India is a land of unity and diversity. The same applies when it comes to the traditions that people of India follow. There are 29 states in the country and each state, as it is identified by the language that it speaks, has different customs and traditions followed by people. And people accordingly, engage themselves in fulfilling the rituals that the many festivals bring in.
Festivals are fondly looked forward to, as they mark not only the celebrations but also the special savories that are prepared, characteristic of that particular festival. For instance, Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival celebrated across the country and it marks the beginning of the Hindu festivals too. There are a few dishes prepared exclusively for this festival as they are considered to be Lord Ganesha’s favorite items. Modak is a kind of sweet that is offered to Lord Ganesha and is made by all people belonging to different states too. The offerings differ from culture to culture and state to state.
Sweets dominate the preparations for all the festivals. Another festival that spreads a lot of cheer and celebration is the festival of lights, Diwali. This is a festival which celebrates the triumph of evil over good. This victory is celebrated by exchanging sweets between families. Laddoo is a very common preparation for any kind of a celebration and it definitely finds its place during Diwali without fail.
Puranpoli and puliogare are two dishes, the former a variety of sweet and the latter a hot made out of rice and tamarind that also are made very frequently on festive occasions. Down south, the onset of saavan brings in the festivity wherein Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. On the day of Varamahalakshmi puja, devotees make 9 or 5 or 3 varieties of savories, sweet dishes and hot dishes inclusive and offer it to the goddess.
Similarly, rakshabandhan is one such occasion wherein love between brothers and sisters is celebrated by exchanging sweets. Exchange of sweets is symbolic of the sweetness that exists in the relationship. Whatever be the festival, sweets are a common offering as they are considered to be symbolic of the sweetness that needs to exist in the bonding between people.
Holi is yet another festival wherein people celebrate in great fervor the festival of colours. Gujjias and sweet dumplings made with khoya stuffing are served to the guests. Sakkarai pongal (sweet pongal) is a dish that is extremely common in the state of Tamil Nadu. Any special occasion, almost all the temples, serve this as ‘prashaad’ to the devotees.
In short, festivals and food go hand in hand in our rich Indian culture!!