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Northeast India: Bohag Bihu, Assam 

The festival Bihu took its name from the Sanskrit word ‘Bishu,’ that meant people seeking prosperity from God during the harvesting season. It is also believed that the word Bihu is a combination of two words, ‘bi’ meaning ‘ask’ and ‘hu’ meaning ‘give.’ As per the Assamese calendar, the new year also marks its presence on the onset of the harvest season which is known as Rongali/Bohang Bihu. People rejoice this festival by getting into new traditional clothes. Where the women wear the traditional outfit known as mekhala and the men wear dhoti and gamcha. Like any other festival, food holds a significance in this festival too. It includes green leafy vegetables, coconut, jaggery, rice, sesame, milk and milk products. In few communities, brewing fresh rice beer and cooking meat is also a part of the tradition. 

 

East India: Pohela Baisakh, West Bengal

Interestingly, the Bengali New Year also known as the Nobo Borsho holds its connection to the Mughal Empire and its tax collecting customs. Earlier, there was a harvest calendar known as the Fasholi Shan. However, it was different from the Mughal calendar which was the Hijri calendar. Later both these lunar and solar calendars were combined together to create a new one. To celebrate this, the women wear special white sarees with red border along with their hair adorned with flowers. On the other hand, men wear dhuti with panjabi, a typical Bengali dhoti-kurta attire. The grand fiesta has a special menu which comprises of Panta Bhat i.e. watered rice along with fried Hilsa fish and many other variety of dishes. 

 

South India

Puthandu, Tamil Nadu

Puthandu is the Tamil New Year which is believed to have started when goddess Meenakshi tied the marital knot with Lord Sundereswar. As a festival ritual, a tray is been arranged in front of the mirror. This tray consists of mango, banana, jackfruit, betel leaves, gold and silver coins/cash and flowers. This is supposed to be seen as soon as one wakes up on this day. Not just this, but the Tamilians also decorate their doorstep with kolams to bring prosperity. There is a special dish made on this festival named as the Manga Pachadi, made up of raw mangoes, jaggery, salt, neem leaves/flowers and tamarind. These ingredients impart all the 4 tastes to the dish – sweet, salty, bitter and sour; just like life, which is a journey of ups and downs! 

 

Vishu, Kerala 

Like the Hindu celebrate Diwali with lights and firecrackers. In the same way, Keralites celebrate this festival by decorating with lights and enjoying the firecrackers. People wear new clothes and traditionally give money which is called Vishukkaineetam. A night before Vishu, in the pooja room, a ritual arrangement of auspicious things is created to signify prosperity. These consists of rice, betel leaves, fruits, vegetables, metal mirror, yellow flowers, holy text and coins. The feast for this day includes equal proportions of bitter, sour, salty and sweet dishes. Majorly together with dishes like Veppampoorasam, Mampazhappulissery, Vishu Kanji and Vishu Katta.

 


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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.