In India or anywhere in the world, festivals are all about harmony and togetherness. And yes, the fun and frolic of any occasion are simply incomplete without scrumptious food. Food is happiness, and when it’s celebration time its value is even more pre-eminent. Food completes the celebration, it ties people with their culture and reminds one of all the good old memories. In India, winters are almost bidding goodbye, and it’s the onset of the spring season. In many Indian regional communities, this transition in season is celebrated with much fervor. One such spring festival that is just around the corner is Vasant Panchami also called Saraswati Puja.
Saraswati Puja 2021
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Over the years, a growing Indian immigrant population in the USA has been celebrating Saraswati Puja, going all out to replicate the massive festivities from their motherland. This year, Vasant Panchami a.k.a Saraswati Puja would be celebrated on 16th February 2021.
On this day people worship the goddess Saraswati. According to Hindu mythology, the goddess Saraswati is the divinity of wisdom, intellect, and learning. She has 4 hands which signify ego, intelligence, alertness, and the mind. Predominantly, this festival is eminent in the eastern parts of India, particularly in West Bengal and Bihar. But, in North India, especially in the state of Punjab, Vasant Panchami is celebrated as a festival of kites. Not forgetting Rajasthan where it is customary for people to wear jasmine garlands to celebrate this festival is a part of the rituals. Interesting isn’t it?
One Festival – Diverse Rituals
The special color of Basant or Vasant is yellow, it symbolizes prosperity, peace, energy, light, energy, and optimism. This is exactly why people wear yellow clothes and cook traditional delicacies having yellow hues. In the states of Bengal and Bihar, Goddess Saraswati is offered ladoo and boondi. Aromatic sweet rice with saffron and dry fruits is prepared in almost every home at this event. Bengalis offer Mango wood, coconut, pious Ganga water, and baer (Jujube) to the goddess. And the magical Bhog is prepared on this day in most Puja pandals. In Bihar, people celebrate Saraswati Puja by offering delicacies like Kheer, Malpua, and Bundi to the Goddess. Conventionally, in Punjab, Maake ki Roti and Sarso Ka Saag are savored.
Like all festivals, Saraswati Puja celebrations are marked by many traditional delicacies, like khichuri, mixed vegetables, kesar halwa, kesari bhaat, payesh, sondesh, and rajbhog. On Murti Visthapan day, big processions are held in many parts of India. The idols of Maa Saraswati are immersed in the holy water of the river Ganga with serenity. In many regions, this day is celebrated by savoring Dahi Chura along with gur (jaggery) and banana. This edifies the diversity!
We Got Your Saraswati Puja Special Menu Sorted Right Here!
Good food increases the value of the festival or it can be said, nice food prepared at home, give the feel of the festival. Building on this, here are some dishes that will make your Saraswati Puja menu scrumptiously complete:
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Saraswati Puja has always claimed a special place in the heart of Bengali and so has the BHOG.
Bhog normally refers to food offered to the goddess and that is then served to all those who are a part of the puja. Bhog is the only vegetarian meal loved by Bengalis. The Khichuri or pulao is the cornerstone for any puja bhog complimented with different fries (also called bhajja), mixed vegetables dish (called Labra), chutney, and papad. The magic of a bhog cannot be replicated on a regular day, it has the power to transform us and bring out the inner child in us.
Saraswati puja is never complete without the traditional helping of a special sweet mixture known as Dodhikarma. It is basically sweet curd mixed with chura, batasha (as its wintertime, gur (jaggery) batasha is preferred here), mashed Sandesh, murki, and all good things.
Trust us, ‘dodhikorma’ tastes amazing! So, this Basant Panchami if you want to try something new, then dodhikorma can be a great option.
3. Boondi And Boondi Ladoo
Boondi or Bundiya is a popular Indian dessert made from sweetened, fried chickpea flour. Boondi is one of the deities’ favorites hence boondi is commonly offered as Prasadam during the spring festival.
From Boondi, boondi laddu is made, the fried boondi is dipped in sugar syrup. Due to its yellow colour, the sweet is considered the symbol of spirit on Saraswati Puja. These ladoos are extremely easy to prepare at home. Pour besan into hot oil through a perforated ladle and deep fry them. Dip the fried besan droplets into the sugar syrup and mold them into round ladoos.
This is another very popular traditional Bengali sweet prepared with simple ingredients like paneer, almonds, and pistachios with a tinge of saffron and cardamom powder in it. Its beautiful saffronish color makes it a perfect sweet for this festival.
5. Kesari Chawal
Rice is a staple food for so many people worldwide. Kesari Chawal is a sweet rice dish made of sticky boiled rice blended with some beautiful aromatic spices. This rice recipe is a perfect dish that can be served on any occasion. It can be prepared in very less time because of its fuss-free ingredients and you would not be disappointed by the result – Delectable!
6. Kesari Kheer
Kheer is an Indian rice pudding, made by boiling some milk and rice together then loaded with some generous quantity of dry fruits and saffron (for that Kesari colour) to make this dish delicious. Unquestionably, Kheer is one of the most popular Indian deserts that is typically served during a meal or as a dessert. Across India, Kheer is made in many varieties which may or may not match inconsistencies; some of the most popular varieties of Kheer are meetha bhaat, payasa, payasam, dudhpak, etc.
7. Kesari Sheera
Sheera also called Halwa is a roasted grain preparation, which is thickened and flavored using substantial amounts of ghee, sugar, and dry fruits. In the case of Kesari Sheera, the recipe is infused with saffron so it gets that beautiful yellow color and aroma.
India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Religion plays a central and definitive role in the life of many of its people. And let’s face it – You can’t make the celebrations and festivals out of Indians—even when they’re in America. Like food, fashion, and faith, Indians carry with them their adored festivals wherever their livelihood takes them.
So, which of these delicacies are you planning to prepare for Saraswati Puja 2021? You can easily buy the ingredients needed to prepare these dishes at local Indian stores in the USA or online grocery marketplace like ebounti groceries.