Tuesday, June 27, 2006
'Harisree Ganapathaye Namah Avighnamastu'....Ganesha or Vigneshwara,the elephant God of the Hindus,the Lord of wisdom,enjoys a lot of priorities over the rest of the great pantheon of Hindu Gods.Known for his 'bhakthi'(devotion) and 'bhukthi'(eating),Lord Ganesha has the prerogative of being the first one to be invoked in any Hindu Puja.He is the lord responsible for removing all our obstructions(Vighnas) for our Satkarmas(good actions)and no Hindu puja generally starts without invoking him. The Ganesh festival is perhaps one of the most important among the several democratic festivals of India where every Indian take part in the celebration.Elders and children alike love this sweet and naughty God,the benevolent protector of the righteous,ruthless destroyer of the evil and the most generous when pleased!Ganesh festivals in Mumbai Sidhi Vinayak temple,Kanipakam temple in Andhra etc are perhaps the most famous....
Here is an interesting excerpt about Lord Ganesha:"Ganesha's elephantine head and human body are in fact symbolic of 'tvam'- His elephantine countenance representing 'tat' and their joining together signifies the the union of 'tvam' (You) and 'tat' (Brahman,the cosmic consciousness). Thus, the body of Ganesha is the visible representation of the highest reality, Brahman, realised from 'tat tvam asi'. Another explanation is that Ganesha's head signifies 'Atman' the Highest Reality, while the body below the neck represents mAyA, the principle of phenomenal existence. The Atman's involvement with the world is characterised by the assumption of mind and speech. Ganesha's ears, which appear like large winnowing baskets, have a philosophical significance too. Just as one uses a winnowing basket to separate grains from dirt, one must use discrimination (viveka) to separate the real (Brahman) from the unreal (mAyA) in life. Here the grains stand for Brahman and the dirt signifies mAyA. Or, Ganesha's ears indicate that such discrimination between Brahman and mAyA is to be gained by taking recourse to SravaNa or hearing."
Lord Ganesh was born on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapad (August/September). This festival is celebrated for 10 days from Ganeshchaturthi - birth -date-to Anantchaturdashi - the final 10th day of his 'immersion'.
In several states of India, clay idols of Ganesh in varying sizes are brought home the day previous to Ganesh Chaturthi,the day of Hartalik when women keep fast and invoke the blessings of goddess Parvati,Ganesh's mother.Mass worship made to life-size or even bigger images of Ganesha in most streets.Lord Ganesh is very fond of sweets and so kheer, panchamrit,modaks(in counts of 21 or 108),fruits and sweets are placed before him as "Naivedya" or "Bhog" (offering). After the rituals are over,this "Bhog" is distributed as "Prasad".On the day of immersion,on the 10th day after performing "Puja", the idol is taken out in a huge procession-a rich camaraderie of Indian culture with people who dancing and singing..."Ganapati Bappa Moriya", Pudhachya varshi lavkar ya" (Return early next year, oh Victorious Lord Ganesh).
(hope my Marathi is right!)On the 10th day the sea fronts are packed with surging crowd and the idols are immersed in the water.Ganesh festival over a period of time has acquired such a democratic face that often it has been a platform for our several freedom struggle leaders for the political awakening.
Well,coming back to Modak, it is one of the most important home made speciality of the Ganesh pooja.My Iyer ponnu never forgot to bring me a box full of modaks everytime she came back to the hostel after the Ganesh puja.It was she who shared me the recipe.She used to bring me the modakam and the 'karanji'.Modak is made of rice flour while karanji is made of maida.....but in some parts of India, karanji is also called modak for the filling is almost the same.These Modaks are distributed daily on these festival days to all those who come home.Well, with time Modak has also evolved the filling has become richer but the shape remains the same and the taste, amazing!Usually, modaks have an outer crust of rice flour, and a sweet filling of coconut and jaggery.Some add Khova/Khoya/evaporated milk ).Modaks are then steamed(covered with turmeric leaves for aroma)and are served either hot or cold. They are deep-fried to increase their shelf life.
Rice flour-1 cup
A pinch of salt
Fresh grated coconut-2 cups
Roasted poppy seeds-1 tsp
Rice flour-1 tsp
cardamom powder-1/2 tsp
Almonds-50g(optional)(chop into small pieces,rub and remove the husk)
Oil-for deep frying(for fried variety)
Prepare the filling by mixing grated coconut,roasted poppy seeds,khoya,almonds and cardamom flower on slow fire,stirring continuosly into a brownish mixture.If you are not sure of the quality of your jaggery,you can melt the jaggery in a sauce pan,sieve it and remove the impurities and the add it to the coconut,khoya mixture.Once the mixture is ready remove from fire and keep it to cool.
Boil water with a table spoon of oil/ghee and a pinch of salt. When it starts boiling, add the rice flour slowly(just like you do for 'pathiri') and mix well on reduced flame. It has to become a continuous pliable dough. Remove from the fire and then cool it. Once it has cooled enough to be kneaded with your hand,knead it well with oiled hands,it should be neither sticky nor dry.Make small balls of the dough.Oil your hands and press the dough to make a circle (thinner the better).Make a small indentation in the middle.Take a tsp of the filling and place it in the middle of the circle,pull together the edges and twist twist them to the shape of a fig/ kiss chocolate .Now keep it ready on a greased plate and then steam it like idlis.See to it that one modak does not touch the other.If you are using a pressure cooker, do not place the cooker weight/whistle.But if you want fried modakam/karanji, heat oil in a wok and fry the filled modaks in oil; or alternatively you can use maida for preparing the outer covering.(Mix Maida,water and salt and make a pliant dough,like the chappathi dough, make small rounds and fill in with the same ingredients and deep fry till golden brown).Serve it hot with a drizzle of ghee over it!
Posted by indianadoc at 12:08 PM