|Ram Mandir Chowk Pandal shared by Discover Bhubaneswar FB Page|
This is a post I wanted to make last Wednesday but due to certain factors, I could not. As usual, using the principle of "better late than never", I am here!
Ganeshji has been my favorite God since childhood. I remember when we were in Keonjhar, a beautiful scenic place in Odisha, I was about 4-5 years old and me and my dad were out shopping. I was enchanted by a picture stall where they had colorful pictures of different Gods. Amazingly, I still remember that clearly even after all these years - human brain is interesting, right? Here I can remember certain instances years and years later while sometimes I cannot what I had for lunch yesterday or what I did on the weekend when someone asks me on Monday! So, yes, I do remember that clearly - I insisted with my dad to purchase two framed pictures - one with Lord Ganesha and the other with Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Laxmi (think there was one more God or Goddess in this pic). Once we got them installed in the house, I used to religiously worship them.
When we moved to Bhubaneswar, I think those pictures got misplaced. Ganesh Puja and Saraswati Puja are huge in Odisha (Orissa in those days) - different clubs and associations will set up temporary structures (called "pandals") by taking donations (read "forced" donations from the neighborhood and anyone they can lay their hands on!). They are brightly lit podiums with the idol of the God - this is done by the guys only - maybe things are different these days, don't hold me on this statement.
Puja days meant new dress, no studies since you are not "supposed" to touch books on these two puja days (which kid will protest against this? well, I did a little coz this meant you can't even read story-books!) and visit the different pandals across the city in the evening. Back then, Bhubaneswar was so small that we could cover all the pandals if we wanted to. The city has grown to four times the size it was when I was a kid...
Ganesh is the God of learning and wisdom. Students pray to him more diligently than the rest to get good marks in their upcoming examinations. And any prayer to any other God will always begin with a prayer to Lord Ganesh. Wedding invitations have his picture - before you start anything good, it will be successful if you begin with a prayer to Him.
Over this Ganesh Puja, I made an early morning visit to our temple closeby. In the past years, I used to visit in evening which would be quite crowded. Liked the morning visit this time more due to ease of parking and less crowd. I wanted to make Rice-based Modaks this time but had to give up the idea.Next year, maybe. In the temple, I received the prasad of Laddoo and Kala Chana Sundal. Temple food is always different - atleast I feel so. I liked them both. Here is the recipe trying to replicate the Kala Chana Sundal.While in IIT Madras, there was a temple inside the campus and I had this prasad there for the first time.
Makes about 4-5 servings
Kala Chana - 1 cup, soaked overnight and pressure cooked with Salt as per taste and a pinch of Baking Soda for about two whistles and five minutes in Medium heat. Leave it covered till the pressure cooker opens by itself - that is, don't force it open.I love having some of this fresh out of the pressure cooker with a little bit of salt, chilli powder and chat masala - quick instant chat - try it out! :)
Canola Oil - 1 tbsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry Red Chillu - 5-6, break into halves
Hing powder (Asafoetida) - a pinch
Salt - 1/2 tsp (or as per taste)
Fresh Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp (for garnish)
Grated Coconut - 2 tbsp (I used frozen grated coconut after reducing it to room temperature)
Cook the Kala Chana as mentioned above. Keep it aside. Use immediately or keep it in the refrigerator till you are ready to use. Will stay good for 2-3 days but rather use it immediately. Bring it to room temperature before cooking.
Heat Canola Oil.
Add Cumin seeds, Hing and dry Red Chilli and let it sizzle.
Add the cooked Kala Chana and mix it well. I cook it in High heat for about 5 mins.
Reduce the heat to Medium and cook covered for another 5 mins.
Add chopped fresh Coriander leaves as well as the grated Coconut and mix it well.
I will sometimes pack it and bring to work. Makes a great morning snack just warm. As well as a workday lunch - very nutritious and filling.
Some nice pics of Ganeshji that I came across in the Ganpati festival season that friends shared on Facebook are below - enjoy! Thanks, friends, for sharing these with me.
|This is by my darling niece Pihu! How creative...loved this!!|