Certain traditions are followed in every household during Ganesh Chaturthi. NT BUZZ speaks to different people about these
SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ
Ganesh Chaturthi is just a day away and it is a given fact that every Hindu is busy in preparations. People spend hours in market selecting the materials for decoration even while the ‘makhar’, where the idol is installed, is all decked up a day or two in advance. We see another set of people buying new utensils and shopping groceries in bulk. Basic spices and ingredients like sugar, salt, pulses, grains, masalas are bought anew to prepare fresh dishes.
Since the Matoli is required to stay fresh till the final day of Chaturthi, only a few fruits and vegetables are bought days prior to Chaturthi. People now often narrow down their choice of fruits and vegetables, those don’t perish easily.
Besides, cleaning the house for the Chaturthi, there are many seemingly chaotic situations that run in the background. Although many feel it is hectic, the real fun lies in the preparation phase itself, when everyone is set to come together to celebrate the festival, often in their ancestral homes.
Those who don’t celebrate the festival are generally not aware of certain aspects of Ganesh Chaturthi. Here is a list of certain facts and traditions around the festival:
New and separate vessels in use for Ganesh Chaturthi
Some Hindus divide their kitchen utensils into vegetarian and non-vegetarian utensils. There are others who do not follow this segregation on regular basis, but for Ganesh Chaturthi, they will sometimes buy new vessels that are then kept separate throughout the year until they find use for them during the next Chaturthi celebrations.
Writer, Harsha Shetye has her own museum of antique Goan utensils and loves to know the details about each vessel and their use. She says that for Ganesh Chaturthi, devotees offer ‘satvik’ food – cooked without onion and garlic – to Lord Ganesha. It is considered to be pure vegetarian. Hence, any utensils used to cook ingredients like onion, garlic, fish or meat, are not utilised for Chaturthi.
“We have special vessels for Chaturthi at our ancestral house in Bicholim that are only removed out for use during the festival. All copper and brass vessels are taken out three to four days prior to Ganesh Chaturthi. A special kadai known as ‘lokhane’ (made of copper and iron) is used to fry sweets like modak and nevri. A copper steamer ‘sanan dhakno’ is used to steam patolyos,” explains Shetye.
The old vessels are wiped with tamarind and salt to remove all the dust gathered over teh metal when stored throughout the year.
Rukma Sardesai tells us about the vessels, steel bowls and plates that are used to serve ‘prasad’ and ‘naivedya’ after every arati. ‘Pure vegetarian’ vessels are used here too. Some families do not mix these utensils in kitchen for preparing the food.
Old vessels are washed thoroughly and dried with clean cloth while sometimes, they are sun dried. She opines that if a few members get together, the job can be done is a very short span of time: “It depends on each one and the family actually. I personally feel the your heart has to clean while you’re celebrating this festival. We use the separate clean utensils no doubt but we also have to cleanse our heart off all the negativities in us.”
Special dishes of Ganesh Chaturthi
Many big families come together at their ancestral homes and in such situations it is considered of utmost importance that traditional food items are cooked. Sabina Mahesh Naik from Comba celebrates her Chaturthi at ancestral home. She states that besides usual dishes like moong, khatkhate, vaingyache (brinjal) bhart, five types of fried ingredients, varan, saar, ros the family also prepares tere, patolyo, nevryo, nave ghalun pays, shevyachi kheer, pach panachi bhaji, aalloo.
“Basic foods are prepared for all the festival days. However, certain ingredients are prepared only on certain days. We prepare aalloo on the last day, and khatkhate is prepared on the day of Chaturthi. Sweets however differ every day. There are some people who prefer rotis for dinner, which we prepare in the late evening,” says Sabina. Interestingly, this menu has been consistent since they started celebrating Chaturthi.
The family hasn’t skipped any of these speciality dishes till date. A special cook visits their house in the morning to help them in the kitchen on all days. Further, they maintain the tradition of serving food on a banana leaf and in ‘pangats’.
Ranjana Vadiye from Margao says that they have a different menu on all three days – the day of ‘tay’ (a day celebrated by some Hindus to worship Lord Shankar and Goddess Parvati) has patoie and paach palyanchi bhaji; the day of Chaturthi has a preparation of sweets loved by Lord Ganesh such as nevri, modak, etc with the usual dishes for lunch; on the third day it is rice cakes, navyacho pays, ambadyache rayte among others.
She says that they serve and eat the food in ‘pangats’. However, many families today have switched to buffet style of service as per their convenience.
‘Aangvan’ during Chaturthi
Most people have a fixed nuber of days to celebrate Chaturthi. In Goa, most of the families celebrate for one and a half day, while there are few who prefer to celebrate for five, seven, nine, eleven or 21 days.
There are some families that have a tradition of asking for a wish, that if granted they would extend the days of celebrating Chaturthi the following year. Vishal Gauns Dessai tells us that they have kept the celebration of Chaturthi over five days and even for seven days in particular years. “We usually celebrate this festival for one and half days. If our wishes are granted we can extend the celebration for more days,” he adds that there are times when wish is not fulfilled yet people extend the celebrations as prayed the previous year. “We have experienced many times,” adds Vishal. He has not wished for anything so far but to celebrate the joy of his new born daughter he once held Chaturthi for five days.
Many families do not follow this tradition; Puja Dhargalkar, a student from Davorlim states that they celebrate only for one and half days. She mentions that her family is comfortable with short time of celebration with whole-hearted and sincere devotion.
Chaturthi while the family is in mourning
Vishal says that this year they will not celebrate Chaturthi as they are mourning (12 days called as ‘sutak’) for the death of one of their distant relatives. They will commemorate the festival a day prior to Pancham that occurs during Navratri. On this day, family gets Lord Ganesha in the morning for one day at home and does the visarjan in the evening.
In Hinduism, if a baby is born during any festival, it is called ‘suver’ for 12 days and the Chaturthi festivities are postponed to a day during Navratri. Sarita Naik, a teacher says: “To think logically, when someone is dead, the situation at home is tensed; and when someone is born there are a lot of responsibilities towards the new born and the mother. Festivals take up a lot of energy, this the first 12 days are considered as rest days.”