Sawan 2023: The Monsoon Month Of Festivals And Foodie Treats

Sawan, or Shravan is the month of monsoon, of rain showers bearing down on cities, towns and fields that replenish water sources and nourish natural elements. Shravan is also the month of festivals, rituals and pujas that celebrate this bounty of nature. In days of lore, during Shravan, as the rains showered upon crops and seas, the labours of fisherfolk and farmers were considerably reduced. This was the time for them to worship the abundance of nature, to pray to the vast salt waters where lay a good catch, to the oxen who ploughed their fields and to the coconut trees along the coastlines whose branches and fruit were used in multiple ways.

So, it is said that many festivals that fall in Shravan are closely linked to nourishing and caring natural resources that provide livelihood and sustenance. This is also the month to pray to the goddess Parvati, who epitomises nourishment, resilience and longevity of a conjugal couple. Several small rituals and festivals are observed during Shravan and these would all be incomplete without delicious sweet and savoury dishes that are placed as offerings before this natural wealth. Read on to know more about some of the festivals celebrated in Shravan and what foods are to be relished on these occasions:

Hariyali Teej - Ghewar, Thekua

This festival observed primarily by women marks the arrival of monsoon and is about offering prayers to Goddess Parvati. Teej is celebrated across several northern and western regions of the country and involves an all-day water fast that is broken by eating sweet treats. Teej mithai includes ghewar, kheer and thekua, foods made from generous quantities of ghee, wheat flour and spices.

Mangalagauri - Bhajani Vada

Every Tuesday in Shravan, newly married women come together to pray to the Goddess Mangalagauri, or Parvati. Groups of women play fun games and activities to bond with one another and form lasting friendships. Managalagauri is about praying for abundance of food, prosperity and the happiness of the newly married couple. Women come together on this day and savour the bhajani vade or millet and legume pakoras which are a crispy delight during monsoons, and are fast-friendly too!

Narali Pournima - Narali Bhaat

Narali pournima falls on the full-moon day in Shravan and is popularly celebrated along the coastal areas as a prayer to the coconut trees lining the beaches. The day is marked by making narali bhaat (sweet coconut rice) or naral barfi, which are delicacies featuring coconut as the core ingredient. Since fresh produce is sparsely available during monsoon months, all the delicacies are made from ingredients with longer shelf lives such as ghee, sugar, semolina. Freshly grated coconut is available all year round and is used generously to make laddoos and gujiya.

Raksha Bandhan - Sandesh, Mawa Gujiya

A family affair which has garnered several social and cultural connotations over time, Raksha Bandhan is undoubtedly a very popular festival celebrated across India. All kinds of sweet treats are prepared on this day that marks the bond between brother and sister and involves gorging on kheer, shrikhand-puri, sandesh, mawa gujiya and many other delicacies.

Nagpanchami - Patoli, Kheer

Celebrated across several regions in India, this festival is mainly observed to pay obeisance to the Nag Devta or the serpent deity. It is believed that rice and milk dishes are liked by the cobra or the serpent god. Nagpanchami involves making suji kheer, ellu unde or sesame ladoos, thambittu unde or rice ladoos and patoli, steamed rice rolls stuffed with coconut and jaggery. 

Pola - Puran Poli

This festival primarily celebrated in Chattisgarh and Maharashtra is a thanksgiving day that prays to oxen and bulls who would plough agricultural fields. Now, the pola is marked by decorating the bulls with colour, bells and flowers and praying for the good health of all cattle. Many times, warm puran polis are made to celebrate bail (ox) pola and are relished with generous helpings of ghee and katachi amti. 

Shravan Somwar - Singhada Pakoda, Sabudana Kheer

This is a vrat or fast observed for 16 consecutive days and involves praying to Lord Shiva. Each day of the Shravan month is considered auspicious but Mondays are particularly significant for those who worship the blue-necked deity. Shravan Somwar is meant to be observed as a strict water fast for an abstinence from craving. But there are some delicious fast-friendly recipes that can be enjoyed on this day for those who observe abstinence from non-vegetarian and specific vegetarian foods. On vrat days, relish the goodness of sabudana or tapioca kheer and khichdi, vrat ki kachodi and singhada pakoda, albeit in measured proportions!