By P Charitha
The three-day affair, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fun in South India. Traditionally a harvest festival for the farmers, this festival marks the transition of the Sun into the astrological sign Capricorn or Makara. However, this holy festival also symbolizes the arrival of spring and the end of the winter and start of long days.
This festival also marks the beginning of a six-month auspicious period of Hindus known as Uttarayana
The first day of the festival is Bhogi. As per the traditions, Bhogi Manta’ or a bonfire is lit at dawn and people discard old clothes and furniture to mark a new beginning. Following this, family members and little children are showered with 'Regi Pandu' berry fruit to ward off the evil eye.
Sankranti which is the main festival is on the second day, when people go to temples, perform puja and make various traditional eateries.
The third day of the festival is 'Kanuma'. On this day, the people of both Telugu states i.e., Telangana and Andhra Pradesh worship livestock and then feast on delicacies like chakinalu, ariselu and appalu.
Talking about the traditional Sankranti sweets which includes the typical Chakkara pongali ( sweetened rice ) , Ariselu, Appalu, Bobbatlu, Bellam Gavvalu, Kajjikayalu, Nuvvula Undalu and the Telangana Sakkinalu.
Another sweet, which though not made at home, is the famous Putharekulu or Pootharekulu.
Putharekulu is a sweet made with a thin film of rice sheet, where sugar powder or jaggery powder is spread, finally laced, and sealed with homemade ghee into rectangular pieces of sheer delight.
This famous sweet which is specifically made in Athreyapuram mandal in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh melts in your mouth once you take a bite.
In fact, any kind of festivity is incomplete without the Athreyam Putharekulu, apart from the Kakinada Kajalu and Tapeswaram Madatha Kaaja in the Godavari districts.
Putharekulu has brought in global recognition for Atreyapuram villagers where more than 300 families are involved in the making of this delicate sweet like a cottage industry.
Rolling of putharekulu is a delicate and backbreaking art, where the main labour involves making the rice paper sheets. Made by the women usually, the rice paper is made over hot earthen pots where a layer of rice liquid is poured and removed immediately once it's set.
Though the name Putharekulu has made it to Wikipedia, it is yet to get the Geographical Indication (GI) tag despite many requests.
Over time sugar replaced jaggery as a major ingredient of Putharekulu. The other addition is using dry fruits, which makes it even more rich and tasty.But for the connoisseurs, it's usually sugar or jaggery with pure ghee.
Nowadays when one passes by the Athreyapuram village, a large number of road-side stalls have opened up for customers to pick up the sweets on the way.
To make it more interesting the women get the pre-made rice paper and roll out the Putharekulu in front of you. You can choose whether you want sugar or jaggery, with or without dry fruits and watch as the women make it in front of you.
Check out the video here:
This apart they sell the Mamidi (mango) thandra and other sweets made of jaggery and puffed rice.
The next time you make a road trip to the Godavari region be sure to pick up the delicate putharekulu.The women have become quite enterprising and will also send you the sweets in bulk quantities through the bus and courier services.
Sankranti 2021 Dates:
Bhogi - January 13
Sankranti – January 14
Kanuma – January 15
Mukkanuma – January 16