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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Welcome to the New Year 2010.Let us all pray for a peaceful, violence free and
terror free normal life.With the onset of tamil month of Maargazi from 3rd week of December the New
Year always begins with Dhanur masa Pujais.We grew with the culture which was followed
strictly in our families. Though from Kanjeevaram,my father and his brothers settled in
Hyderabad from Nizams regime and still continued the tradition without missing even the
minutest custom.We are lucky to be in such family and to know our culture.Till today we try
to follow the same which our parents used to.
I cannot forget my mother preparing venpongal daily to offer to God while my father performs
thiruvaaradhanai daily and chant the Thirupavai Pasuram early in the morning on all 30 days
of Maargazi.Though they were familiar to us listening daily we would only know that the pasuram
is goiNg to end when my father chants CHITRANCHIRUKALAI AND VANGA KADAL KADAINDHA.
We as kids would not attach much importance to the Theertam given by my father
or the pongal given by mother before we left for school daily.Now when we grew up and recollect
the past memories we crave for that prasadam prepared by mother.Though we tried innumerable times
to prepare pongal the same way it never tasted same.It used to be a practise to distribute pongal daily
to each of our friends and neighbours houses each day in a sizeable measure to suffice all the
members of their family.And my mother used to take special care to see that it tastes best.
No doubt it will,because the moment you open the container the ghee has to float on top.She
will never forget to add a liberal ladleful of ghee as final garnish before sending it.
It used to be prepared in vengala Oruli directly.No pressure cooker was used.
Apart from the daily prasadam the festival SANKARANTHRI which mostly falls on 14th of January
each year,SARKARAI PONGAL is prepared by everyone.In fact the 3 day pongal festival is all about
food, food and variety food.My mother used to say it is festival of eating.One gets tired eating
on all 3 days.The menu is such and it is followed by almost all the south indian families in the
same manner.
It starts with Bhogi.On this day venpongal is a must with a payasam or poli and pogada for savoury
along with the regular menu of paruppu,kariamudu, kuzambu and saathuamudu.
On sankranthi day it is a practise to prepare seperate curries using vegetables like Avaraikai,
Kathirikai,sepankizangu,yellow pumpkin curd pachadi,white pumpkin pulippukoottu,rasam and vadai.
On this day they use all root vegetables and make chips with senakizangu,vellikizangu,vazaikai
and potato too.Appalam is also a must.The King and queen of the menu are rice and sakaraipongal.
An auspicious time is chosen as per the almanac to mark the entry of SUN God into Makara rasi.
KRANTI meaning crossing TAANDUDAL from Dhakshinaayanam to Utharayanam.
The vessel(vegala uruli meant to prepare pongal and rice) is cleaned and Thirunaamam is applied
and a sacred thread with Manjal kizangu,sugarcane piece and plantain piece is tied around both
the rice and pongal paanai.Kolam is drawn on the stove
and sugarcane is placed on both the sides.Both rice and sakarai pongal are cooked simultaneously.
Milk is added to sakarai pongal by chanting PONGALO PONGAL thrice.
The third day marks KANU PONGAL-Kannu pidi is kept.The rice prepared the before day is used to
make kanupidi in 2 colours -yellow and red.On a leaf turmeric plant is spread and the rice
color balls are placed in the open terrace of the house--as an offering to sun god.
It is custom to make varity rice like puliyodarai, kadambam rice and curd rice on this day.

I like to share the recipe of venpongal here.Though the preparation is same everywhere with the
common ingredient of rice and moong dal,i like preparing pongal the way it was explained by
mrs Geetha Balakrishnan in a tamil channel long back.I prepared it many times and is liked by all.
Its aroma is too good while preparing and naturally attracts attention.

1 comment:

  1. oh hi

    first time here...nice space..