Spring is the queen of the seasons – a time of joy, sunshine, creativity and love. During the season we see Mother Earth in full bloom and colorful splendor. But with all the positive vibes of spring, many of us are prone to various allergies due to the tiny grains of pollen from the flowers flying in the air, coughs and colds, and chickenpox and smallpox. But all of these health problems can be prevented and cured in a number of natural ways – by following age-old remedies that have been passed down through generations in Indian families. And trust us, these are still useful and quite scientific. According to food historian Pritha Sen, all of the traditional healing and preventive measures we follow have scientific reasons. “These become rituals so that they can be institutionalized. Unless these become rituals, people will not be forced to follow them. That is why we should always focus on seasonal food and seasonal prevention and healing methods for each season of the year to keep various health problems at bay. ”
Let’s look at some of the traditional practices we’ve followed over the years during the spring season, and the scientific reasons behind them.
Why should we avoid eating puja Kul or the Indian jujube before Saraswati?
In the Bengali tradition, a popular myth or superstition associated with consuming Kul or the Indian jujube before Saraswati Puja is that students will not do well on the upcoming final exams. Parents and grandparents often stopped children at home to enjoy the sweet and spicy fruits before the puja. However, the real reason for this concept is the fact that children who consume the immature Kul may cause a sore throat or a cough and cold, which may prevent them from showing up for the exam. Since there is persistent chill in the air around Saraswati Puja time, it is considered the right time to have the Indian jujube a few days after the puja.
Pritha shared an anecdote: “I was in Goa this January and saw piles of Topa Kul (ripe red Indian jujube) being sold. I bought a lot of it at home and made it delicious, but some people I know here said, “Why do you have the fruit before Saraswati Puja? It’s not good for the health. But I laughed at myself and said that in Goa it is a local fruit and this is the time of year for it. I can’t miss out on enjoying this delicious seasonal fruit. ”
Just one day after Saraswati Puja you eat a Sheddho
Gota Sheddho, or whole cooked and consumed vegetables, is a ritual that is followed in many Ghoti households in Bengal. Chef Debjani Chatterjee Alam explains the concept as follows: “The next day after Saraswati, puja is observed as sitalsasthi. On this day, the ghotis have a sheddho, which is nothing more than a mug of Kalai Dal, a variety of seasonal vegetables and potatoes that are cooked without being cut or sliced. No extra masala is added during cooking, and it is drunk with a dash of finely chopped green chili peppers, mustard oil and salt. It tastes delicious and since this is a chickenpox and smallpox season it works as a preventative measure. This ritual is observed in my home every year. “Besides that, just before spring, people in Punjab have shakkar gura – a mixture of sugar with gur or jaggery that keeps the body warm and prevents colds. “In Bengal, too, we eat Pithe Puli in winter and the intake of Gur is also increasing. This will help our bodies stay warm and boost immunity. In many Muslim households, the spicy chicken or mutton nihari is cooked in winter to keep our bodies warm, ”adds Debjani.