BENGALURU: For Dr Mythri Shankar, Sankranti is more than just traditional rituals. The nuclear medicine specialist has been creating awareness on osteoporosis and bone health for the last few years and believes this festival holds the key to good health. “Sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium, sunlight is key to improve Vitamin D levels, and the new harvest of vegetables is good for overall health,” says Shankar. The new crop heralds new celebrations, especially after a tough 2020 with a raging pandemic holding us captive. Now, Bengalureans across communities are looking forward to celebrating the new crop.
Come Friday and Shankar will host a small garden party for family and friends, which will comprise an organic meal complete with sugarcane juice, and both sweet and khara pongal with servings of avarekai. Instead of sakkare acchu (sugar moulds), she has ordered jaggery cups in which ellu-bella will be distributed. Veggies harvested in her garden, including turmeric, a fruit basket, and ellu-bella mixture
will be distributed to guests. “In the evening, we’ll probably host a camp fire for the family,” she says. Like Shankar, actor Priyanka Upendra’s festive plans also include catching up with family at a lunch hosted by husband and actor Upendra’s family. “Uppi has been travelling, so this is the time we’re all meeting. With all of us being busy, it’s going to be a rather quiet one,” she says.
Giving tradition a twist is food consultant and recipe developer Gauravi Vinay, who is creating a nut butter comprising the ellu-bella ingredients. Last year, after moving back from Melbourne, Gauravi was looking to create a meaningful experience as well as something that incorporates modern-day methods. “Nut butters are hugely popular grab-and-go snack, which made me contemplate this creation. When I shared this with my sister, she felt that Bengaluru too would be open to such a concept,” says Gauravi, who makes this bottled butter once a year. “I wait until New Year to ensure I use a new crop of all the ingredients – after all that’s the significance of this festival,” she adds. The nut butter is priced at `230 a jar for 125g and is available through her Instagram handle @gauravi _vinay.
In Malleswaram, which is the city’s traditional hub, homemaker Mangala Narasimhan is working on preparing a sweet pumpkin-avarekai palya, along with different types of pongal. The morning will see her heading to a temple in Sadashivnagar where she will distribute ellu-bella to 25 friends. “These are traditions that have been passed on over generations, and I’m just trying to keep them alive,” she says.
Grand plans are usually in the offing for the Punjabi Sabha in Bengaluru but Janak Raj Madaan, president of the association, wanted to stay on the side of caution in the light of the pandemic. “We hope we can do something for Baisakhi,” he says.
Meanwhile, Lalit Sanghvi, who runs the event management company Limelite is hosting a celebration at Puran Da Dhaba on Richmond Road, where not more than 50 people will partake a meal comprising makki di roti and sarson ka saag. “To keep the festive spirit alive, we are recreating a village setting where a fire will be lit and a ghazal singer will perform,” says Sanghvi, adding that though the crowd will be small, the idea is to be in the festive spirit this season.