Celebrating Traditional New Year Through A Culinary Journey

Celebrating Traditional New Year Through A Culinary Journey
A pre-pandemic Gudi Padwa carnival in Mumbai, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The traditional New Year in India may be known by various names but it has one thing in common, food preparations of many hues

OT Staff
April 15 , 2021
07 Min Read

One of the most secular festivals of India is the traditional New Year celebrated by various states in India. Apart from prayers and rituals followed at home, sharing specially prepared dishes with neighbours, feasting with family and friends, form an important part of this traditional festival. The current pandemic situation has also put paid to a recent trend of observing the traditional New Year with public functions and cultural celebrations.

In Maharashtra, during Gudi Padwa, one of the most popular dishes made at home is the Puran Poli. The flat bread made from chana flour is stuffed with jaggery while a liberal spoonful of ghee is spread on top. Other popular dishes include masala bhaat, puri bhaji and shrikhand (often loaded with dry fruits).

 
 
 
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Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka welcome the New Year (Ugadi) by preparing a special concoction called Ugadi Pachadi. Apparently, it is a symbol of our many-faceted lives which find expression in the mix of ingredients – namely, neem flowers, bits of raw mango, tamarind and jaggery water.

 
 
 
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Vishu in Kerala is the time to present a special offering to the family deity. A flower bedecked ‘uruli’ (traditional large bowl made of clay or copper) is filled with rice grains, fruits and vegetables and offered to the gods. Most homes prepare the Vishu Kanji, a rice porridge made with coconut milk. In many regions, they also prepare a dish called puzhukku from jackfruit.

 
 
 
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One of the states which celebrates its New Year in style is Assam. Of the many dishes prepared at this time, two most popular are Ghila Pitha and Til Pitha.

 
 
 
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In Odisha, the New Year is traditionally called Pana Sankranti or Maha Bishuba Sankranti. The Pana is a special drink usually made with sweet mango, milk or yoghurt, and coconut water.

 
 
 
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In north India, Punjab celebrates Vaisakhi with robust preparations where ‘gur’ or jaggery is a key ingredient such as Gur ke Chawal and Gur ke Kheer among other things.

 
 
 
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While Poila Baisakh is celebrated with much fanfare in West Bengal, the most endearing part of the festival (or at least it used to be before the pandemic struck) has been the bonding between shop owners and their patrons. On this day, many shop owners inaugurate their annual book of accounts and offer a treat (from ice cream to sherbet to a box of sweets) to their visiting patrons. Incidentally, unknown to many, the present Bengali calendar was devised on instructions from Mughal emperor Akbar to align the date of tax collection in Bengal with that of the royal exchequer.


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