In Hindu mythology, goddess Saraswati is worshiped as the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music and significantly of speech(Baak Devi). The goddess who is considered as the consort of Brahma, sits on a white lotus and symbolic representation of bridging gap between darkness of ignorance and illumination of knowledge.
Saraswatai puja falls on Magha Sukla panchami (5th day of waxing moon period) as per the Odia Hindu calendar. Otherwise known as Basanta Panchami, the day signifies onset of spring. In Jaganntha culture,the triad have a tantric eulogization. According to tantrik devotees Balabhadra is none other than Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge.(Durga Saptashati) On the alter of Ratna Singhasana,seven gods and goddess are worshiped along with the triad. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped as Bhudevi, representing the earth sphere or Bhu-loka.
In Odisha, Saraswati puja holds a very special place as this is the day every child starts his formal education.So educational institutions celebrate this puja with great fervour and excitement. I am sure everyone gets nostalgic on this day. All those planning, decoration, flower arrangement, puja and bhoga management used to be so much fun in school days. We used to carry a new pen, notebook and coconut to be placed before the goddess. That was the supposed ritual to get the blessings of Maa Saraswati. While writing this, my mind goes to my small school in one of the remote villages of Odisha, where I spent my most fun filled days.We never gave monetary contribution for Puja, rather we were asked to get whatever we could bring for the feast. My classmates would bring hand full of rice, some vegetables, few wooden logs required for the community feast in the school. Since I was an outsider in the village, I never carried those (though I wanted it so much) The feast used be a very simple with humble khechedi, aludum, sada tarkari and khatta. Yet I have not tasted a better bhoji in my life. Some memories encoded in the cortex never fade away even though there is no more processing. Isn't it amazing?
The yellow colour of the khechedi , the bright marigold flowers and coconuts offered as oblation to the yellow colored sacred fire creates some mystical environment. This day, when an aspiring student is given the first slate and chalk to begin the journey of education or official beginning of Bidyarambha, becomes a special day in everyone’s life. Maa Saraswati is otherwise known as Swetapadma as she sits reclined on a white lotus and always accompanied with a swan. The swan who can discern milk from water is a symbolic representation of choosing good over evil.
On this day, while I pray Maa Saraswati to enlighten our hearts, this temple recipe of Nabagraha Khechedi can surely brighten up your day with its unique flavour. Before that I must mention this well known quote by authors Peter Farb and George Armelagas ,
“Food to large extent is what holds a society together, and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences”
Holds so true for us.
- Aromatic rice: 500 g
- Skinned whole green gram: 50 g
- Spilt Chick pea(Sola buta) :50 g
- Black gram: 50 g
- Asafoetida (Hing) : 1 pinch
- Ghee: 150 g
- Ginger (crushed): 10 g
- Coconut(grated): 1
- Salt: 2 TBSp
- Turmeric: 1 TBSP
- Water: (2 times of the amount of rice)
Wash the rice and other dals thoroughly. In an earthen pot, put approximately 1 lit of water or two times the amount of the rice, add the rice, black gram, split chick pea, whole green gram to it. Once water starts to boil add salt, turmeric , crushed ginger and grated coconut into it.Cover it and lower the stove flame. This will take 10 minutes to be perfectly cooked up. Now switch off the flame and pour deshi ghee on and close the lid. Let the flavour of deshi ghee get infused in each grain.
This tastes heavenly with any accompaniment. I love it with mula pachidi. You can try out with dalma,aludum or any thing of your choice.
While cooking this, what struck me was the simplicity of such a divine tasting dish. Isn't it because, we draw happiness in small, simple things in our lives ? When we cook our food, we know what it takes to prepare a meal. We learn to appreciate these smaller yet significant details in life.
Sometimes, we don't miss the persons, we miss those memories. Life is made up of such small & glittering memories and collection of random moments. Make memories, glorify your moments and yes, cook-eat and be happy.
Sorry for the late post,