Sunday, October 2, 2011

Honoring Shakti

During this time of the year, the great Mother Goddess is celebrated in India. Navratas began on September 28. Tomorrow, October 3, is the beginning of Durga Puja.
“Navratri” means “Nine Nights” . The lore and legends associated with this holiday all go back to the Mother Goddess, Shakti.

The first three days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga (Warrior Goddess) dressed in red and mounted on a lion. Her various incarnations - Kumari, Parvati and Kali - are worshipped during these days. They represent the three different classes of womanhood that include the child, the young girl and the mature woman. The next three days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity), dressed in gold and mounted on an owl and finally ,the last three are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess Of Knowledge), dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan. (Source: festivals.iloveindia.com)

Adults and children alike dress in new clothes, wearing a different color on each night. Special sweets are prepared for the celebration. In some communities, people fast for the nine days. The celebration culminates on Mahanavani. Kanya Puja is performed on this day. (Puja – prayers) Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Shakti are worshipped.

The nine forms of Shakti are:

 Durga, the inaccessible one
 Bhadrakali
 Amba or Jagadamba, Mother of the universe
 Annapoorna devi, The one who bestows grains (anna) in plenty (purna: used as subjective)
 Sarvamangala, The one who gives joy (mangal) to all (sarva)
 Bhairavi
 Chandika or Chandi
 Lalita
 Bhavani
 Mookambika

(Source: en.wikipedia.org)

In honor of the specially prepared sweets, I offer you one of my own invention: Rani's Rice Pudding. ("Rani" is "Queen")

1 cup Basmati rice, washed
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2/3 – 1 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ cup slivered almonds or pistachios
½ cup dried pineapple chunks
1 mango, sliced, or 1 can of mango slices, drained

In a large pot, bring 2 cups of water and the rice to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until almost all the water is absorbed.

Add the milk, coconut milk, sugar, cardamom, nuts, and pineapple. Increase heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (about 25-30 minutes). There should still be some liquid left.

Cover with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly onto the surface of the pudding. This will help prevent a skin from forming. Chill. Top with sliced mangoes and serve. Garnish with extra almonds or pistachios, if desired.
Serves 6-8


meandmythinkingcap said...

Recipe looks wonderful. A picture would have been delightful.

Alyss said...

Good stuff... you always have interesting things to say about various gods and goddesses.

That pudding looks fantastic! Your recipe reminds me a lot of the kheer I had at an Indian restaurant last year that was so amazingly delicious. It's basically a little bit of rice cooked in a lot of milk with cardamom and simmered until the milk condenses into a thick, almost caramelly, pudding. So delicious, and so rich. I made some at home using coconut milk and it was wonderful. I love the addition of the dried fruit.


Zedral Z said...

I will have to try to post a picture the next time I make this. It's so hard to photograph white foods accurately, especially if you have light dishes.