Poush Sankranti: time for new harvest, kites, Ganga Sagar Snan and Mela, pitha, puli, payesh
English months January–February, that is the months of Poush-Magh-Falgun in Bengali calendar, are the months for celebration of new harvest. Ours being predominantly an agrarian society, harvesting festival is celebrated across Indian. Known by different names in different parts of the coiuntry- Poush Sankranti in Bengal, Makar Sankranti in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka ect, Maghi in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Lohri in Punjab, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Uttarayan in Gujarat and Rajasthan, Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu in Assam- with some regional variation, it is celebrated with much fan fare in all most every household. It is also celebrated in Nepal –Maghe Sankranti, Myanmar-Thingyan, Cambodia-Maha Sangkran, Thailand-Songkran- again mainly agrarian economy.
Although the festival has a religious tonality, in the rural areas, where people still depends on agriculture, everybody celebrates the harvesting festival and takes the opportunity to pray to their God: the land and the crop. In West Bengal this day is also marked by Ganga Snan: a dip in the ocean where Ganges drains in to the sea is considered to be of great religious significance. It is believed that taking holi dip during this time of the year cleanses all sins. In other part of the country, the sky will be like a rainbow with kites flying from every rooftop. In Delhi, I remember we used to have bonfire and dance around it while throwing peanuts, popcorn etc into the fire.
Although the festival is a more rural festival, urban household celebrates it too with special emphasis beings food. Hence, it is also known as Pithey Parbon. Both my parents’ household, being agrarian celebrates it in a big way. Although, they have not been farming for ages now, it remains one of the most important festivals along with Noboborsho (Bengali New Year), Lakshmi Puja, Boter Bhat. I do not remember any pujo’s or praying associated with the festival, however my grandmothers, my mother, and all my mashi’s would make pitha and serve it to their God during evening prayers. I like the idea that we are celebrating harvesting festival. With time, we are forgetting our farmers, that our country is essentially an agriculture-based economy, that we have horrible agriculture policies and that every year we have farmers committing suicide. When we are so busy with our life, maybe a festival likes this with all focus on the food and pitha and payesh, we would at least think about the people who are making it all happen.
I am celebrating the day with the hope that I will be able remember my original background that is rooted in the land. I have made Pati Shapta, Malpua, Dudh Puli and Bhapa Pitha for the day. My father is super excited about it. He thinks although it is more about eating now, it still has the power to push people to think about farmers. I believe him.
Here are the recipes for the Pithas that I made:
For Recipe of Pati Sapta Pitha click here
For Recipe of Dudh Puli click here
For Recipe of Malpua click here
For Recipe of Bhapa Pitha Click here
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