January 14th, 2016- Makara Sankranthi (Sankranti) or Pongal is a traditional Indian harvest festival that marks the onset of spring in India. Living in US for the past 6 years, I have always tried my best to celebrate Indian festivals here with the same amount of zeal and enthusiasm. This year too, as always, I celebrated Sankranthi. It being baby A’s First Makar Sankranthi, was a special day for us. P and I took off on January 14th and 15th to celebrate the festival with baby A in a grandiose way. We gave him oil bath in the morning, put new clothes on him and performed all the rituals, all thanks to my mil’s guidance. Usually, for the baby’s first year, we fill the silver chombu (utensil) with ellu(sesame seeds mixed with finely chopped jaggery, coconut) and sakkare achchus (recipe here), take dristi of the baby(to ward off evil eyes) and distribute that ellu and achchus to our friends and family. Seated on a wooden plank, P comfortably made baby A sit on his lap, while I performed the rituals of placing vermilion on baby A’s forehead, took dristi of him by waving a silver chombu in front of him and also performed aarthi in a silver plate with water blended with pinch of vermilion. MIL had prepared delicious festive food like Khara Pongal, Sweet Pongal, Ambode (Masala Vada), pumpkin curry and pumpkin halwa. After fulfilling our appetite, we spent the rest of the day packing goodies for our friends, who would be visiting us the next day, to celebrate sankranthi festival at our home. Since it was baby A’s first sankranthi and because he is a boy, we gifted silver krishna along with yellu and achchus in the goodies.
January 15th, 2016 – In the evening, our friends visited us with their kids. We decked up baby A with Indian kurtha and pyjama that my bro had gifted. I am very pleased that it fit him almost perfectly, despite him being just 4 months old. In our living room, a wide carpet was spread out and wooden planks were neatly placed on it, along a straight line. All the kids were made to sit cross-legged on it. Sankranthi botike (shower) was performed on the kids by pouring a small cup filled with yellu (sesame seeds mixed with jaggery and coconut pieces), finely cut pumpkin pieces and also cranberries ( a substitute for yelchi hannu) on their tiny heads to ward off evil. For most of the kids, it was the first time that they were exposed to this rituals and they went bonkers. This cup was later passed onto the hands of all the mothers to perform it on their kids. Later, all the ladies performed aarthi with vermilion water. Festive dinner was later served. It was a great event to kick off 2016 and baby B had a blast too! 🙂