Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Puran Polis and I have a love-hate relationship----I love eating them but hate making them----because I make "Puran Tukdas"(Puran Pieces) instead of soft,thin,silky Polis!!!Ritu just dropped off a batch of Puran Polis----she made them herself------and her association with them came to mind!!
Ritu has always loved Food-----Puran Polis is something that she adores----one of her very,very dear favourites!!!Mummy's Puran Polis were exquisite---to date I 've never eaten any that can even match hers----and so it was a red letter day for all of when these were cooked---more so for Ritu.She was the greatest consumer of these since she was allowed to eat solid food----and when just a few would remain---she'd quarrel with Mikki and me each time we wanted to eat one-----there used to be tears and tantrums galore!!!
As a way out Daddy suggested that Mummy make these regularly---exclusively for Ritu only---- till she tired of eating these----she was to eat them daily till then!!!So poor Mummy'd make dozens of these twice a week----Ritu'd empty the container before the next batch!!!This went on for at least a year---practice made Mummy's Polis even more delicious than before and Ritu became more addicted to these than ever-----while the rest of us lost interest in the Polis somewhat!!!!Ritu used to eat these for Breakfast,Lunch,Tea and Dinner DAILY and still ask for more!!!!
Mummy was getting tired of churning out Polis----her Marathi friends too were getting irritated---all her classmates who were Maharashtrian had begun throwing tantrums over the contents of their Lunch Boxes---"if Ritu's mother gives her Polis daily why can't you????"used to be their righteously plaintive grouse!!!
Like all good things this too had to end------Mummy firmly told Daddy that enough was enough-----tears or tantrums----whatever came from Ritu----Polis would be made ONLY on festive occasions and not otherwise!!!!Ritu was heart broken for sometime---precisely a day---because she was easily distracted by Mummy with another favourite Food---and the "Puran Poli Parva"or the "Puran Poli Chapter" in our home ended!!!
Today I can make the perfect Filling, knead the perfect Dough-----even assemble the two together into the perfectly stuffed ball---only while rolling these out,somewhere along the way,these break into pieces!!!Others make perfectly thin and round finished products from the balls I stuff----this aspect has perplexed me for so many years now----what exactly and where exactly do things go wrong????Poor Mummy tried so many times to teach me but somehow it just didn't work out!!Today Ritu does the best job of making these amongst us three---Mikki's okay too----but I'm a total non starter!!!
Today luckily making these has developed into a full scale Cottage Industry and is providing a good source of income to many needy women who excel in this art.These are supplied to various Shops and are sold in these Shops throughout the year---special orders too are taken by these people!!!It is definitely a boon for the younger generation---and old folks like me!!!!!
Monday, March 01, 2010
The sight of children playing Holi with a joyous abandon always transports me back in time----a really looooong way back!!!It reminds me of all the various pleasures that each Holi has imparted----makes me nostalgic for the days that were!!!
My earliest memories of Holi are of Holi in Chandigarh-----Mummy would rise early in the morning,wash her hair, bathe and start cooking the Puran Polis------the Traditional Sweet made in Maharashtra on this day.Her Polis were to die for---no one can make her type of Polis---soft,stuffed to the limit and melting in the mouth Polis!!!She'd be at it since dawn-----because people would start arriving at 7.30 a.m. onwards---everyone would be greeted with hot,soft Puran Polis---with lashings of home made fresh Ghee!!!Not just that--------she'd get smeared with handfuls of Powder Colours,soaked in coloured Water each year----but since it was Tradition, her early morning bath was a must--------each year she washed her thick long hair and bathed twice on that day!!!!We'd have wonderful time-------Daddy would sing beautiful old K.L.Saigal songs,Thumris by Begum Akhtar to the beat of the "Dholak"(Drum) and the atmosphere would be very vibrant and alive.We children would join the gang and go door to door----smearing handful of colours on people and spraying coloured Water through our "Pichkaaries"as the Water Guns were called(still are)!!!This went on till late afternoon-----food was no problem-----every house we went to would feed us their Holi special!!!Dahi Bhalley,Dahi Gujhiyas,Khoya stuffed sweet Gujhiyas,Ras Gullas,Gulaab Jaamuns,Jalebies with Rabri,Samosas,Kachories,Luchies and Aaloo Posto-----those names still make my mouth water!!!!
After I came to Mumbai in 1970 I began enjoying the" Mumbaiya" style of Holi----Traditional Pujas and food---laidback and graceful but deeply moving and lively---with Musical Concerts and Plays---Maharashtrians worship the art of "Naataks"as plays are called----the musical ones---"Sangeet Naataks"------are our Marathi Operas----with many revered Singing Legends!!!!In 1975 May, we shifted here---to our present home.This is a Cosmopolitan Condominium------Hindus----Marathis,Sindhi
s,Gujaratis,Marwaris,Punjabis---Muslims ,Parsis,Christians and Jews-------we became a mini India!!!As we came closer as friends our children too formed lasting friendships---and once again Holi became a boisterous event!!!
My two daughters were regular Holi revelers---coming home soaked to the skin and stained with different colours-----their faces would retain their different colours for at least two days after Holi----no matter how hard I scrubbed.Slowly the girls grew up,married and moved away----but the boisterous revelry continues.The children of their childhood friends--------my "courtesy" grandkids--------continue to play Holi in the same Garden with happy enthusiasm each year.
The Garden has a fountain in one corner----each generation of children uses that as a pool----they fill it with Water and dunk each new comer in it---the entrances and the entire ground get multi-hued and need a week to wash clean!!!!Not just that they shriek and shout at the top of their voices----the commotion is deafening!!!I love watching them playing Holi---their innocencent pleasure is writ large on their faces----simple and uncomplicated-----childhood is the best time of a human being's life!!!!!
Sunday, February 28, 2010
India is the land of Festivals-----we are blessed with many------but this one is one of the most popular------the vibrant splash of Colours and the Joyousness of Life make it a celebration and so very alive!!!Today is Holi------the last Hindu Festival of the year------tonight we will consign all the Evil and Inauspiscious Events of the past year to the flames and 15 days later welcome the New year---Chaitri Pratipada(called Gudhi Padwa in Maharashtra) a celebration marked with Piety.
The story of Holi is simple.Hindus too have a Holy Trinity-----Brahma,The Creator(A)------Vishnu,the Sustainer(U) and Maheshwara(Shiva),The Destroyer(M).These three together symbolise and manifest their joint Power in the word form as "AUM"the eternal "Mantra" or Chant.The first letter is uttered of medium length,the second one long drawn out and the third one short---Birth should not be too difficult,Life should be long and Death should come as a blessing---hence the end should be short----this is the Philosophy behind it.
Prahlad,the son of the Demon Hirayakasyapu,was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and despite repeated efforts by his father, would not stop worshipping Him.This enraged Hiranyakasyapu and he asked his sister,Holika's help in killing Prahlad.The demoness Holika had a special ability----she was impervious to Fire-----she did not suffer burns.
So to teach Prahlad a lesson,Holika was seated on a pyre with Prahlad on her lap-----and the pyre was set ablaze.When the flames were reduced to cinders,it was Prahlad who emerged from the smouldering cinders----Holika had been burnt to ashes!!!Since then Hindus burn the ceremonial Fire on the full moon night of the last month of the Hindu calender----Phalgun/Phagun.Coconuts,Puffed Rice,Dates and in Maharashtra a sweet called Puran Poli is offered to the flames.Many people observe a fast on this day and at night Vegetarian Food is served as "Prasaad"or Blessing.
The next day the revelry begins------since early morning people step out to apply Colours on each other.They visit Relatives and Friends with Traditional Sweets,Colours and enjoy the occasion----the atmosphere is filled with the joy and bonhomie of Life-----one has to be a part of it to realise how positively charged the entire scene is!!!!!
As a child I enjoyed this Festival immensely-----though after my marriage I didn't play---Maharashtrians don't indulge in colour playing revelry---it is the earlier day which has greater importance in our community.Now these boundaries are non-existent----playing Holi is enjoyed by all communities!!!These days all the children take part in this revelry----playing with dry colours,water colours-----it is fun to watch all the children of our Complex enjoying the festivities!!!
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