Akshaya Tritiya 2024: Lesser-Known Food Traditions In India
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The Hindu festival of Akshaya Tritiya or Akha Teej celebrated during the month of Vaishakh, celebrated with the hope of bringing good luck and prosperity. While making purchases of precious metals like gold and silver are key to the traditions of this day, less is spoken about the culinary rituals which are said to be adding to the festivities. Purchasing ghee, for those who cannot afford to buy gold, is said to be one of the most well-known traditions associated with inviting abundance into one’s lives.

Also a sacred ingredient that is pivotal to many rituals, lighting ghee lamps on this day is said to be of utmost advantage, since it is believed to ward off negativity and illness. Since wealth is meant to be celebrated and attracted on Akshaya Tritiya, purchasing lentils – which resemble tiny coins that is symbolic of money – is considered to be a way of representing it. The swelling of lentils when soaked and cooked in water is considered to be an expansion of the idea and an increase in prosperity.

Similarly, dark green vegetables like spinach are also believed to represent a prosperous home, hence when consumed, are meant to bestow health and wealth. Akshaya Tritiya, which marks the day in Hindu mythology when Lord Krishna blessed the Pandavas with the akshaya patra or bowl of unlimited food, also observes a bhog or naivedhyam ritual – where food offerings are made to Hindu deities. Consisting of an assortment of sweets like aamrakhand, kesar peda and puran poli, dudhi halwa and malpua, the prasad is then eaten off of copper thalis to pray for good health. Moreover, silverware purchases of plates, spoons and bowls is considered to invite good fortune.

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In the Khandesh region of north-western Maharashtra, relishing puran poli with aamras is a festive food tradition that is followed in many homes. Soaking rice and barley grains that have been purchased on Akshaya Tritiya is a practice that is followed in order to ‘soak up’ the negative energy from one’s life, filling it with positive vibrations. During days when the four social classes were prevalent, buttermilk and drinking water infused with betel nut was donated to the Brahmins as a way of attaining progress in educational endeavours. Annadan – or the selfless practice of donating food – is also said to take place in temples on Akha Teej.