There are three National Festivals in India: Gandhi Jayanti,-celebrating the birth and significance of Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Indian nation and for India’s struggle for freedom; Independence Day-every August 15th where India celebrates freedom from British rule ((1947); and Republic Day of India, celebrated every 26th of January and regarded as the most important day in Indian history – it was in 1950 when India became a sovereign state and the constitution came into play. The last festival is one I want to highlight in this post, especially since it is around the corner!
Indians all over the country dedicate this day with much enthusiasm and plenty of patriotic pomp and circumstance. Although celebrated nationwide, New Delhi, India’s capital city, is where the most impressive parades begin (much like Macy’s Day parade in New York City). Each year, New Delhi becomes an epicenter for the annual festivities: India’s armed forces showcase their might, tribal communities from different states perform folk dances in artistic costumes, and jets from India’s Air Force decorate the sky with streams of smoke to end the day.
Like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or New Year’s eve with Dick Clark, people from all over the country make this trip year after year to celebrate with other festival goers, commemorate freedom, and have a Party! The Republic Day of India is a day when street vendors all over the country, similar to our state fairs, provide tasty treats with such things as crispy fried poppadums (wafer thin Indian bread), sweet pickles, and fried vegetables with spices and curry to tempt the palate. Also, for the kids (OK, the adults too!) – sticky sweets and puddings (much like the Bhajias in my last post), and fun things like balloons and games.
Learning about the festivals and party atmosphere of some of India’s special celebrations is something I have yet to experience in person, but preparing and eating several new Indian dishes this week certainly created a festive atmosphere in my home. “Party in my mouth” is how my daughter described the Chicken Tikka. “Tikka” literally means “bits and pieces.” The chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices, and the result is nothing less than an incredible explosion of flavor in your mouth. Our family ate it with an Indian bread called Parathas, a whole wheat flat bread, and Basmati rice with potatoes. So far this month, I think this meal was the family favorite.
As for the meal we had tonight, it was a vegetarian ensemble consisting of Basmati Rice and Lentils, Corn on the Cob in Rich Onion Sauce and Chapatis (I think I am becoming a pro at the bread thing —you know – I’ve got that “kneading” thing going on). What I find most peculiar is how full we are after we eat each Indian meal. I cannot figure it out. This meal was simple enough, but we were filled with abundance. Tonight, I am grateful for the Indians and their contributions to our home. Phir Milenge- see you later.