Home is where the heart is and we find comfort in our traditions, be it any place that life takes us. More often than not, we create our own little rituals to ensure that we don’t lose touch with our roots. Especially during the festive season, while a part of us misses the extensive celebrations back home, we make endless efforts to keep the traditions alive. From making our favourite delicacies to recreating certain practices from back home, we recreate our cultural traditions in the place we call home. On the occasion of Sankranti, Pongal, and Lohri, we asked a few ABFRLites how they ring in the festive season in their homes away from home, and this is what they had to say.
Tilgul ghya ni god god bola
Makar Sankranti is a big celebration back home in Mumbai. Women dress in black sarees and visit their friends for the traditional ‘haldi-kunku’ ceremony, where married women greet each other with turmeric and vermillion and exchange gifts. We also share ‘tilgul,’ a small laddoo made from sesame seeds, roasted ground nuts, and jaggery, with the line ‘tilgul ghya ni god god bola,’ meaning have a laddoo and speak sweetly. It is quite festive in my hometown, but here in Delhi, things are a lot quieter. Since we don’t have too many people from the community around, I keep the tilgul tradition alive and share it as an offering to god instead of my friends!
Kai Po Che!
Sankranti is all about spreading happiness, whether it is in Mumbai or Bangalore. As someone who hails from Mumbai, I expected a lot of kites in the Bangalore sky, but the kite flying in Mumbai still remains unbeatable. However, in Bangalore this year, a lot of my neighbours visited my house with a plate of sugarcane pieces, some seeds, jaggery, etc. A truly heartening experience! This also reminded me of Tilgul from Mumbai: ‘Tilgul Ghya, God God Bola’
I had a lovely lunch with some of our friends, with some tilgud and gajak (a dry sweet made of sesame seeds and jaggery). We flew kites on the terrace, screaming “kaati re” every time we snipped a kite. We had arranged for the manja (glass powder-coated kite-flying string) from Ahmedabad. In the evening, we had a nice session with samosas, dal pakodi, dhokla, chai, and music as we celebrated the festivities. We ended the day with sky lanterns. As a tradition, Sankrant is a time to donate to the needy, so I had a special pooja and distributed kitchen utensils to my house help. Back home in Rajasthan, we would have dhols and live music. The atmosphere would be magically festive, and we would end the night by bursting crackers. I miss the grandeur and scale of my hometown, but with friends and family around, we still manage to keep the magic alive!
Churi Kha Lo
I celebrated Lohri, Sankranti, and a Punjabi festival called Churi in my hometown, Surat. Churi falls a day after Sankranti when we consume only churi, which is made from Jowari atta. We have about 20–25 people over for dinner, and it is similar to Mahashivratri. I enjoyed Lohri in Punjab during my school days, and the celebrations are grander back there. I miss the vibe, but since our community in Surat has a good 200-250 odd people, it’s fun even here.
Sankranthi Banthu Ratto Ratto
This Sankranti was special for me because it was the first festival we celebrated together after my marriage at my hometown. The festival starts with cleaning the front yard and house premises with cow dung, making an idol of Ganesha out of it, and keeping it in front of the house. We worship the deity, as he removes all the negative energy. We also bathe all our cattle at home and paint their bodies on this occasion as a mark of gratitude for the work they do for us throughout the year. We clean the house and wear grand clothes. The elders of the family bless us, gift us clothes, and serve special meals that are both sweet and savoury. We visit the temple with the family and distribute a mixture of Yellu (sesame) and Bella (jiggery) to all our neighbours. At night, our cows are paraded around town, and it is a visual treat to all.
Pongal O Pongal!
I celebrated Pongal along with my family. All four days of Pongal are unique. Day one is dedicated to Mother Earth, day two to the Sun God, day three to the cattle of our family, and day four is for relaxation and enjoyment. It was a great occasion to relive the festival of harvest in my hometown, Chetpet (Vellore Dist.). We begin with making colourful rangolis at the entrance of the house and embellish our cattle with garland, turmeric, kumkum, ribbons, and bells. Everyone in the house gets dressed in new clothes and jewels. We then start preparing Pongal in an earthen clay pot in the company of relatives, neighbors, and well-wishers. Once the milk bubbles over, we yell Pongalo Pongal and thank Mother Earth. As part of our rituals, we offer prayers to God and distribute Pongal and sugarcane to everyone. We visit our Kula Daiva temple along with family and enjoy the day. Pongal serves as a chance at creating cherishing memories.
Even though our celebrations alter a little depending on where we are put up, keeping up with our traditions from back home is what allows us to stay in touch with our roots. ABFRL hopes that you continue to recreate the festive magic from back home and make every occasion count!