Monday, October 12, 2015

My first Varalakshmi Vratham

My story is one perfect example of amalgamation of two cultures, one from cosmopolitan Punjab and the other from traditional Andhra. Going by my instincts or love or spirit to marry my beau had gotten me into a new land of a new language, new cultures, new traditions and new ways of leading life. Needless to say, it has been an enriching experience which I would have deeply missed had I gotten hitched in my own community. I always had hots for South Indian guys and since college, I was pretty sure I am going to fall for one from the foreign land and no wonder, the fate!

So, now, I am a semi-Andhraiite, still trying to get my tongue twist on the tunes of Telugu words and training my taste buds for spicy, Andhra food. But the best part about this cross-cultural union is that I get to celebrate the bests of the festivals from the North as well as from the South. We had God’s grace shining on us, so we could celebrate my first Rakhi and get all the love from my family. A day before, I got to celebrate my first Varalakshmi Vratham and this experience was both divine as well as overwhelming for both of us.

Since I do not have any elder’s guidance on how things should be, I had to bank on my cousin sisters-in-law, Kanthi and Pallavi and one great bhabhi (vadina, as they say in Telugu), Rani. These guys helped me great deal to understand the festival and the values hidden in it and perform the pooja according to the rituals. The best anchor, my husband was always next to me to lead the way but yes, he never forced anything upon me, neither if I should fast nor if I should perform the pooja. It was my interest and excitement which he fueled further .

So, I had my new sarees in place, gold purchased (kasu) in place, a thoroughly cleaned and decorated mandir in place and all the raw ingredients required to prepare the prasadam the next morning right in place. One best aspect of participating in South Indian festivals is you get to purchase plenty of new clothes and jewelry all the time! Anyway, the next morning, I got up at 5:30 in the morning, took a shower, draped my new saree and set out to my kitchen to prepare the five dishes I had plan to cook. I must say I not only surprised myself but also my best friend and my husband who couldn’t believe I could do all this in one go.

I prepared the following – carrot kheer, lemon rice, rava kesari, Pongal and daddhojanam. By 9, I was all prepared and set for the pooja. This vratham is not exactly a tiring one, as you get to eat right after you perform the pooja. We performed our pooja at 11:40 in the morning and had food right after that. This pooja experience was calming and, also, brought us closer as a couple – we recited all the mantras in Sanskrit together and sung the Arti, too. Singing ‘Lakshmi Raave Maa Intiki’, I, not even once, felt like an outsider. For the first experience, this one was truly outstanding! The craze to wear a new saree, to eat all these tasty dishes, to wear new jewelry and, of course, to do things right was all the driving force behind, but by grace of Maa Lakshmi, I had the best first Varalakshmi Vratham ever!
Daddhojanam or Curd Rice
Lemon Rice
Carrot Kheer
Rava Kesari/Halwa



Tina Acharya said...

Well articulated!! Even in the same culture, i had found many Vratas hard to observe in terms rituals. Now also I call my mother to have the details. I liked the way you have written!! Excellent!!!

Cheena Chopra said...

Thanks for your wonderful words, Tina! <3

Searching my soul said...

Nothing much to say, except.....I am visualizing you in a saree :)
And.....if the photographs are original, of the food you prepared...well, they at least seem tasty :)
Attagal !! You've grown up :)

Cheena Chopra said...

Actually, these pictures are just an indication of how the real dishes might have looked :(
I got so busy eating them all that I forgot to click pictures; therefore, internet! :)
Hearing from you after such a long time! So glad to see your comment here :) Pray that you are doing great in all the fronts!

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