Since last night, Hindus are celebrating Mahashivratri festival.
Maha Shivratri, the night of the worship of Lord Shiva, occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. It falls on a moonless February night, when Hindus offer special prayer to the lord of destruction. Shivratri (Sanskrit ‘ratri’ means night) is the night when he is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. The festival is observed for one day and one night only.(Source)
It always used to be a pleasure to watch kids and their parents heading towards the Shiv Temple on the eve before Shivratri, to line up for the Darshan. People of all the ages, from nooks and corners of the neighboring areas, chanting mantras, singing bhajans and distributing prasad, stay awake whole night in the vicinity of Shiv temple.
As a child I have distinct memories of watching a storm of people visiting the Shiv Temple of Ambarnath (Ambernath) , one of the oldest city in Thane District (Mumbai).
Picture source (Sindhunagar.com)
The name Ambarnath literally means Lord of the sky. Ambarnath is the site of a very old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, dating back, to 10th century. It is a beautiful temple carved out of stone in Hemad style construction.(source:wiki)
In the morning after, our day used to begin by offering a mixture of milk, water, beal patra, ber (bor) to the Lord Shiva. Standing in queue to reach inside the temple, while listening Bhajans of Shiva and chants of “Om Namah Shivay” , watching small kids throwing tantrums to get the various toys being sold in the ‘Mela’ or Fair around.
Toys like spinning paper wind-wheels, flutes, amusing whistles, puppets, dugdugis (a rattling drum),different kind of rattles ,striking snakes, gliding snakes, small toys made from bamboo sticks, the tiny puppets attached to bamboo sticks,that would roll, jump perform acrobats, move hands and feet etc.
The cart drums ( Known as Gadi Bhajo), when dragged would make a drumming noise and kids used to enjoy this one the most, and not to forget those Joker caps with frills of paper….Ahh the kids delights in simple pleasures !
Another highlight of the festival used to be the various kinds of Prasad distributed on this day. The Thaadal or thandai being most popular, people used to flock over the stalls of Milkrose, boiled legumes, Dal bread, Biryani etc.
So today on the occasion of Mahashivratri, let me share with you the recipe of Thaadal or Thandai, a very refreshing drink made from milk, poppyseeds flavored with the strong aromatic black pepper, green cardamom , rose petals etc.
- Cantaloupe or water melon seeds (Tarboozey /kharboozey ke beej) 5 gms
- Green cardamom 2½ gms
- Black pepper corns 1½ gms
- Almonds 25 gms
- Khuskhus or Poppy seeds 12-13 gms
- Dried red rose petals 3-5
- Fennel seeds 1 tsp
- Milk Approximately 600 ml
- Sugar 350 -500 gms (As per taste)
- Water to adjust the consistency and to strain the paste
- Saffron and Unsalted pistachio to garnish (optional)
- Soak Almonds, poppy seeds and melon seeds in some water or milk for 4-5 hours
- Peel the skin of almonds, and grind (liquify) almonds, soaked poppy seeds and melon seeds, along with blackpepper corns, choti elaichi, fennel seeds and rose petals in a Mixer grinder (Traditionally done using Stone mortar pestle), adding some milk or water as required, till a smooth paste is obtained.
- Now take a large bowl or container and strain the paste through a fine muslin cloth, straining the mixture with the help of some milk or water.
- Strain it multiple times, each time adding some more milk or water, till a dry husk is left behind. Discard the husk.
- Now add to this strained mixture, sugar, milk and water (check the flavors, if too strong, dilute with more milk and water) and mix well till sugar dissolves completely.
- Serve Chilled...really chilled !