Archive for January, 2017

Update: Makara Sankranthi – Jan 14th 2017

The 2nd week of January is the festival “Makara Sankranthi”. This year it is on 14th, which is a Saturday.

P.S: Please check your local calendars and temples to see the exact date.

Makara Sankranthi is a widely celebrated festival in different parts of India.  On this day,  Lord Surya or Sun is worshiped.  It is also celebrated as a harvest festival in many parts of India. On this day, Sun begins his journey to the Northern Hemisphere, most commonly called as Uttharayana.  As with all other festivals, this festival also has many legends, two such commonly told legends are:

1. Lord Surya or Sun visits Shani on this day.

2. Bheeshma Pithamaha, who was able to choose when he will die, chose this day to end his life.

The house is cleaned, and decorated with fresh green mango leaves tied as thorana to the front door. Beautiful, and colorful rangoli is drawn at the front of the house.  After performing the pooja, yellu(Sesame seeds) and Bella(Jaggery) is offered to God. Usually it is prepared by mixing Till, finely chopped Jaggery, roasted groundnuts cut into small peices, with finely chopped dried coconut, and Putani, also called as Hurigadale.

Attached below are the pictures and the steps to making Yellu Bella.

yellu

I use the following proportion to prepare the yellu:

* 1/2 cup Yellu or Sesame Seeds
* 1 cup Groundnuts or peanuts ( Fried, skin removed and cut into half)
* 1 cup Dhalia or hurigadale
* 1 cup finely chopped dry coconut
* 1 cup Jaggery, finely chopped

Usually the Sesame seeds are cleaned, washed and dried. Later, they are fried. I skip this step, and just fry the Sesame seeds for a few minutes.

Next, grate the black portion of the dry coconut. Chop them into squares as shown in the above picture. Chop the Jaggery also and make sure they are dry. My mom used to keep it in the sun for a few days.

Mix, all the ingredients together. Distribute to your family and friends. If all the ingredients are dry, it will stay for months.

Here is the recipe for Yellu Unde/Burfi:

Ingredients:

  1. Sesame Seeds/Yellu – 1 cup
  2. Peanuts – 1 cup
  3. Dhalia – 1 cup
  4. Jaggery – 2cups
  5. Grated Coconut – 2 tsp
  6. 7-8 cardamom – ground finely
  7. 2 tsp Oil or Ghee(I never use Ghee)

Method:

  • Fry the Sesame seeds for 4-5 minutes. Take out in a plate.
  • In a pan, heat oil or ghee. Now add the jaggery. Add just enough water so that the Jaggery dissolves.
  • Keep stirring for almost 9-10 minutes until the jaggery starts leaving the sides.
  • Next, add peanuts, sesame seeds, dhalia and mix well. Let it continue on the stove top for another 3-4 minutes. Add in the cardamom as well.
  • Turn off the stove. Grease a tray, and pour the mixture. Let it cool a little bit.
  • Cut squares. ANd the left over, was formed to a round shape.
  • Finally garnish with grated coconut.

I called it Yellu Burfi, and everyone called it Sesame Squares.

Most dishes prepared during this day are made out of Yellu or Sesame seeds and Rice. It is also tradition to prepare Sweet and Khara Pongal during this festival. The recipes are posted here in the blog and are attached below for your convenience:

If you wish to cook elaborate dishes during Sankranthi, many authentic recipes are posted here:

And you can find various Rangoli designs here:

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Update – Vaikunta Ekadashi – Jan 8th/9th 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE WHO HAS VISITED THIS BLOG. MAY 2017 BRING PEACE HAPPINESS, AND HEALTH TO EACH ONE OF YOU!

January 8th 2017 is Smartha Ekadashi.

January 9th 2017 is Bhagavatha Ekadashi.

P.S: Please check your local calendars and temples to see the exact date for Vaikunta Ekadashi.

Vaikunta Ekadashi falls in the month December-January. This year it falls on January 8th and 9th 2017. This is observed with all solemnity in the temples of Lord Vishnu. Please check your local calendars to see when it falls.

Vaikunta Ekadashi is of great significance at the Tirupati Balaji Temple, and also all Balaji temples. They prepare what is called a “Swargada Bagilu” also called as ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to the heaven‘ This gate is opened on this day. This is the passage encircling the innermost sanctum of the Lord. Scores of devotees queue up to pass through the Gate of Vaikunta in the temples.

For the devotees of Lord Vishnu, every Ekadashi is a very sacred day No rice should be eaten on Ekadashi days. This is very important.

Those who are unable to fast completely can take some light fruit and milk. So you may ask why we shouldn’t eat rice, so here comes the story for the same.

The sweat that fell down from the head of Brahma assumed the form of a demon and said to the Lord, “O Lord! now give me an abode to dwell.” Brahma replied, “O demon! go and dwell in the rice particles eaten by men on Ekadashi day and become worms in their stomach.” For this reason rice is prohibited on Ekadashi.

If you don’t believe in this story, just think of all the benefits you can get from fasting.

Fasting makes a man strong, both spiritually and mentally.Fasting controls passion. It checks the emotions. It controls the senses also. It is good to fast once in a while as it recuperates the body. Ekadashi observance cleans our body and the digestive organs get much needed rest.

Those people suffering from ailments and on medications should take the advice of a doctor before fasting. Never torture your body in the name of religion. There is nothing wrong in having fruits or milk. And you can bring a certain amount of flexibility in the way it is observed.

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