Post all the gaiety of Christmas and the new year, festivities don’t seem to stop! Not for those who have Sankaranti, Lohri, Boghi…. a festival with so many different names across India but the same spirit, on Jan 15th! It signifies the onset of spring and an end to the cold weather (albeit, only in some parts of the world like here ).
We are still cold here in Bengaluru, with temps dipping to 15 deg! Oh my! Kidding apart, Sankaranti, like most Indian festivals offers another opportunity to cook, eat and of course, share it with near and dear. Households get busy a month in advance, making the yellu bella – a mixture of roasted peanuts, jaggery, copra (dry coconut) and sesame seeds, which we used to love as kids!
Yellu bella in Sid’s snack box
Then there’s the sugarcane and all the bruised teeth from trying to be macho and eating it off the stick. I must say I’ve mellowed down and now need to chop it into neat little pieces before sinking my teeth into one!
The painstaking making of the sakkare acchu (sugar sweets made in moulds) is something to watch. We used to be quire fascinated with the process as kids. Sugar is melted slowly and poured into wooden moulds and left to cool. Once set, take off the mould and you have lovely peacock shapes, flowers, and the like.
This beautiful elephant mould is from Sum’s Cuisine
The social part of the festival, is of course, sharing these goodies with others. Typically, a portion of the yellu, a sugar sweet and a piece of sugarcane along with some fruit is shared in a small box. Of late, what bothers me, however, is that plastic has become a huge part of this sharing. We are out there buying plastic boxes, plastic trays and plastic everything to package the goodies.
Here are a couple of small ideas to avoid plastic – using recyclable material you have at home. I know I should have posted this before the festival but there was no time. So here they are anyway, for you to try out the next time you’re looking to give away something!
When you buy products, try and get those with removable labels and preferably no print on the lids. They make for great recycling!
A slightly larger jar will hold a tiny banana too, along with the haldi-kumkum and yellu bella. Of course, the sugar cane piece won’t fit but you can carry that separately.
So save all those jars and bags! Jewellery bags, saree bags, knick-knack bags and boxes. You never know when you can make an original festival package!