Festivals And Foods
International Kite Festival (Uttarayan)
Every year, Gujarat celebrates more than 2,000 festivals. The International Kite Festival (Uttarayan) is regarded as one of the biggest festivals celebrated. Months before the festival, homes in Gujarat begin to manufacture kites for the festival.
The festival of Uttarayan marks the day when winter begins to turn into summer, according to the Hindu calendar. It is the sign for farmers that the sun is back and that harvest season is approaching which is called Makar Sankranti. This day is considered to be one of the most important harvest day in India. Many cities in Gujarat organize kite competition between their citizens where the people all compete with each other. In this region of Gujarat and many other states, Uttarayan is such a huge celebration that it has become apublic holiday in India for two days. During the festival, local food such as Undhiyu (a mixed vegetable including yam and beans), sesame seed brittle and Jalebi is served to the crowds. Days before the festival, the market is filled with participants buying their supplies. In 2012, the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat mentioned that the International Kite Festival in Gujarat was attempting to enter the Guinness World Records book due to the participation of 42 countries in it that year.
Gujarat celebrates Holi with colors of love, colors of life. Festival of colors, Holi is celebrated with great fanfare in the Gujarat state of India. Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna. It is a major Hindu festival and marks the agricultural season of the Rabi crop.
There are many stories associated with the origin of Holi. For some Holi marks the day when devotees of lord Vishnu, Bhakt Prahlad who was seated on the lap of demoness Holika was saved from the effect of the fire by God and instead the demoness got burnt. For others the festivals relate to the death of demon Putana at the hands of lord Krishna while some associate the festival with the worship of Karma, God of pleasure and destiny.
Staples include homemade Khichdi (rice and lentil or rice and mung bean), and chaas (buttermilk) and pickles as side. Main dishes are based on steamed cooked vegetables with different spices and dals that are added to a vaghar, which is a mixture of spices sterilized in hot oil that varies depending on the main ingredient. Salt, sugar, lemon, lime, andtomato are used frequently to prevent dehydration in an area where temperatures reach 50°C (122°F) in the shade. It is common to add a little sugar or jaggery to some of thesabzi/shaak and dal. The sweet flavor of these dishes is believed to neutralize the slightly bland taste of the vegetables.
The cuisine changes with the seasonal availability of vegetables. In summer, when mangoes are ripe and widely available in market, for example, Keri no Ras (fresh mango pulp) is often an integral part of the meal. The spices used also change depending on the season. Garam Masala and its constituent spices are used less in summer. Regular fasting, with diets limited to milk, dried fruits, and nuts, are commonplace.
In modern times, some Gujaratis have become increasingly fond of very spicy and fried dishes. There are many chefs who have come up with fusions of Western and Gujarati food. Gujaratis are predominantly vegetarians even though pockets of the state consume chicken, beef and fish.
Bajra Roti is a plain flat bread made from flour having nutritional value similar to other foods based on flours. Common meals in villages near Saurashtra during the cold winters consists of thick Rotis, termed Bhakri, made of wheat flour, garlic chutney, onion, and chaas.
Sweets (desserts) made from such ingredients as local sugarcane, jaggery,milk,almonds, and pistachios were originally served at weddings and family occasions as an energy booster for relatives traveling long distances to attend. These days, sweets served as part of a thali are more typically made from milk, sugar, and nuts. "Dry" sweets such as Magas and Ghooghra are typically made around celebrations, such as weddings, or at Diwali
Gujarati cuisine is also distinctive in its wide variety of farsan — side dishes that complement the main meal and are served alongside it. Some farsan are eaten as snacks or light meals by themselves.