Top Winter Food – You Must Try being a Rajasthani

What comes in your mind when you think of winters? Chapped lips and cracked heels? Cold and dry weather and heavy woollen wears? Sure winter is all about these, but do you also know that winter is the best season to improve immunity? During this time, people feel hungrier. Incredibly, the body engine works better in the winter and food is better digested. This aids in providing more nourishment to the body.

Fresh seasonal vegetables, dry fruits, dairy products, whole grains and rich fresh ghee! In winters, our body craves for rich food which provides warmth along with nourishment. Apart from the naturally available food, Indian (and specially Rajasthan) cuisine allow us discover the depth of richness of cooked food that is made especially in winters.

High energy and protein foods provide the required fuel to combat the cold. That’s why many Indian households make ‘sheera’ made up of rava, whole-wheat flour, moong-dal, vermicelli, daliaa, badam). ‘Halwa’ (gajar, doodhi, pumpkin etc.), ‘paak’ and ‘ladoos’ are best for this season. Fresh green fresh whole grains, available in Rajasthan and Gujarat, called ‘ponkh’ are considered a winter delicacy.

One cannot imagine the season without Garama-Garam Gajar ka Halwa with lots of kaju badam. Not just the deliciousness but due to its healthiness, one must not hesitate eating it due to calorie reasons. The beta-carotene in carrots is an excellent source of vitamin A and a powerful anti-oxidant. As far as the calorie factor is concerned, one must remember that anything confined within a limit is always beneficial.

Try delicious bajra, makai or jowar ki roti and serve hot with ghee and jaggery or with baingan bharta and udad ki dal. Jowar and bajra also make great meals during winter. They are rich in calcium and as winter is the time we strengthen our body, these millets help in absorption of calcium and build muscle tissue.

Raab is another specialty of Rajasthan that relishes in winters and can be made of makki, bajra or gur. Makki ki raab is the most popular. It is best suited for winters as it gives enough warmth to the body and thus combats cold.

Lapsi is a special sweet dish of Rajasthan which is meant to eat during winters. This fabulously tasty sweet dish features the goodness of broken wheat and the tantalizing aroma of cardamom.

Try eating garam pyaaz muli parathas with garlic chutney. White radish, onion and garlic (dry and spring varieties): Rich in isothiocyanates and indoles, phytochemicals that help prevent cancer. Their strong flavour helps to pep up the taste of food. Try eating onions and radish fresh as salad in large quantities.

When it comes to green, one cannot forget methi, palak and sarso in this season. We all know it better as methi, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients. It can lower cholesterol, help keep your diabetes under check and more. Make those methi parathas, today!

Palak is counted among the world’s healthiest veggies, thanks to its nutrient richness. Vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and a host of flavonoids that offer antioxidant protection – this leafy vegetable – have them all. Whether you choose to make some palak paneer, or just stir fry it, make sure you’re eating this one!

Eat the very special makki ki roti and sarso ki saag. The young tender leaves of the plant are flavorful. Fresh mustard greens are an excellent source of several vital antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and carotenes. Include the goodness of these leaves in your diet this winter season.

Hara Chana/Fresh Green Garbanzos is an absolute delight with the pods hanging from long leafy stems.   Boil them, add some tomatoes, onions, salt, lemon juice and red chili powder and serve as a snack. The traditional way is to roast it on a sigdi and then eat them. Delicious!

Roast or boil some peanuts and have them with your tea this chilly evening or make some peanut burfi or chikki with jaggery because they freshly arrive in the winter. Peanuts are rich in antioxidants and also provide warmth to our system. Peanuts are a good source of vitamin E and B3. Do you know, it is in fact a good source of monounsaturated fats, it is a heart-friendly food too.

Sesame seeds will keep you warm too. Give a try eating til ke laddoos and til chikkis this winter. Sesame seeds are best eaten during winter season as they produce heat in our body and also serve as a good source of calcium. It is best taken after a meal as it improves digestion. It is a good source of minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese and copper. These seeds help your skin to retain moisture too!

I’m sure no one dislikes eating peas. Add them in your pulav or make some yummy muttar panner. Peas, with their sweet taste and starchy texture come loaded with phytonutrients that provide us with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Further, recent research shows that these legumes can help prevent stomach cancer.

In winters another Rajasthan specialty is Gond ke laddoos. Enjoy discovering the special sweetness of this dessert.

Among fruits, Pomegranates are a good source of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant. It is also a good source of minerals like calcium and phosphorus. This combination works well in boosting our immunity”. Winter is the season for fresh citrus fruits and oranges are our top pick here. This tart-sweet fruit packs in a load of the very essential vitamin-C that helps your body in its fight against germs; in addition to potassium, folate, minerals and fibre. It’s low in calories too! Have you started eating them yet? Well, we have all heard it – “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away”. Bite into one for your mid-day snack, and reap its benefits! Papaya and pineapple are believed to provide warmth. Amla is loaded with Vitamin C, and is very good to step up your immunity. That’s the reason why ‘amla juice’ and ‘amla murabba‘ are available in plenty during winter.

Dates, along with the other dry fruits, are warm in nature and are highly recommended in the winter months. Not only are they a good source of fibre, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins (C and B3), they are also a good source of energy. Consume them as they are or as a barfi, pulp or added to milkshakes and smoothies.

The cold weather can interrupt your workout routine and can even send you on a mood roller coaster that can lead to overeating due to stress and boredom. Include proteins as well as carbohydrates in your diet. So this year, spend the cold season staying warm and healthy.

Happy winters Udaipurites!  🙂

Article Inspiration: MyDestination.com

Eve Teasing: A Curse on Society

EVE TEASING: CURSE ON SOCIETY

Eve Teasing in Udaipur

A lewd stare, a sly whistle, a well-timed clap, an unwarranted bump, a seemingly casual touch, a lingering look at a vulnerable time, cheap gestures, the humming of a suggestive song, passing downright crude comments, bikes flying close with hands stretched to grope you!! Yes, eve teasing can take any form. And the ways an eve teaser can harass a woman is surely endless!

Eve teasing is an awful act that injects shame, fear, disgust and helplessness in the victim. I don’t think it would be wrong if I say that eve teasing has become an inseparable part of every girl’s life. Eve teasing is a common incident, be it in buses, shopping arcades, cinema halls, pubs, restaurants, bus stops, railway booking counters and every other conceivable place. Keeping aside the big metropolitan cities, even in a small beautiful city like Udaipur, it is shocking that the incidents of eve teasing are increasing at an alarming rate.

Udaipur blog recently received a mail from a victim of eve teasing revealing the incident that she experienced while driving a two-wheeler. Since then, our team has been talking to many girls and surprisingly, almost every girl had one or more recent bad experience of being eve teased in one or other way. Crap, what has happened to our city!

Nikita (changed name), an engineering student says “Girls are never safe in the streets. Even waiting for a bus on the University road is made traumatic when sick comments are made by nuisance creatures.” Aditi added to this saying “And in the bus some brainless boys bump into us intentionally.” No doubt, girls have to definitely be on their guard all the time when in the market or a shopping mall. After all, no one knows when and how do the uncivilized people creep in to display their ‘lack of culture’!

Women who are on a vehicle are easy targets; bikes chase them and they get even more hyper if an attempt is made to speed up the vehicle. Rashmi (changed name) described UB Team about how some uncivilized boys ill-behaved while she was driving. “Right from my way from Fatehpura to Sardarpura it was thrice that I faced bikers who passed lewd comments and tried obstructing my path. Limits crossed when one of them pushed me down and got me injured. Eve teasers seek thrill in ripping behind girls in a hazardous manner, proving themselves so-called brave!”

Some people directly accuse dressing of a girl. “Oh! What am I wearing today!” Nidhi, an ex-student of BN Girls College ponders when she sees an eve teaser on the road. “These guys make you conscious even while sporting a decent Salwaar Kameez! We end up getting seriously jacked!”

There is a definite pattern in which an eve teaser behaves. An eve teaser gains confidence when he notices that the girls he abuses do nothing to harm him. He gets even more encouraged by girl’s silence. He enjoys watching the girl spew fiery words on him or squirm in disgust. It is only after he is dragged to the police station that he accepts his fault and pleads for mercy. An interesting aspect here is that an eve teaser will not reveal his address or allow the police to contact his residence. He will do anything as long as he ensures that his family is oblivious to his act of eve teasing.

Real problem is that girls are hesitant to inform their parents about an incident of eve teasing; as they know from past experience that they would be the only ones to be affected adversely. Their activities and clothes would fall under scrutiny; late nights would be curbed, wantonly by strict parents and on a sub-conscious level by parents who are supportive. How ironical!

There are various myths related to eve teasing. One of the biggest points is that eve teasing is propagated by wicked group of people. Absolutely not! He can be any normal looking guy. Next is, if this is ignored, it will go away or solve itself. No! Doing that would in fact encourage the culprit to get even stronger. Another belief, that eve teasers are macho men who accost anyone, is wrong. Eve teasers are cowards by nature and are experts in selecting the right time to target defenseless and meek woman who will not react in an assertive manner against their misdeeds. Lastly, if anyone thinks that talking about facts will solve the problem then, wow! This article will have solved the problem by the time this is published! Unfortunately it’s not that easy.

According to me, an eve teaser having witnessed many incidents of disrespect to women at home might have added to this perversion. It has something to do with their upbringing, or some insecurity in him that he takes out by targeting girls, a tacky way of feeling macho!

I feel that parents should chat with their daughters and ask them to be bold when faced by such an issue and they should also advise their sons to not ever indulge in such cheap acts. Obviously, family values influence one’s character and deeds. Victims can make an eve-teaser sweat by raising a hue and cry immediately. Public reaction and condemnation scares the wits out of the eve-teaser. Every person caught eve teasing should be dealt with in all sternness and there should not be any lenience for first time offenders. The best way to deter stubborn eve teasers who defy and question authority is to produce them before their family and unmask their true instincts. The sense of shame will ensure that they never resort to such a thing again. The public should rush to the aid of the victim girl and a more concrete step would be that of publishing photos of eve teasers in newspapers along with details of their unclean act. Stern follow-up by police would help a lot.

I agree that everyone has a pile of work to attend to, but they have to spare a few moments to take note of these aberrations in society and reprimand the eve teasers sternly, this collective public behavior will go a long way in curbing the menace of eve teasing.

Gavari – A Dance Drama of Bhils

Gavari Performance
Photo Credit: traditionalindianmusic.co.uk

Vibrant, vigorous and graceful! Folk dances of Rajasthan performed gracefully by the colorful crowd punctuate Rajasthan’s barrenness, turning even the deserts into fertile basin of limitless colors and variations of the amazing folks living here. One of these rich festivals is GAVARI, which is a distinct art form found in the cultural heritage of the Bhils who express the devotion and faith to Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati through Folk Dance, Music and Folklores. It also symbolizes human love for forests, animals and people. Quite unique and impressive, isn’t it?

Rajasthan encompasses numerous tribes having distinct identities in term of costumes, dialects, beliefs and arts. People have nurtured a splendid tradition of folk songs and folk dances of which Gavari is unique in itself which is celebrated by Bhils. The Bhils are the original inhabitants and tribal of Mewar- Vagad area of southern Rajasthan which was gradually conquered and inhabited by Rajput kings and other northern settlers around 3rd to 4th century BC.

After the monsoons, in the months of September and October the forty-days-festival “GAVARI” is celebrated by Bhil tribe in Udaipur, Rajsamand and Chittor districts of Rajasthan. Whole male folk, even children participate in this dance-drama symbolizing a healthy environment and it intends to ensure the well-being to the community and the village. While only Bhils perform them, other castes attends the performances and offer donations. During this period, people do not eat any green vegetables, stay away from alcohol and avoid being non-vegetarian. They sleep on grounds and avoid taking bath (except on Dev-Jhulani Ekadasi).

gavari mewarGavri Mewar – via: gavari.wordpress.com

There is no definite origin of gavari. Some beliefs say the story of demon Bhasmasur who worshiped Lord Shiva, who pleased with bhashmasur’s devotion, granted him a strange wish that whenever he keeps his hand on anyone’s heads that person will die burning in fire. Thereafter, Bhasmasur started misusing the grant by killing innocent people on earth. Lord Vishnu to resolve the problem transformed himself into a beautiful woman named Mohini – the dancer and went to Bhasmasur. Bhasmasur fascinated by her beauty started imitating her dance and kept his hand on his head to copy mohini, thereby departed his life.

Bhasmasur’s soul asked forgiveness from lord Shiva and appealed Lord to keep him alive in minds of people in return of his great devotion. Lord Shiva thereafter declared that, for paying homage to a great devotee like Bhasmasur, Gavri will be celebrated every year. Since then this fest is organized in the region of Mewar by the Bhil Community.

According to another belief, Lord Shiva had been ruler of Mewar ever since times unknown.  Eklingji, a place about 17 km. away from Udaipur, was believed to be his holy abode. Once, Goddess Parvati, his spouse, had gone to visit her father’s home for a long period of a month and a quarter. Deeply in love with his wife, the long separation ran Shiva into deep melancholic mood. To amuse him, the devotees Ganas (who were Bhils) devised an entertainment program made up of dancing, singing and theatrical activities. The event eventually became ritualistic and took form of Gavari, which is now an integral part of socio-cultural and religious life of the Bhils.

In this folk play there are four kinds of characters – dev, humans, demons and animals. The RAI and BURIYA are the two main mythological characters to form the GAVARI, Bhil ritual performance. In GAVARI dance-drama group, there are two RAIs in form of PARVATI (GORJA) and MOHINI goddesses in female costumes who always stays or sits in the centre of the performing circle. The BHURIYA as Bhashmasur – keeps a wooden mask of black surrounding bull tail hair on his face and carrying a wooden stick or “Chhari“, always walks in opposite direction to other performers. The other priests as Bhairon and goddess Mata, stays with RAI as a guard to her.

Mostly in the day time they perform GAVARI in the village where they enact different mythological and social episodes with MADAL and THALI as their main musical instruments. People go from village to village, especially to the villages where their daughters and sisters reside after getting married.

gawri udaipur
Photo by: Pramod Soni

Any open space can serve as a stage. For five to six hours each day; the troupe performs a series of episodes. On two occasions the festivity lasts all night. Like many Indian rituals, these scenes blend secular, folk, and Hindu epic characters with references to local daily life. Despite some comic scenes, the Gavari ritual is generally solemn, ending with the appearance of gods and goddess, and often including trance among both performers and audience.

In Gavari, the last day of performance, rituals the Bhil Gavari players also dance and perform in the night as night awakening rituals. With other legends, they also perform the “Hiraniya Bhoot” or ghost performance in which two artists plays the role of ghost in which they covered the body with the grass.

Gavari is played so skillfully by these tribal people that it produces the impact of an eye catching scene, the magical effect of which makes the viewers stop and stay on to watch it and get engaged until the episode reaches its end. Gavari, not only holds its audience spellbound for whole day long, but also refreshes and energizes performers as well. Gavari is thus a valuable cultural inheritance bestowed by the tribal from one generation to the other and from one century to the following one.

Featured Photo Credit: mountainridge.in

Raksha Bandhan: Joyous Festival of Eternal Kinship

rakhi celebrations

Experiencing joys and sorrows together, sharing enormous laughters and wiping tears, cute chit-chats and endless pillow-fights, sense of togetherness and the never-ending complaints! All these sweet and tangy tastes of emotions can be found in the most beautiful relation, yes, none other than the brother-sister relation! These colorful shades of memories of brother-sister relation becomes worth cherishing even more while tying the sacred knot of rakhi on the auspicious day of Raksha Bandhan every year.

After the beautiful green monsoon season, rakhi that falls on shravan purnima, brings with it the colorful “season of festivals”. There are several interesting historical evidences as well as mythological descriptions mingled up with this festival that reminds us of its significance. The most popular historical narrative is about Rani Karnavati of Chittor who sent a rakhi to the mughal emperor, humayun, after which he fought against Bahadur Shah Zafar and restored the kingdom to rani’s son. Raksha bandhan is mentioned in our epics as festival of gods. Yamuna used to tie rakhi to his brother yama (god of death), impressed by which he declared that whoever got a rakhi tied would become immortal! Another incidence from the epic Mahabharata concerns draupadi who once tied a torn piece of her saari to lord Krishna’s wrist to stanch the bleeding from a battlefield wound. Krishna got so much touched by her action that he declared her to be his sister and always protected her.

Sweet Shop during Rakhi in Udaipur

Rakhi Shopping

Almost one month before the commencement of rakhi, the market gets laded up with fancy, attractive and colorful rakhis of different shapes and sizes. Almost every shop in Udaipur, be it sweet shops, garment shops, gift shops, or any other shop, all are flooded with attractive rakhi gifts. Ladies shop for new clothes and beautiful rakhi gifts specially the one that has to be sent to their brothers staying far.  Family gatherings, celebrations, exchange of sweets and gifts, lots of noise, singing and dancing!!! Festivals are the celebration of togetherness as being as a united family and like any Indian festival, raksha bandhan is not an exception. On the day of Rakhi, sisters decorate the beautiful pooja thali with diya, roli, chawal, rakhi thread and sweets. She bestows her brother with gifts and blessings while carrying out the rituals. In return, brothers wish her a good life and pledges to take care of her lifelong.

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha bandhan goes beyond the confines of blood and familial relations. The tradition encourages celebrating the sacred festival of rakhi with the neighbors and close friends; thus allowing a strong social structure. Though it is a festival denoting National sentiments of harmony, raksha bandhan is the most special festival for all the siblings.

We brothers and sisters share the most beautiful, divine and undying relation of all. One can see us flipping out on each other like mads and then having a blast together, the very next moment. It’s so cool making fun of others together and in next to no time, realizing that you yourself have become a joke by the other. You annoy, interfere, criticize, and indulge in mammoth huffs, gasps, in sulks, in snide remarks. You borrow, you break. You monopolize the bathroom. But, but, but! If catastrophe should strike, you are the ones defending each other against all comers. You share childhood memories and grown-up dreams. You are the ones who are there with each other from the dawn of the personal stories to the inevitable dusk. You are the mirror, shining back at each other with a world of possibilities. The witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. You are each other’s partner in sweet crimes, the midnight companions, pillow fighters, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. No, we haven’t gone diverted from the topic of raksha bandhan at all. Actually, Raksha bandhan is that special sentimental festival that salutes this sweet and sour relation and gives us a chance to treasure a day memorizing all the childhood days and discover the deep affections in heart for our siblings and all the kinfolk we love.

So, Udaipies, don’t miss the chance to make your siblings feel special on this special day. Something that I personally would like to devote to my sweet younger brother is as- “I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God elude me. I sought my brother and I found all three.” Have a bash, Udaipies! Happy Raksha Bandhan! 😀

This full moon day our hearts are in brim
Feeling of faith and serenity in mind.
We light the lamps and our hears glow
Radiance of happiness and peace are in flow.
Harmonious homes are like streams of joy
Flowing and flourishing the landscape en route.
Nobility in heart and character in deed
Righteous homes alone make a beautiful State.
Sisters will tie the thread on the brothers
Abiding them to do only what is right and clean.
Put the Kumkum and blessed rice on the head
Where will dwell right thoughts and noble action.

         – APJ Abdul Kalam

Photos by : Yash Sharma, Dimpy Chundawat