Posts Tagged ‘tamil new year traditions’

Vishukani and the tradition of reading panjangam

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Wishing you all a very happy Tamil New year/Vishu.Technically speaking how many new years do we celebrate in a year? The Jan 1 new year, Pongal(which is a beginning as it is the month of Thai), Tamil New year, Diwali(again as it is a beginning of something new) :D. Yet, tamil new year-the chitirai varusha pirappu is something we look forward to from childhood. For me, it is special because of the vishukani and the panjangam.

Vishukani is what we see first thing in the morning on the day of the new year. It all depends on what you are expecting to receive/achieve in that new year. Referring to what my mom says here in the famous notebook ,We arrange a plate filled with new clothes for the entire family, different kinds of fruits, some coins(money), flowers,coconut, beetel leaves,kumkumam(sindoor) and then place the plate right next to the wall. Then we arrange a mirror exactly opposite to the set up and that image in the mirror is what we see the first thing in the morning. Why? Well, basically those are the things you are expecting to get that year so you do not have hold of it yet, but it is reflection of what you want- so indirectly it implies that if you want it, you have to work for it.


Traditional offerings made that day include a real feast(obviously), with a taste of everything- bitter(neem flower rasam), sweet(panagam- a drink made of jaggery and water with elachi), sour(buttermilk), sweet and sour and tangy(mango pachadi) with the usual vadai, payasam etc.,

Sometimes I feel that certain festivals have certain foods for a reason- since it is summer and is so hot in India, panagam and buttermilk are natural coolers. Am I right?

The second best part about celebrating new year is the reading panjangam . My dad usually sends us(sis and I) new panjagams every year. It is a thing that fascinates me even now, like how do they figure out how much rain is going to reach the earth, whether it will be a year filled with sorrow or happiness(for everyone), what kind of events will be major this year according to planetary rotations and the description of the person who rules the year(with so many eyes and so many hands, walking towards this direction etc.,) When we were kids my dad will read the panjangam in the evening and we will listen with so much of enthusiasm and eagerness to know what is going to happen :) Besides you get to know when Diwali is, when other festivals are so it is a way of knowing how many holidays are going to fall on a working day 😀 The first year I read panjangam for N, he too was fascinated and kept asking me how they found out such stuff, but at the end of year you realize how true it turned out to be!

Alright, let me stop writing about my childhood experiences and go straight to the recipes.
Quick clicks of vadai(which became a kunukku due to son’s helping :),semia payasam,panagam and neer moru)


Veppempoo rasam: (I may skip it this year as I havent found the neem flower yet)

Mix about 1/4 tsp of tamarind paste in 1 cup of water,add salt and let it boil. When it is about to bubble over, switch off. Heat ghee in a pan and add one whole red chili and just less than 1/4 tsp if dried neem flower. Fry well in ghee and pour this over the rasam. You do not need more as it will be bitter so this quantity should be enough.

Mango pachadi: (Serves a family of 4)

Mango- one small size
Jaggery- 1 lemon size- powdered
Tamarind- just less than 1/4 tsp mixed in a cup of water(use if you think the mango is not sour enough)
Dry whole red chili-1
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
oil- 1 tbsp

Method:
Peel the skin of the mango, cube it and cook it in a cup of water(or tamarind water if you like more tanginess). Once mango is cooked through, add powdered jaggery and let it dissolve and mix with the mango pulp. Heat oil in a kadai, add mustard seeds, when they splutter add whole red chili and pour the tempering over the mango-jaggery mix and switch off. This has to be thick pachadi and not so runny.

Panagam:

Jaggery- 2-3 tbsp, powdered
Water- 1 cup(200 ml)
Elachi powder- a pinch

Dissolve the jaggery completely in water and filter(to remove any dust or soil particles). Mix the elachi powder and serve.

Butter milk:
Yogurt- 1/4 cup mixed in one cup of water or Butter milk 1 cup
salt- to taste
curry leaves- few
hing- a pinch

Whisk the yogurt and water well to make moru(butter milk), add salt to taste and add curry leaves. Mix a dash of hing to the butter milk.