Om Hari Shree Ganapataye Namah
- Hindu verse
Navratri is a Hindu festival in which the Godess Durga is honored and worshiped. Navratri means "Nine Nights" and the festival lasts for nine nights and ten days. Like many other Hindu festivals, this festival is also the celebration of good over evil.
There are many many legends behind this festival. Let me tell you the one that I like the most. This one is my favorite, may be because it gives the tiny little feminist in me a little edge 😉 .
Legend Of Navratri
Once upon a time, the earth was ruled by a vicious demon king named Mahishasura. He was so wicked, vile and greedy and he was not satisfied with what he had (like all other villains). He wanted to win it all and decided to pray to Lord Brahma (one of the trinities in Hindu Mythology) to help him be the conqueror of all. Mahishasura's idea was to ask for a boon that no man could ever kill him. (Ha!!! Mahishasura underestimated the power of women. Read on to find out more). Lord Brahma, pleased with his penance granted him the wish. Now, Mahishasura was unbeatable by anybody. Not even the gods in the heavens could do him any damage. They all rushed to the trinities - Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva - and asked for their help. Though the trinities themselves were indeed helpless because of the boon, they had a solution. To keep the long story short, they concentrated all their power, brought energy together and that took shape of a woman - Sakhthi or power. All the gods bowed to her divine presence and kindly asked her to destroy the cruel demon. It is believed that each of the gods gave her a weapon of sorts to enable her fight and win against the evil demon. After a fierce battle, the evil Mahishasura was destroyed by the goddess. The belief is that the battle lasted for nine nights and on the ninth night Mahishasura was destroyed. This goddess is also called Lord Durga or Mahishasura Mardhini (meaning the goddess who killed Mahishasura). Think about it, Lord Brahma's boon actually came true!! Mahishasura was not killed by a man.
Navratri is celebrated with lots of fervor across India. Every region has a different way of celebrating it. The way we celebrate it at home is by fasting (vrat) and praying. There are a lot of restrictions on food that we could consume during these nine days. I still remember how my mom and grand mother used to chant the Lalitha Sahasranaam Sthothram - which is a collection of hymns which specify the 1000 (sahasra) names (naama) of the goddess. It is considered extremely auspicious to chant this sthrothram especially during the Navratri season.
I started fasting only when I was in 10th grade, just because it dawned on me at that time, that if I have to score good marks in my 10th grade exam (which was a big deal at that time), I needed a miracle- a divine intervention. And needless to say, I passed my 10th grade exams with flying colors. From then on, I have meticulously followed the Navratri vrat. It was easy to follow the vrat back when I used to live with my parents. Now that I have to take care of and feed a family, it gets a little tough. So I give advance warning to my family that when mamma gets hungry, she gets angry. Suffice to say, they co-operate pretty well 🙂 .
Back in India, when I was a kid, every Navratri, we used to visit our family temple at Kannur. This visit was always looked forward to, since it was at that time, I could meet my cousins from my maternal side. It was a great social event and family reunion. We would visit the temple at night where the rituals and pooja used to take place, sometimes late into the night. And on the ninth day, the pooja would go on till early morning hours. The tenth day, or the Vijayadashmi day, we break the vrat.
In Kerala, on Ashtami (the 8th day of Navratri), kids place their books in front of the idol/picture of Goddess Saraswathi (the Goddess of Knowledge) and the adults keep their tools/implements along with sacred books for worship. This can be either done at home or at the local temple. These books and tools are worshiped till the tenth day, when they are ceremoniously removed from the altar where they were placed and are used. It is a tradition that once you place the books and tools for worship, you are not supposed to use them (gala time for kids, believe me). But these days, it is not possible for us to take a break from work or studies, so we keep the books and tools for worship, but we do not take a break from using them. This tradition, called the Ayudha Pooja (loosely translated means, worshiping the tools/implements) is also popular in other South Indian states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Vijayadashami (10th day of Navratri) also marks the Vidyarambham where one is formally introduced to a new knowledge/learning. Vidyarambham means beginning (aarambham) of learning (Vidya). Every kid, before starting their formal education, would visit the near by temple and write (with the help of an adult) the verse - Om Hari Shree Ganapataye Namah on sand and then rice. Many people wait for the Vijayadashami day to start new ventures, to learn new arts (like music or dance). The verse Om Hari Shree Ganapataye Namah is to salute the lord almighty to seek blessings before starting anything new. The verse pays respect to the Lord Hari (Vishnu), Shree (Goddess of Prosperity/Lakshmi) and Ganpati/Ganesha (remover of obstacles).
At my in-laws place they have a tradition on every Vijaydashami day, where you would write Om Hari Shree Ganapataye Namah in rice and read a paragraph from the Hindu epic Ramayana. It was OK to write the verse in Malayalam (I have learnt the language till 10th grade). But reading Ramayana in Malayalam was a bit (ahem!) of a challenge for me. I am glad to say that everyone in the family helped me read the Ramayana 😀 .
Every one needs a new beginning, to hone their skills from last year. Even if you are not doing something new, you are still learning something new everyday. What better day to promise yourself to do better than last year than the extremely auspicious Vijayadashami day. So, I follow this tradition in my family now.
Madgane - Nivedyam
No Hindu ritual is complete without Nivedya/Nivedyam. Nivedyam is a food offering to god during a Hindu pooja (prayer) ritual. Tradition has it that nivedyam, before offering it to god should not be tasted and should be prepared in a clean environment and vessels.
One of my favorite nivedayams that I make often at home is the Seven Cup Burfi. Madgane is another sweet dish that can be offered as nivedyam. This is also served at our family temple in Kannur, as part of the Prasad (food offered to god as part of the pooja which is later consumed by the devotees) served at the temple feast during Navratri.
Madgane (pronounced Mud-ga-ne) is a runny pudding of sorts in the Konkani cuisine. It is typically made on Konkani New year day (Sansaar padvo). Madgane is made using protein rich Chana Dal and Coconut Milk sweetened with iron rich Jaggery - this sweet is a treat by itself.
- ¾ cup Chana Dal
- 1 cup (Approx 150-160 gms) crushed jaggery (See Recipe Notes)
- 1 tsp Ghee/Clarified Butter
- 2 tbsp Cashew nuts; You can add more if desired.
- 1 tbsp Raisins; You can add more if desired.
- 2 pods Cardamom, husked and powdered
- 1 cup Coconut milk, divided (See Recipe Notes)
- Pressure cooker
- A small sauce pan
- Sieve (See Recipe Notes)
- Saute Spatula
- Mortar & Pestle to crush the Cardamom pods. Not required if you are using already prepared cardamom powder
- Heat 1 tsp ghee in a pressure cooker over medium heat.
- Roast the cashew nuts and raisins in the hot ghee and remove from the ghee and set aside for garnish.
- To the same ghee (add a little more if required), add the chana dal and roast the dal till light brown. Make sure that you keep stirring the dal, so that you do not burn them. Also keep in mind to keep the heat to medium or low.
[img src="http://www.framedrecipes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/DSC_9297_Madgane_2.jpg" width="600" height="400" border="0"]
- Add two cups (approximately) of water and pressure cook the dal.
- Meanwhile, mix crushed jaggery and about ¼ cup water in a small sauce pan and melt the jaggery. Sieve the jaggery to remove any impurities in the syrup.
[img src="http://www.framedrecipes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/DSC_9303_Madgane_3.jpg" width="400" height="600" border="0"]
- When the dal is cooked, mash the dal using the back of your ladle. Keep a few chana dal whole, to add a bite to the pudding.
[img src="http://www.framedrecipes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/DSC_9304_Madgane_4.jpg" width="600" height="400" border="0"]
- Add jaggery syrup to the mashed chana dal and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add 1 cup of thin coconut milk (see recipe notes) and bring it to boil. If you want you can cook for a few more minutes and adjust the consistency.
- Now, lower the heat, add ½ cup of thick coconut milk and keep stirring till the milk is combined well. Add the cardamom powder and garnish with roasted cashew nuts and raisins.
[img src="http://www.framedrecipes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/DSC_9345_Madgane_Final.jpg" width="600" height="400" border="0"]
1. I have noticed that sweetness of jaggery depends on it's color. Darker the color, sweeter it is. You can adjust the quantity of jaggery required to suit your taste. When you buy jaggery from stores, it will have lot of impurties. When using jaggery, I typically melt it with water and sieve it using a fine mesh sieve before using it in the dish.
2. If you are using the freshly pressed coconut milk to prepare this sweet, you need ½ cup of first pressed milk and approximately ¾-1 cup second press of coconut milk. I use the store bought canned coconut milk. I use ½ cup of thick canned coconut milk for the first pressed. I add ½ cup water to another ½ cup coconut milk to make the second pressed coconut milk (the thin variety).
3. Make sure the chana dal is cooked well. Once you add the jaggery, it hardens a little bit.
4. When you add the fresh first pressed coconut milk, remember to lower the heat, or else the coconut milk will split. I have noticed that the canned coconut milk does not spilt (probably because of the preservatives in it).
5. If Madgane is little too thick for your taste, you can dilute it further by adding coconut milk.