Today marks the ending of the old and the starting of the new, a day celebrated all across India known by different names. Baisakhi in Nothern India, Bohag Bihu in Assam, Pohela Boisakh in West Bengal, and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu among many others, all signifying the beginning of the Hindu New Year.
Being celebrated during the harvest season and sowing season, this day inevitably revolves around farmers and their produce, showcasing the fruit of their hard work and praying for a new year of good weather, food and health.
Here are 4 ways different regions of India celebrate the Hindu New Year through food:
Baisakhi in Punjab marks the coronation of the tenth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh and the historic formation of Khalsa. A day signifying victory over external forces, and the emergence of the Sikh identity.
The typical celebratory menu of Baisakhi contains authentic Punjabi dishes from makke di roti to Pindi chole. One particular dish that is very unique is meethe bhature. A mix of refined flour and whole wheat flour, kneaded only using melted liquid jaggery and rolled into small bhaturas and deep-fried.
- Bohag Bihu:
Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu is the celebration of the Assamese New Year, signified by the starting of the sowing season. A festival of Assam’s unique culture, it is celebrated through dance, music and food.
Being a festival that starts from early morning and ends late in the night, every meal is important, especially breakfast. A proud Assamese myself, I love gorging on sticky rice that is cooked in bamboo stems, topped with yoghurt and sweetened with shaved or melted jaggery.
- Pohela Boisakh:
Meaning the first of the month of Baisakh is the noboborsho or the new year of the Bengali calendar.
An epitome of festive Bengali food, while being sombre is undoubtedly the shukto. It is stew where vegetables like brinjal, plantain, bitter gourd, sheem, drumsticks and everything that else is in season are stewed in a mustard gravy and served with rice. Its simplicity makes the produce sine while being gobsmackingly delicious.
Puthandu is the Tamil New Year signifying the spring equinox. A celebration carried out through gift-giving, visiting loved ones and feasting, the star of the feast being mangai pachadi.
Mangai Pachadi is a mango chutney that contains a combination of the 6 flavours representing life, an experience of multiple emotions all at once. Raw mango, the star ingredient imparts sour notes, sugar for sweetness, salt for savouriness, neem flower for bitterness, spice from chilli and mustard seeds for astringency. All cooked together and tempered.
Wishing You All A Very Happy Hindu New Year!