dish first improves the flow of digestive secretion. The sugary dish is easier and more enjoyable to consume—low-nutrient carbohydrates than any nutritional and healthy food.

If we delve into the real impact of a favour, done without calculating the returns, it is faster than the ocean.

Tiruvalluvar, Kural

It is always important to focus on consuming a well-balanced diet. Crave for desserts in a healthier and tastier version not to compromise sweet taste buds. Rice is a cereal very divine offered on festivals for deities.  Rice offerings sacred and divine. This year made an upgrade on my sweet Pongal.

1. Use grain or fibre-rich rice.

Butterfly pea flower TeaMy sweet Pongal recipe had cooked brown rice. Brown rice has many vitamins and minerals. It contains Iron, manganese, phosphorous. If you don’t like brown rice substitute with any other grains with higher protein levels than rice. I add moong dal. It is a bean versatile and high in nutrients and believed to aid many ailments. It is one of the best plant-based sources of protein.

  • Rich in  healthy nutrients
  • High antioxidants levels may reduce chronic disease risk.
  • Rich in potassium, Magnesium and Fiber, which may reduce blood sugar
  • May lower Bad LDL cholesterol levels reducing heart disease.

If love and virtue pervade the family life, they become the character and fruit of the family life.

Tiruvalluvar, Kural

2. Add more Fiber

The traditional sweet Pongal prepared with jaggery, better than sugar which contains molasses. I have used sweetener as dates that have 6g more fibre than the traditional dish. Adding fibre helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood.

One who feels envious of the wealth given away as charity, will have even his kin suffer without anything to wear and eat.

Tiruvalluvar, Kural

3. Dairy alternative milk

Home made peanut butterMilk adds a creamy texture and flavour to the dessert. Coconut milk is high in calorie food. 93% fat, including saturated fats. It contains many other nutrients.

4. Reduce unnecessary fat

Ghee has 50% saturated fat. Adorning dish with lots of ghee and cashew, raisins( unhealthy). My personal opinion it is not necessary for my family on daily use. I roast the cashews and raisins which have natural fat and add to any sweet dish.

Finally, Offering to the Sun God sweet Pongal as part of the Thanksgiving ritual or puja with traditional attire. Our ancestors prepare this dish to signify and celebrate prosperity after the harvest.

Crave for sweets makes you happier. Enjoy Sweet Pongal with your sweet tooth,  healthier and wholesome dish.

Read my other personal articles here.

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