This time around when Sankranthi arrived, I got really excited after watching all the Ponggal and Sankranthi pictures, as well as videos, on my Facebook wall. The pandemic did not stop people from celebrating these festivals, especially with their close family members.
Rewinding to 1995 – I would like to reminisce and narrate my Sankranthi celebration in my late grandma’s (Durgalamma’s) presence. My late grandma (I address her as mama) used to get a little fussy (and strict) while preparing for Sankranthi. Three days before the actual Sankranthi day, grandma would place 9 types of vegetables at a corner in the house (the selected corner would be prepared with an altar). Well, I wasn’t really fond of the corner, but of course I was just following and watching her curiously.
She explained to me that her mother (my great grandmother) had told her that the corner represents our ancestors and since Sankranthi is about showing gratitude and gratefulness, we placed our ancestor’s photos at the corner with some vegetables as offerings (probably my farming ancestors would had placed their own harvest as offerings, as Sankranthi is a harvest festival).
Okay, now back to my grandma: as a curious seven year old, I did think that she was a weird old lady. On the morning of Sankranthi day, grandma would take the vegetables that were placed at the corner and would cook all of it (kalagura) in a delicate way without any onions (I am not sure about garlic 🙈).
Oh my! I should tell you guys this – My grandma was absolutely very strict in selecting the types of vegetables for the offerings. Only root vegetables and vine-plant types were allowed (eg. sweet potatoes, yam, cluster beans). She told me that those vegetables signify prosperity.
My family still continues this tradition as we believe that it gives us a sense of belonging and comfort, especially during the ‘makan besar time’. Our entire family will sit together to eat our Sankranthi Bhojana (harvest festival feast), along with our Telugu delicacies.