Festivals are celebrated as a symbol of joy, gratitude or commemoration of any historic event. Lohri/Baisakhi/Sankranthi or Pongal (as it is known in Tamilnadu), is one such festival with unique regional significance. The festival is celebrated all over India mainly in the rural areas and has different names in each region.
Festival of harvest
is the major occupation of India, the produce of the cultivation is notable as
a festival lasting for four-days. The farmers offer their first produce of the
year to the sun God and share the joy with their families, also giving tribute
to the cattle, which helped in farming. In the more urban cities, we remember
the hardships that go into farming and thank God for the food we get. Almost
all the states of India celebrate the harvest festival with bonfires, feasts,
singing and dancing as the main festivities.
The four-day fiesta
The farmers celebrate their
harvest as a festival, very similar to the thanksgiving in the West. The name
of the festival is derived from a dish, which is prepared to mark the
celebration. It is a rice pudding made from freshly harvested rice, milk and
and feasts with the family marks the beginning of the four-day long
celebrations. The second day is dedicated to worship the sun God for granting
the gift of light for crop growth and so the grains and the harvest are
offered. The cattle help in ploughing the land and make it suitable for farming
so it is remembered during the harvest. The cattle, mainly the cow is bathed
and offered fodder. The fourth day is spent by visiting near and dear ones to
share the joy of the festival and as a sign of respect.
The festival is
a colourful concoction of traditional
that has been brought
down from our ancestors; mostly what they grew in their fields and gardens. A
wide variety of millets were preferred for breakfast and rice was very
occasional. Moreover, the rice was hand-pound, which was way more nutritious
than milled rice though it took longer time to be cooked. Jaggery or honey was
used as sweeteners. Fruits, vegetables were mostly grown in their gardens with
natural fertilisers. Ghee and gingelly oil were preferred and used instead of
vegetable oils and butter. Everything was homemade and healthy. Moreover,
cooking was done in pots of sand or iron, which added to the nutrient content
of the food. So when it comes to festivals, the same has been followed. The
women spent most of their time in cooking and gardening and to be lived
healthier with fewer diseases.
We have a choice
Obviously it is
not possible for us to practise the same but we can choose to adopt a few of
their food habits, which may benefit our health. Make use of brown rice,
jaggery, millets, pulses, which is available in the market. Rice is one of the
most nutritious foods as it contains fibre, protein, iron, B vitamins, zinc,
magnesium and selenium. Millets contain detoxifying agents like Quercetin, curcumin, ellagic acid, and various other
beneficial catechins that promote proper excretion and neutralize enzymatic
and vegetables in our daily diet, reduces the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes
, maintains healthy weight and
keeps cancer at bay.
We celebrate festivals to remember traditions,
so let's remember the healthy practices too, which were a part of their lives.
Once in a while, it is also good to go back and follow the pattern of food
intake of our ancestors for better health.