Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Karva chauth di sargi: Early morning vermicelli pudding

I love fasting on karva chauth despite it being a grueling day of controlling your hunger and thirst, and not because it’s the most fanciest custom that bollywood has to show in their movies nowadays. But fasting like this is when one gets to really appreciate the food we eat and the water we drink daily.

Mostly I feel more thirsty than hungry. But somehow it feels good to fast on the day. Its not just 'fast for your husband's long life' as is mostly portrayed, its also about celebrating your wedded life and marriage.

The day started for me at 3:30am, when I got up to eat my sargi and to drink all the water I could before sunrise. ‘Sargi’ is just the (punjabi) name given to the delicious vermicelli kheer (see recipe below) eaten in the morning.

According to traditional custom, a married woman takes the 'sargi', which is prepared specially for the ocassion by the mother-in-law, and leaves on the previous day to go to her mother’s house. In the wee hours of the morning she eats it with her mother and other aunts that have gathered there. The fast begins at twilight, and women fast from food and water.

When the day starts, the women folk spend decorating themselves with henna and getting dressed up in their wedding apparels, and pretty much look like brides. In today’s times they go shopping, they especially buy decorated bangles and sometimes spend the afternoon at the movies!
Around late afternoon, ranging between 3pm to 6pm (depends on the individual family custom), the daughter-in-law arrives with her mother and her aunts at her in-laws place. Here all the ladies, including that of the neighbourhood gather to perform the ‘poiya mansna’ ceremony. They get into a circle and rotate their pooja thalis whilst singing traditional songs.

Ive always heard the one that Ive shown below, “kudiye karwada....”. Here in Africa, we gather mostly at the local temple hall and do this ceremony. Then one of the elder lady tells us the ‘katha’, the story behind the fast. The hardcore ‘pindi’ punjabi (village accent) becomes a foreign language to me and I’m lost after a few lines into the story!

I just enjoy the whole ceremony of seeing so many women all dressed up. Its like seeing all your friends, aunts, and all women as brides all on the same day! We admire each other’s jewellery, mehndi and wedding gowns etc. :D

A lot of woman take their first sip of water after this ceremony, and have some form of liquid to relieve themselves. They have food only after the moon comes out. Some (really dedicated wives) wait with thirsty throats up until the time the moon comes out.

I had a big glass of water at 4:30 pm and then another glass of juice. From then the wait starts…for the moon to come out. In India, I have heard from my mum that the moon comes out around 8:00pm. Then all the women rush outside and offer obeisances to the moon and see the moon through a seive (I have no idea, why all this is done so). Thereafter they break their fasts.

And because some of us are in the southern hemisphere… we waited till 10:30pm and there was no sign of the moon… After another gruelling, half an hour…the moon was sighted at 11:00pm and we finally broke our fasts and had food. By then I wasn’t even hungry, but nevertheless ate to replenish the energy I had lost! My malayalee husband still doesn’t get why I need to do all this… I know I do it for the fun of it!

"Karva Chauth Day falls on the 4th day of the Kartik month every year. On this day it is customary for the wife to fast the whole day. She does not drink water either. She paints her hands and feet with henna, dresses generally in red apparel ...

On Karva Chauth day, which is observed in North India, tens of millions of women keep a fast, .... Only after seeing the moon do the women break their day-long fast in the evening/night. Normally women go out of their houses and on their roof tops to see if the moon is up yet.

Here is the song sung by punjabi women, while they exchange thalis seven times.

Veero Kudiye Karwada...., Sarv Suhagan Karwada...,
Aye Katti Naya Teri Naa, Kumbh Chrakhra Feri Naa,
Aar Pair payeen Naa, Ruthda maniyen Naa, Suthra Jagayeen Naa,
Ve Veero Kuriye Karwara,Ve Sarv Suhagan Karwara....... "

picture and text:http://www.karwachauth.com

Karva chauth ki sargi

What you need:

- 250 gm wheat vermicelli
- 50 gm ghee (can completely zero the ghee, if you want to make it fat free)
- 1 Lt full cream milk (can easily use 2% reduced or even skim milk to make it ‘lighter’)
- 200 gms sugar (again, this amount gives the kheer a mild sweetness, up or own the amount to suit your palate). Here sugar can also be substituted for brown sugar or jaggery for more flavour.
- A few pods whole elaichi
- Saffron strands
- Chopped nuts of your choice ( I did not put any in this version)

What you need to do:

1.) In a large pot roast the vermicelli in the ghee. The vermicelli can be dry roasted too (without any ghee for a low fat version). Stir frequently to allow equal roasting.

2.) Add the milk and elaichi pods and bring to the boil. When boiling, reduce gas to a simmer and cook for a further 10-12 minutes. The vermicelli will swell in size and soak up the milk.

3.) Switch off the gas and decorate with saffron and nuts. The kheer (pudding) can be had warm and or can be cooled down and refridgerated and served chilled.

We (mum and I) had it cold in the morning, drank lotsa water and went back to sleep!
This is going to Vee of Past Present and Me for the wonderful event JFI special series: The festive series...


musical said...

That's one cool post! sargi vela di kheer looks yummy :). Lovely dupatta and mehndi too :).

lakshmi said...

I shall ignore the vermicelli pudding and focus on the cashewnuts :D . This is a beautifully detailed entry.

vimmi said...

Hi Rachna,

Loved reading ur post. I am married to a Goan Maharashtrian and so do not keep karva chauth. Actually cant stay hungry. But I have seen my mom keep it. She also keeps the chota vrat 3 days before the Karva chauth. They also do the pooja and they add another line to the song.

Ley karvada vatayie, Karvanda choli payiye.]

U really brought back a lot of memories for me.


sunita said...

We do not observe this fast but am very familiar with it...needless to say, courtesy our Hindi movies :)...love those pictures.

Mocha said...

I liked this post a lot. I have be exposed to this ceremoney only thru Hindi movies and when Someone writes step by step it kinda feels more real

Asha said...

I have heard about this Karva chauth thru' Bollywood of course!:))
Looks good, love all the golden and red hues there and the bangles!!
I will fast if my hubby fasts for me or on second thought, I will let him fast for me!;D
Enjoy Rachna, fasting is good for the body and soul!!:)

sagari said...

nice photographs and yummy kheer

Priyanka said...

Rachna, thanks for an informative post. Your peanut laddoos are to die for- they r so tempting. Lovely pics. The kheer looks pretty delicious.

remya said...

lovely post n informative also..had heard aby karva chauth from bollywood movies...i love the way of seeing moon at last..really nice..eventhough i too hav wondered why? seeing like that....ur kheer is also looks delicious...thankz for sharing...

Shweta said...

Lovely post Rachna. And thanks so much for posting the lyrics of this song I just loved growing up! I am a punjabi married to a gujarati. I have been fasting on Karvachauth since last 4 years and till date I havent had a chance to celebrate the way its traditionally done in India with thalis et al. My husband has his own sweet ways to keep me happy on this day, but I sure do miss all the celebrations :)

Rajitha said...

rachna...this festival has become very well known and even glamourized thanks to bollywood..glad you had some company to do with you :)

Sig said...

oh soo cute! A looooooooong time ago, I used to watch movies and think it was so romantic :)... Love the pics, beautiful hands :)

Vcuisine said...

A lovely write up Rachna and pudding too. Viji

Mishmash ! said...

What a lovely post ! I was used to seeing the whole thing in movies, but on monday , i had to go to a friend's house, who is a punjabi and she explained lots of stuff and as u had written, she was looking like a bride :)

TBC said...

What an interesting post. They should make the guys do something similar too;-)... why should it just be the woman?!;-)

Sia said...

what a beautiful post rachna. i usually fast for ganesh sankashti. and its been ages since i did that.

bindiya said...

What a delightful and lovely way of putting it.Splendid!

Swaroopa said...

cool pics!!

Cynthia said...

I'll take the vermicelli pudding that Lakshmi is ignoring :)

Arun Shanbhag said...

What a beautiful writeup of devotion and sacrifice.
I am going to forward this to M :-P

Loved your decorated thali and the bangles and the henna! Awesome!
and what dedicated to hold off till you saw the moon.

Kudos to you and all the women who hold this fast!

Latha Narasimhan said...

I always wondered what this sargi was? nice info on karva chauth rachana!:) I just love this festival! all women dressed in their best fineries,! while in delhi I used to wait in the queue to have mehendi on my hands!:D

Roopa said...

Hi rachna first time on your blog, wonderful blog you have here and I love the pics :) The info you have given here is a good write up, i was enjoying reading the traditional way it is celebrated.

Bhawna said...

Hi Rachna, nice to know all about KC. I've been doing it from last 5 years but every year miss all the festivity and energy of this festival like in India. Nice write-up. lovely pics.