‘Saraswathi’ (சரஸ்வதி) – Goddess of wisdom and knowledge, is worshiped on the ninth day of ‘Navarathri’ (நவராத்திரி). This day is celebrated as ‘Ayudha Pooja’ at work, where all the tools, account books and other implements are placed before the Goddess’s picture and pooja is performed. Machines and vehicles are cleaned, decorated with garland of flowers (பூமாலை), sandal paste (சந்தனம்) and kumkum (குங்குமம்). Usually work is stopped on this day and resumed on the tenth day, ‘Vijayadasamai’ (விஜயதசமி), which marks the culmination of ‘Navarathri’ festivities. This day is considered auspicious to start learning something new. Hence, children are admitted to music, dance or art classes on this day. Some parents start schooling for their wards on this auspicious day.
Traditionally, students (sishya - சிஷ்யன்), pay their respect to their teachers (guru - குரு) and offer ‘dhakshina’ (தக்ஷிணை) in the form of fruits, money and new cloths. ‘Aksharapyasam’ (அக்ஷரப்யாசம்) or the ceremony of starting education to a child is usually performed on ‘Vijayadasamai’ day. During this ceremony, the child, usually 5 years of age, sits on the father’s lap. Prayers are offered and the child is made to write ‘Om’ (ஓம்) and alphabets with the index finger on raw rice spread on a plate. Then the child is taken to the school for admission. In olden days, after ‘Aksharapyasam’ the child was carried on the shoulders of the maternal uncle (தாய் மாமன்), accompanied by parents and elders preceded by ‘nadaswaram’ (நாதஸ்வரம்) and ‘melam’ (மேளம்) in a procession to the school! Having reminisced over ‘Navarathri’ festivities so far, let us see how to make field bean sundal (மொச்சை கொட்டை சுண்டல்)!
Field Bean (மொச்சை கொட்டை) – ¾ tumbler or 150ml
Salt – to taste
Coconut – grated, 2 tablespoons
Oil – 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Split urad dhal – 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida – a generous pinch
Curry leaves – a few
For the masala powder:
Bengal gram dhal – 1½ teaspoon
Urad dhal – 1 teaspoon
Red chilli – 1 no
Method: Wash and soak field beans in sufficient water overnight or at least 6 hours. Later drain and pressure cook field beans with salt and ½ tumbler or 100ml of water for 5 minutes or 5 whistles. Once the pressure subsides, remove field beans from the cooker. Drain excess water and keep aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a kadai, add red chilli and when it turns darker, add Bengal gram dhal and urad dhal. Fry till the dhals turn golden brown in color. Switch off the fire. Once cool, powder the fried ingredients finely. Keep aside.
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