Rongali Bihu

Rongali or Bohag bihu is a harvesting festival. It is celebrated in Assam. Bihu is originally of three types-Bohag bihu, kangali bihu, Magh bihu.
The Rongali bihu is celebrated for four to five days. The rituals continue for three days and there are seven phase-Chot,Raati,Goru,Manuh,Kutum,Mela,Chera. Goru bihu is the first day of rongali bihu. On this day livestock and cattles are taken to the river and they are bathed using turmeric and other herbs.
On manuh  bihu day the people take bath early in the morning and then the children they take blessings from their elders. Everyone wear new cloths, pithas  are the main cuisine of this day. Rice is prepared in bamboo sticks.
On Mela bihu day cultural programmes are organized on fields people dance and sing bihu songs. Nowadays every year new bihu albums are released before the festival.

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Rongali bihu also marks the Assamese and Bengali new year. The first day of Baisakh is called Sankranti. On the last day of chaitra month various dishes like Aam  dal,Pachan, Bitter guard curry and other sweet dishes are prepared. These dishes are then eaten with great relish on the next day.People wear new clothes on the new year day. They take blessings from their elders and visit their relatives.
In Punjab Sankranti is celebrated as Baisakhi. Many tragic stories are related to this day. During British rule in the year 1913  many people were killed by British , General Dyer who ordered mass killing in the Jallianwala Bagh.This day also marks the establishment of Khalsa among the Sikh and the Punjabi new year. Food items like makkai ki roti, and Sarson da saag are the main cuisines of this day.

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Nowadays though this festivals are celebrated yet it is not like the good old days. People are to busy to spend a second without thinking about themselves or taking up time to visit their relatives. These festivals are the only times when we get some break from our busy lives and enjoy our it to the full.

Ram Navami

This is the day when lord rama was born to Dasharath and queen kaushalya in Ayodhya, presently located in Uttar Pradesh. He is said to have been born on Shukla paksh  in the ninth day of Chaitra month. He had three other brothers who were born to the two other wives of the king. Lord rama is said to have been the incarnation of lord Vishnu and took birth on his own will to destroy the Devil Ravana. Ram was the seventh incarnation and was born in the treta yuga,followed by satya yuga.
At some places this festival runs for nine days and is also called Sri Ram Navaratra. Bhajan and kirtan are organized during those few days and prasad is distributed after the completion of the puja. On the eighth day people take bath in the river which is called Ganga Snan, this done based on particular timings mentioned by astrologers. In the South India this day is celebrated as the wedding ceremony of Lord rama and his wife sita. Ramasita kalyanam, wedding ceremony of the divine couple are held all around in South Indian temples.Ram navami is celebrated lavishly in places like Ayodhya, Sita Samhit Sthal, Bhadrachalam, Rameshwaram. 

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Rama

Lord Rama was also known as ‘Maryada Purshottam Ram’ which means he had the wisest character as a husband, son and father.He ruled his kingdom peacefully. It was a rare time when all his subjects were happy, healthy, they were not subjected to torture, abasement. They worshipped their king like a god with respect, this is called Ram Rajya

. To think of such a situation now in the country is like trying to move a mountain. I will not say this is impossible, it is totally possible if we elect proper leaders whose main aim is to develop the country and not his or her own property.

Holi-A festival of colors

Calling this festival simply as the festival of colors is not enough it’s the festival of unity in diversity. It is enjoyed by individuals of different regions of the nation.

There are many mythological stories associated with this festival.The most famous ones are that of lord Krishna and Radha and that of Prahallad and Hiranyakashap.

According to the first legend lord Krishna used to spray colors on the gopis while he was in Vrindavan. That’s why on the purnima before holi people worship lord krishna first and then they put colors on him.This is called Dol purnima.  The color is called Abeer, is put on his feet as a way of seeking the lord’s blessings.

The second legend is a bit different it is said that Prahallad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu was the son of a devil Hiranyakashyap.The devil in order to kill his son for praying the lord called his sister Holika. She had the blessings of lord Brahma and would not die even if she sat on fire.This get interesting when she sits with prahallad on the fire and gets herself burnt instead of him.  From that day onwards people in some of the regions burn holika before the day of playing holi.

But these traditions are not followed nowadays. Youngsters start playing holi much before holika is burnt or much before dol purnima. For their personal enjoyment they have stopped following the traditions and customs.

Holi also has great biological significance since march and april are the months when people are more likely to get sick with skin diseases like chicken pox and other such diseases the colors of holi are said to keep such diseases off of us. Again during this people are more lazy than ever because of the change in season from winter to summer, the activities of the festival makes them work out their drowsiness.

People also clean their homes during holi making it more hygienic.

Now let’s move to the food section thandaai and bhang are one of the famous drinks of holi. Drinking it does make the people little drowsy but not drunk. They are naturally made beverages. Thandaai is basically prepared using milk,water, sugar, almond,poppy seed,fennel , fresh rose petal and cardamom powder. To go with it you may add 2-3 optional ingredients.  Bhang is prepared using Marijuana leaves,milk,sugar
,water,almond, clove, cardamom, ginger, rose water, Cinnamon etc.
Gujia, Papri, Dahi Valle are some other favored delicacies of Holi.

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Gujia

Holi is played in different regions in different ways one of the most famous is the lath mar holi of Barsana region of India.It takes place days before actual holi, the man of Barsana visit Nandgaon region and sing provocative songs, the women of the village then act as if they are provoked and playfully beat the man with lathis   who in turn protect themselves with shields and all this take place near the radha rani festival. Thousands of tourists witness this festival every year.

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Lath mar holi

In mathura holi continues for at least 16 days.
But in the major cities of the country this festival has taken a total different turn . Holi is organized by different clubs there people play holi using balloons, pichkari and abeer. The cultural importance is almost lost. Boys and girls drink thandaai and bhang and get themselves drunk totally. Lots of accidents also take place during this festival.One of the most recent one in which 5 people were fatally killed due to their own mistake took place last year.Girls are molested every year during this festival , since the faces are covered with colors so guys take it as  a chance to have their ways with us.
So girls be careful these two days about whom to trust. Don’t go into the sweet talks, be aware. And all of my fellow bloggers a very HAPPY HOLI to all of you.

Makar Sankranti-A harvesting festival

This is a puffed rice pithas its is placed in sugar syrup
This is a puffed rice pithas its is placed in sugar syrup

IMG_20150114_155010Today it is the last day of the month posh as in the Hindu calender or you may say the calender started by Kanishka Maharaja.But some may consider that sankranti was on 14 January.This occurs particularly because of the tithis in panjika which are based on movement of sun and stars.On this day people take early morning bath in the rivers, thanking the Sun god.On this day according to Indic Solstice the sin enters the zodiac sign Makar or Capricorn.

Let me start with the state where I live its Assam and here people call it Bhogali Bihu.Since it is a harvesting festival ,so the food items are mostly prepared from the crop products, they are called pithas. Pit has are of different types there is Narikal pitha which is cylindrical shaped and laddoos are made from sesame. People sing and dance on bihu songs, they sit around bonfires particularly because it is winter out here.

Next I’ll talk about my native state West Bengal, even in this place various types of pithas are prepared.Traditionally there was a rule that the women of the house would bath at night and they would sit near the bonfire to prepare the pithas and their male counterparts would guard the house.On the night of sankranti thieves generally try stealing pithas and other households , so it was necessary to protect the house.

Here is a  story that I’m sharing.First hand you must know that in some parts of Assam the homes are made using and the walls are bamboo walls which can be removed when necessary.Last year after sankranti our maid servant didn’t come to work for almost a week. We were quite angry with her because we thought she had left without any premonitions.
After a few days when she visited us, she was completely devasted.When asked the reason , she said” Didi I had to construct a new house”, ” why, What happened to the old one?” I asked, she started crying and between sobs she replied “The theives they took everything with them including the walls,except the bed where I was sleeping.” This winter she had a brick walled house prepared.I guess there should be no more problem.

Coming back to food and pit has I must say a variety are prepared here .Some with rice powder,flour, milk, coconut etcetera.

Next comes the south Indian state Tamil Nadu here it is called Thai pongal.On this day people boil rice in large sauce pans in their porch under the sun and add milk , cardamom, green nuts in it.This is a sweet dish .They wear new clothes.But this traditional system is not followed nowadays.

Even if we consider the pithas of Assam and Bengal they are prepared almost two-three days prior to the main day. Its just because of the busy lives of people that we have to consider such shortcuts.

Now moving towards the state of Punjab .Here the festival is called Lohri, celebrated to mark the end of Winter.People dance bhangra and gidda around bonfire.Some people they move door to door singing songs.They are never returned empty handed. The punjabis prepare Sarso da saga,Makki Di roti, Gajak during Lohri.

Some sections of Sindhi call it as La Loi.

In andhra Pradesh the day preceding sankranti is called Bhogi on this day people forget about old things and discard them , then start on a new way.

In Gujarat Major Sankranti is celebrated by Kite flying and is called Uttarayan. Then kite or manjha is prepared in the homes of Gujarat a month prior to the festival.Iti marks the beginning of Summer.

Currently this festival is celebrated as an International festival in Gujarat.People from different countries participate here.People are served with Jalebis and Undhiyu.

So wishing everyone a Happy Makar sankranti I stop here.