The Tamil New Year is a unique regional festival that co-exists peacefully with the new year of the Gregorian calendar. Comparable to Ugadi, Vishu & Baisakhi, all of which celebrate the start of a New Year, the Tamil New Year is an occasion marked by gratitude and hope.
For those of us who’ve grown up or worked away from home, the luxury of celebrating festivals with family is no longer available. The times spent walking down the crowded alleys surrounding the temple on a festival day, and storming the dining table with conversation while tucking into treats, are but memories that linger. One way of keeping alive these memories is through food. It is no surprise then that our siblings from other cities make frantic calls on Pongal and Tamil New Year, checking for last-minute details on traditional recipes, and cousins living abroad Skype and make meticulous notes of family secrets to cook up the prized meal.
Nothing helps connect as tangibly with the past as food does. We immediately associate familiar smells, sights, and sounds with moments from the past. In this way, food becomes an integral part of our imagination of ourselves, our families, and who we are culturally.
We hope you’re inspired to cook up a meal that carries a unique memory and association for you. As you read this, remember that story of Maanga Pachadi that no one else in the world but you and your sister will understand.