Its Janamashtami again..one of the two days in the year when I fast for a day. For the many years that I have been away from home, I have missed the special prasad that was made today by my grandma, ma and papa. I missed the prasad each year and even though ma kept some away in the freezer for me to eat when I came at Christmas it was never quite the same.
Living a life in transit in a foreign country meant I put it behind me and carried on like it mattered not. Well to be honest, it did not matter all that much. But as I get older I am keen to get the hang of all things traditional that I have seen as a child. I remember dad getting the ingredients for the prasad. All 3 of them sitting and gardually sifting, grating, chopping, dicing, splicing and preparing big massive thaalis of components. Watched them roast some, toast some and cool them, the aroma of coconut, khas, sugar syrup wafting through the house. Ma would also make some fruit chat and other dry roasted nuts and seeds to be eaten all day by all those who fasted. Ma would finish making them and then each year the test was to see if the pattis (sugar syrup based stuff) had set perfectly. Each year my grandma made perfect ones, dad and mom just about managed to pass the test. 8 different kind of pattis and so the test was a long tedious one. Ma would pass sometimes and scrape by sometimes with semi-solid concoctions. Each year the worry about passing was present in varying degrees! After grandma passed away the varieties decreased in number. With the onset of diabetes the sweets got cut back further. With 2 of 3 children leaving home this decreased further to only one kind of prasad being made...and today in India, my mother has made 2.
After so many years of being away I have finally decided to check out my memory and ability to make complex things. I have indeed managed to locate all ingredients in the British market and have brought them home with great delight. I have been slaving over the stove for the past 3 hours and spent about 2 hours preparing things..so. Miles away from home, the memory, the enjoyment, the tradition lives on in my own head. The deed is done..the family recipe is intact, how well or poorly made it is shall be seen tomorrow. As of now, I sleep with a smile, knowing I have retained some traditions which I enjoyed as a child, and now, value as an adult. Here's to my granny who insisted on tradition and to my mom and dad for being good bahu and beta and passing it on!!