As the monsoon showers burst upon us, it takes me back to the fun I had as a child. While the fun was different at different stages of life, each went on to create ever lasting memories in my mind. The earliest of which is the one in my childhood.
I still remember the start of the school year coinciding with the onset of monsoons in Mumbai. As we wrapped our new books in brown covers, the raincoats would come out and new uniforms would get pressed. Ready for a new beginning. I guess that’s why I associate monsoons with renewal! The petrichor always reminds me of new books and fills me with excitement of embarking on a new journey.
The monsoons also herald the onset of festivals. According to the Hindu calendar, the Varsha rutu which includes the months of Shravan and Bhadrapad is the time when many festivals are celebrated. As my aaji and Mom fasted during the “Shravani Somvaars”, I remember waking up to the smell of sabudana khichdi, a traditional dish of Maharashtra . A lot of people had Satyanarayan Poojas in Shravan. As a child, I would look forward to the one in our house. I still remember the homemade delicacy of potato and green peas vegetable and puris served on that day! It was divine!
With the full moon would come Narli Purnima and Rakshanbandhan, On Narali Purnima, Aaji always made karanjis stuffed with jaggery and coconut, and naralchi wadi or coconut barfi. Both these are amongst the best maharashtrian sweets you can have. Rakshabandhan was incomplete without siblings and cousins getting together for a meal of shrikhand puri and a game of antakshari or dumb charades.
Then came Lord Krishna’s birthday, Janmaashtami. Mom and Aaji used to fast on that day and prepare Lord Krishna’s favourite foods. There would be kheer, gopalkala which is curd, poha, cucumber, green chillies and coconut mixed together. The highlight for me would be panchamrit. During the pooja, Lord Krishna would be bathed in it and then it was given to us as prasad. Made with honey, cow’s milk, ghee, curd and sugar, not only did it taste good but also was extremely nutritious.
My favourite festival during Shravan was Ganesh Chaturthi. And it so remains till this day! I remember as a child, I would eagerly wait for the arrival of Ganpati Bappa. The entire house started preparing for his arrival weeks in advance. The house was thoroughly cleaned and decorated, there were deep discussions on the menu for each day and lists were made for things to be purchased. Everyone was assigned a duty. We were of course awaiting the arrival of the most important guest of them all! The day the Lord arrived; the entire atmosphere turned festive. The aartis and the shloks reverberated everywhere. Invitations to come home for Ganpati were extended to everyone in the building. The spread laid out for Lord Ganesh was fabulous! The highlight of course were the ukdiche modak made of steamed rice flour, coconut and jaggery or kaakvi.
With the departure of Ganpati on Anant Chaturdashi, with tearful requests of Pudchya Varshi Lavkar Ya, the fun and frolic of two months of Shravan came to an end.
Author: Harshada Khanolkar, Yoga Therapist & Life Coach