Saturday, 24 November 2012

Tulasi - Basil - Festival of India



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This extended festival of lights has always enchanted and enthralled me since childhood. Amma would say " keep some crackers for Tulasi Lagna" and we would obey, eagerly waiting for the D day. I would invariably ask amma whom Tulasi is getting married to and she would smile and say " Damodara i.e Krishna ". Then she would narrate the story. This is the story of Vrinda, the daughter of giant named Nemi and the faithful wife of demon Jalandhar. Being born in ocean, Jalandhar claimed supremacy over the ocean and all the treasures churned out  during Samudra Manthana. He declared war over Gods and could not be conquered because of the boon that he would be free from death till his wife Vrinda was chaste. Vishnu, in order to kill Jalandhar, assumes her husband's form and beguiles Vrinda. When she realises this, Vrinda curses Vishnu to become a stone ( Saligrama ). Vishnu regrets his action and in admiration of her impeachable chastity and piety, transfers her into the sacred Tulasi plant and promises to marry her annually on this day of Karthik month. The story is registered in my mind along with the heavenly aroma and the taste of laddige prasada amma would prepare on that day. ( yeah, I will give your the recipe!.)
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The Tulasi plant and Parijatha flower connected with our rich culture and vibrant heritage have always remained my favorites.  Parijatha with its divine and pristine beauty and Tulasi with her love for Lord Krishna and with the  her medicinal value have been on the top of my priority list of home plants. It has been my cherished  dream to have a big Parijatha tree in my aangan along with rows and rows of Tulasi plant.
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Alas!  I always proposed and thieves disposed. On many occasions whenever I chanced upon Tulasi seeds, plants or saplings at resorts, gardens and friends' houses, I would beg or borrow and bring them home. Living in a west faced house, I was always forced  to plant the seeds and saplings  on the compound in planter box.
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I would squeal in delight when rows of saplings would take life. But invariably in a week or so, to my chagrin,  my saplings would start disappearing.  I had  neighbors who would put up beautiful pots and plants on footpath without any problem and here I was losing every single sapling to these thieves. But like a never- say-die Trivikrama and  Bhageeratha I  would go on and on with my efforts and face the same results!
As if this was not enough, I had this " Gow Matha ", always pulling out my little "babies", if by any chance left by those thieves with her long tongue right in front of my eyes, disregarding my shouts and threats. I am really dismayed by their attitude and judgement! I have seen in many areas, besides their huge gardens, these "RICH(?)" people will occupy footpaths with  mini gardens and these "holy cows" sitting by the side of these gardens lazily munching with semi closed lids, never daring to even glance at the plants. Is it fear of "RICH N POWERFUL"? Naah! Methinks she just loves the taste of our little angels,  put up with all the love of our heart and soul !
I would try to deter her with some prickly boundaries. No sir! She would care two hoots for such silly tricks! As a last resort one day I put some big glass pieces as boundaries for my planter boxes. Hey! Don't look so flabbergasted! Genuinely I meant no harm, just wanted my kids to grow! Don't take side with her, she was not as innocent as she looked. I stood there when she  arrived and we both stared at each other. She would look at me and then at the glass boundary and at the plants beyond ! Did I see a glint of amusement, sarcasm or was it an indulgent motherly look  at we selfish human beings  in her eyes? Whatever -  she decided not to pursue and left me alone with my plants since then.
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Before I could heave  a sigh of relief and hope that all is well, this extraordinary incident happened.  One evening around 7.30, both myself and my husband Prakash were talking  in the balcony in the first floor. Suddenly Prakash looked down and exclaimed " Look! somebody is lifting your Tulasi pot!" This fellow beat everybody else in the game! Instead of plant, he had lifted the whole pot and before I could come out of my dismay and shout, he just coolly walked off !
I pulled Prakash's hand and dragged him down, pushed him on to  his bike and hopped behind him in my nightie.For  5-10 minutes we had totally lost any trace of him. But soon we could spot him walking in the next cross, holding the pot to his chest. As Prakash drove his bike by his side, I jumped from the bike, ran across and held him by the collar of his jerkin like a Zhansi Ki Rani!
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All the anger and frustration towards my unknown thieves came surging as I gave him a sound  piece of my mind. So stunned was he at being caught and at my verbal tirade that he even forgot to close his open mouth. By this time a few passersby had gathered, who were both angry at his misdemeanors  and bemused at my histrionics and  heroism! Like a trophy I carried my Tulasi back home a midst much fanfare from my husband and kids. But since then I have almost given up the hope in the face of such onslaught by these "petty" thieves, and my dream of having my little rows of Tulasi has remained just that... A dream...
One day... May be one day.............





             LADDIGE          ( Groundnut and Hurigadale Laadu )

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THIS IS SUCH A DELICIOUS AND MOUTH WATERING DISH, HARDLY TIME CONSUMING AND SO EASY TO MAKE THAT EVEN BEYOND THIS FESTIVAL  I   ALWAYS PREPARE IT WHICH IS RELISHED BY MY FAMILY AND  FRIENDS WITH DELIGHTFUL GLEE.



Ingredients :

Roasted and pounded Groundnuts    :    2 cups ( They should be pounded into big pieces,size of hurigadale  )
Hurigadale                                       :    2 cups
Jaggery powder                               :    1 1/2 cups
Ghee                                               :    1  cup                      
Elaichi powder                                 :    1 tea spoon

Preparation           :

In a thick bottomed kadai heat ghee and jaggery powder only till jaggery melts. Remove from the heat. Add elaichi powder, ounded groundnut, hurigadale and mix well. Wait till the heat recedes and then roll into laddoos.


HAPPY UTHANA DWADASHI !