Hope everyone celebrated Thai Poosam in the traditional manner. Worshipping Lord Muruga is said to be good for the welfare of the children.We celebrated Thai Poosaam by offering Panakam and Sweet Payar to Lord Muruga. (Recipes are sure to follow).
Sometime back I had raised a question about the significance of offering coconut as neyvedyam at the bathing ghat. After musing over it for a long time, I think I have an acceptable answer. It may perhaps be due to the fact that since Lord Muruga or Saravana was born in Saravana Poikai or the Lake of Saravana, people offer neyvedyam at the bathing ghat. And also the practice of carrying the coconut in a uri (uri is a pot hanger in which pots of curds, milk etc. were stored) to the bathing ghat could signify the kavadis that devotees carry on their shoulders to the Muruga temples. Carrying the kavadis to the temples and depositing them there signifies carrying all your burdens and unburdening them at the feet of the Lord.
Essentially, Sweet Payar is a dish prepared during the "cradle ceremony" of a new born baby. That would be the first time that people outside the family circle see the new born baby for the first time. When Karthikeya killed the demon Taraka, He was but a very young boy.
Panakam is a great thirst quencher. Since Thai Poosam falls at the beginning of the summer season, Panakam is the right choice for neyvedyam. During the Vela/Pooram festivals (temple festivals in Kerala), which take place starting from the month of February, there is a custom known as Parayeduppu. People offer grain (usually paddy) in a Para (a measure of roughly 10kg) to the deity who is either taken around the village atop a caparisoned elephant or is represented by a Velichapadu (oracle). There are people who offer panaka para, i.e., a great quantity of panakam is prepared and distributed to all people who come to witness the festival. It is believed that when the thirst of so many people is quenched, they in turn bless the person who offered them the sweet panakam on a hot afternoon.
Panakam has jaggery, which is an instant energy booster, and dry ginger, which will alleviate any gastric problems due to the heat and untimely eating during such festivals.
We will have the recipe for panakam today.
Though in Kerala, panakam had only jaggery, chukku (dry ginger) and cardamom powder, in Karnataka they add some lemon juice also to the panakam, which gives it a special tang.
Dry ginger powder: 2 tsp.
Fresh ginger : 2" piece
cardomom powder: ½ tsp.
Juice of 1 lemon.
Melt the jaggery in ½ cup of water. Strain to remove sand particles. Boil it until the raw smell disappears. Cool. Add 4 cups of water, lemon juice, ginger powder and cardamom powder and mix well. If using fresh ginger, cut the ginger into small pieces and blend it in the blender with little water to extract the juice. Strain and add to the panakam.
Cool and serve.