My upbringing in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh made me incline towards the customs and traditions followed there and despite hailing from another community from a completely different part of the country I made this my home and enjoyed all the celebrated occasions and festivals.I will therefore educate my readers to a festival which is celebrated exclusively in Lucknow and will bring out the historical significance as well as introduce you all to a delicacy made exclusively for the occasion which is a mouthwatering treat and made in less than an hour.
So let us know about the history of this festival which is called Bada Mangal!”Bada” means big and “Mangal” means Tuesday in the Indian Calendar.So the God worshipped on Tuesdays is Lord Hanuman who is the Indian Monkey God who is said to still reside in person on Earth.He is one of the most powerful Gods who liberates people from their sins and protects them against evil doers,sinners and elements of black magic like ghosts and evil spirits!Bearing the face of a Monkey with a human form the Lord is simple yet cannot tolerate injustice on His worshippers.So this festival is dedicated to Lord Hanuman – the greatest worshipper of Lord Rama ( an Avatar of the great Lord Vishnu) and the prime being to help us gain courage and strength!
This festival is unique to Lucknow – the Capital of Uttar Pradesh and has been celebrated for around 400 years in the city.The story behind the festival will put racist and religion fanatics to shame as it is a representation of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims.Other sects and religions participate univocally thus getting the blessings of Lord Hanuman,blessings of elders and good wishes by youngsters and friends alike.It is celebrated on all Tuesdays of the Hindu Calendar of the month Jyeshtha which is approximately the starting of the middle of May to the middle of June in the Global Calendar.
STORY BEHIND THE FESTIVAL
The ruler of Lucknow from 1753 – 1775 was Nawab Shuja-ud-Daulah (Nawab was the title given to the ruler) who is notable for making Lucknow a city with many architectural wonders especially the Imambara and Bhul Bhulaiyya where the buildings were made of lentils,mortar and gum and which still stand strong.They have passed the test of time and have been bookmarked by Heritage India as one of the memorable places to visit.The Nawab’s second wife Begum Janab-e-Alia (Begum represents an honourable title for the wife in the Islam religion) once had a dream in which she was commanded by a divine entity to build a temple for Lord Hanuman.The entity described a particular place where an idol of the Lord was buried and which she needed to dig out.
The Begum obeyed her dream and started excavations on the site and as per her dream she found the idol of the Lord.She started to transport the idol back to Lucknow on an elephant as tuskers were the primary mode of transport for the Nawab.However the elephant stopped at a particular spot and refused to move further so it was planned to build the temple on that particular spot.
This temple as well as many temples which came up later celebrate this festival and it proves the fact that humanity is above any bifurcation on earth.
ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED FOR WORSHIPPERS OF THE LORD
Lord Hanuman is worshipped by men and married ladies as He is supposed to be a celibate and looks upon all ladies and mothers and sisters.All His worshippers walk all the way to the temple and the month of May in Uttar Pradesh means scorching heat and temperatures going above 45°C.But miraculously on Tuesday clouds come rolling,and the Sun is hidden.Sometimes a mild dust storm rages thereby lowering temperatures and making it easy for people to walk to the temple.
Corporates,shopkeepers and business merchants set up stalls on the roadside and organise a sumptuous feast for the worshippers or “Bhakts” as they are called.In fact everyone who stops by is given a filled plate irrespective of their religious faith and entity.The items include Kadhi – Chawal,Poori – subzi,Boondi laddus or sweet boondi or Prasad Boondi( favourites of the Lord).This is finished off with a glass of chilled juice or sherbet to beat the heat.The people come from all faiths and its very touching to see how humanity flourishes on Earth.
Prasad Boondi is one item which is loved by all and very easy to make!
Preparation Time – 45 minutes
Soaking Time : 2 hours
Makes : Approximately 500 gms of Boondi
1/4 cup Urad Dal (white lentils) – soaked for minimum 2 hours in 2 cups water
1 cup all purpose flour
Water as required
1 tsp baking powder
3 – 4 drops red colour (You can use yellow or Orange colours as well)
2 cups oil to fry the boondis
For the syrup :
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Prepare the syrup :
Mix the water and sugar in a saucepan and cook till the sugar dissolves.Reduce heat to low and cook till it attains the one thread consistency.Take off heat and add Cardamom Powder and mix well.Keep warm.
Drain the Dal and pulse in a chutney jar till it becomes a fine paste.You can add 1 – 2 tbsp water if there are problems in grinding.
Add flour in a bowl and mix in baking powder.Add enough water to make a thick and pouring batter.Mix the Dal paste into this and whisk with a balloon wish till both ingredients are well amalgamated.Add colour and mix again.
Fry the boondis :
Heat Oil in a pan till it is sufficiently hot.Take a perforated ladle and put 2 tbsp of the prepared mixture on it.Run a spoon over the mixture and it will fall in pearls into the hot oil.Fry till crisp.
Immersing them in syrup :
When all the boondis are fried,empty them into the warm syrup.Mix well and turn the boondis onto a large plate.Ensure the syrup coats each boondi.Leave for 10 minutes.Offer to Lord Hanuman and partake in the Prasad!