Every year, on the last day of the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin , Grandma would cook a special dal. Eight dals, she would narrate to me and Dada, cooked with eight vegetables.
The dal would be offered to the deities in the evening and left overnight in the backyard, under the heavens, a humble wicker basket placed over the pot. For the autumnal dew drops to bless the dal.
“আশ্বিনে রাঁধে, কার্তিকে খায়
যেই বর মাগে, সেই বর পায়”
Make a wish, Grandma would remind us as we sat down for lunch the next day, (the first day of the Hindu calendar month of Kartik) and your wish shall come true.
But why do we celebrate this ? A curious me asks.
This is a tribute to Mother Nature, Grandma elaborates, her magical transformation as one season departs, heralding the arrival of the next. This is homage to her bounty, her abundant produce, her tantalising array of grains and vegetables. This is a celebration of harvest.
I need to share this tradition of preparing Garur Dal (as this is called) with my lovely readers, I had promised myself earlier this year.
While I was researching this post, what struck me though was the sheer diversity of folklore behind this ritual.
Celebration of harvest, some said.
“বুরা গিয়া ভালা আ
অলক্ষ্মীকে তাড়াইয়া লক্ষ্মী আ”
Welcoming Lakshmi to the household, claimed others, prayers for prosperity and wealth. (Quite related to the harvest theory isn’t it ?)
Another school believed the feast is consecrated to the Ashwini Kumars, the physicians of the Gods. (Appeasing the Gods before the cold season set in ? Just my speculation 🙂)
Whatsoever the underlying faith is, the fact everyone is unanimous about is that the Garur Dal, cooked on the last evening of Ashwin and relished on the first morning of Kartik, tastes absolutely divine.
And as autumn is all set to take a bow and winter prepares to take center-stage, do try cooking Garur Dal (and yes, leave it outside to be kissed by the sublime autumnal dewdrops) and remember to make that wish !!