Yugadi (Ugadi)
Friday the 27th March 2009
By Mohan Shenoy
  The New Year of Virodhi Samvatsara
begins on the 27th of March 2009. Friday
the 27th March 2009 is the Hindu New
Year. This Virodhi Samvatsara lasts from
the 27th March 2009 to 15th March 2010.
         
Learn more about Hindu Calendar.
         
 This New Year Day every year is known
as the festival of Yugadi.
        
 Yugadi is also known as Samvatsara
Padvo and Gudi Padvo. It is the first day of
a year by lunar calendar and celebrated as
a festival in most parts of India. Among
Gowda Saraswath Brahmin (GSB) families
the day is known as Samsarpadvo
(Samvatsara Padvo).

 It is known as Gudi Padvo in Maharashtra
state and Yugadi in Karnataka, Kerala,
Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu The
common New Year day in the common
calendar all over the world is January 1 of
each year. Hindu festivals are not based on
the common calendar and the festival of
Yugadi does not correspond with the New
Year day. Lunar calendar, on which the
Hindu festivals are based, does not tally
with the common calendar. Therefore the
practical value of Yugadi festival being
celebrated as the first day of the lunar
calendar remains only in observing this day
as a festival. However, out of tradition
Hindus prepare special dishes on this day
and some of us visit temples to hear the
priests narrate the predictions for the
coming year. The predictions are based on
the configuration and positions of the
heavenly stars and planets during the year,
the Panchaanga book for which is read and
released on this day. It is also the day for
some families to bring in the new harvest
and cook rice from the newly harvested
paddy. This tradition has been prevalent for
over a few millennia or more in India.

 Among Hindus in India, rice has been an
important part of their meals, especially in
the southern part of India. Rice is also used
in many different ceremonies as an
accompaniment to an offering and it is
required for sprinkling on the heads of
those who attend the function; rice
sprinkled on the heads is called Akshatha.

 Since about the year 1950 there have
been many discoveries in the field of
cultivation of rice. Varieties of rice have
been named that yield a better crop. For
cultivation of rice, water is required in large
quantities.

 Rice plants are like grass with about 5
large elongated narrow oval leaves that
have stems, which produce flowers. The
flowers turn into paddy, after pollination.
The plants produce one crop, then dry up
and die. Bunches of plants with the seeds
are thrashed on net-stands to separate the
seeds from the plants. The dried plants are
excellent fodder for the cattle. This fodder
is stored in the form of silos for use
throughout the rest of the year. The seeds
have an outer husk and an inner hull. The
hull is thin and brown and has nutrients in it
like vitamin B1. When the rice is milled this
inner cover is lost and the rice turns white.
On the other hand if the paddy is first
soaked in boiling water in a pot for a while
and then the outer husk is removed by
milling, a portion of the inner cover remains
attached to the rice.  The boiled rice takes
longer to cook but it is more nutritious than
the white rice.

 On Yugadi festival day, two dishes are
traditionally cooked; one is Cheppe Kheer
(made of newly harvested rice grains) and
the other is Madganay (made of Bengal
gram and jaggery). The ingredients for
Cheppe Kheer are rice, coconut shreds,
and haldi (turmeric) leaves.

 The coconuts are an important part of the
diet of the Gowda Saraswath Brahmins
(GSBs). The GSBs also use coconut oil for
cooking. In the western countries the GSBs
have a high incidence of heart attack
because of coronary artery disease. The
GSBs back in India throughout history,
were eating quite a lot of coconuts and
using quite an amount of coconut oil. Some
one said that there is a relation between
the coconuts and the cholesterol, the C-C
relation. They suggested that the use of
coconuts and coconut oils should be
stopped to reduce the incidence of heart
attack among the GSBs in America.
However, the research done by Indian
scientists at the University of Kerala has
revealed why the GSBs in India do not
have a higher incidence of heart attack
than the average population. The
scientists, Padmakumaran, Rajamohan and
Kurup have discovered that the coconut
kernel contains a good protein that reduces
formation of fat in the liver and in the
intestines. If the coconut kernel is not
consumed and only the coconut oil is
consumed then there is an adverse effect.
There will be increase in cholesterol level in
blood. But if the coconut kernel is also
consumed then there is a significant
decrease in the total cholesterol level,
increase in the HDL and decrease in LDL;
there is also decrease in the level of
Triglycerides according to the Kerala
scientists. Coconut kernel causes increase
in the cholesterol degradation in the liver to
produce bile acids. Esterification of
cholesterol is decreased also. Coconut
kernel fed to rats reduced the serum levels
of cholesterol, phospholipids and
triglycerides.
High levels of cholesterol, phospholipids
and triglycerides are not desirable in
humans because it leads to atherosclerosis
and later to heart disease and stroke. The
coconut kernel is rich in fibres and provides
an ideal dietary constituent for man and
therefore GSBs who consume plenty of
coconut kernels are benefited. Those
GSBs who live in the coastal regions of
south India use a lot of coconut in their
cooking.
Yugadi (Ugadi)
By Mohan Shenoy
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ACoconut provides good health to these
people with its properties of reducing the
cholesterol level in blood and acting as
roughage in the intestines. The
coconut-cholesterol (C-C) relation is good
for all people if they consume limited
quantity of coconut oil and plenty of
coconut kernel.

Cholesterol is formed in the liver from
fats absorbed from intestines. There is
need for bile acids to be formed from
cholesterol to send them back to the
intestines to facilitate digestion of food
substances. This is done by the liver,
which by degrading cholesterol converts
them into bile acids. Cholesterol esters
are also formed in the liver and travel to
various parts of the body.

Nowadays, the cholesterol level in the
serum is estimated by a chemical
reaction. Blood is collected from a vein in
the forearm. Serum is obtained after
allowing the blood to clot and separating
the clot to obtain what is left, i.e. serum.
This serum is subjected to enzyme
reaction and development of a colour.
The intensity of the colour is measured. If
the cholesterol level is high then the
colour is dark; if low, light. This is the
total cholesterol estimation. After total
cholesterol, we have to give attention to
the two kinds of cholesterol viz. the High
Density cholesterol (heavy cholesterol,
HDL) and Low Density cholesterol (light
cholesterol, LDL). The HDL does not
rush itself to form plaques in the arteries
while the LDL does. The plaque
formation is easy with LDL. More the
LDL, the quicker the plaque formation.
Plaques harden the arteries and thickens
the wall of the arteries leading to a block
in the blood-flow. If the coronary arteries
of the heart get blocked the patient may
die. Therefore it is better to have enough
HDL and low levels of LDL.

The benefits of coconut kernel are
always there whether coconut oil is
consumed at the same time or not. But if
the oil is consumed then it is likely that it
might increase the level of cholesterol
unless coconut kernel is also consumed
along with the oil. There is plenty of oil in
the coconut kernel. Regular consumption
of Coconut kernel keeps the cholesterol
level down in all people including those
people who otherwise have raised levels
of cholesterol.
The rise in cholesterol in the blood could
be due to intake of either coconut oil or
any other fatty diet. In all cases the
coconut kernel reduces the cholesterol
levels to normal. Coconut kernel is best
used as a masala ingredient. When we
use any masala powder to make any
side-dish, then we add the powder
directly to the dish either in the beginning
or at the end of the cooking. But if we
grind the masala powder with twice or
thrice the quantity of coconut kernel, then
the mixture gives a thickness and
consistency to the dish that is
indescribable. Add this mixture to the dish
instead of the masala alone. There is no
need to add wheat flour or corn flour to
give body to the dish if coconut is used.
This is one of the ways to use coconut
kernel in our cooking.

Coconut milk obtained by grinding the
coconut shreds and then straining it
through a cloth contains fibres but the
milk is rich enough in kernel protein.

Cheppe Kheer is prepared by boiling rice
in water and adding coconut milk to it and
boiling again. Coconut milk is prepared
by grinding coconut shreds in a mixie and
squeezing out the milk from the product,
through a thin cloth. A couple of whole
turmeric leaves are added while boiling
the mixture to give a pleasant smell.
Turmeric leaves have a pleasant smell
and flavour. The turmeric leaves are first
washed and cleaned and then rolled up
before adding to the boiling mixture and
cooked for another two minutes. The
leaves are left in the kheer until served.
This dish is tasty and delicious even
though no sugar or salt is added to it.
The lip-smacking nature of this dish is
due to the flavours of coconut and the
turmeric leaves.

The ingredients for Madganay are
Bengal gram daal, jaggery, cashew
kernels, fresh and raw, coconut milk,
cardamom powder, turmeric powder, rice
and ghee. Madganay is prepared by first
boiling the Bengal gram daal (splits) in a
sufficient quantity of water until soft (30
mts.). Prepare coconut milk as described
above. Add jaggery (quantity equal to
Bengal Gram daal) to the cooked Bengal
gram daal and stir. Bring to boil. Add
coconut milk and stir. Bring to boil. Add a
pinch of turmeric powder and a
tablespoonful of washed rice to the
mixture while boiling and stir a bit.

The cashew kernels are processed first
as follows: place tender cashew kernels
(about one tenth the quantity of Bengal
Gram daal) in water and bring to boil.
Allow to cool. Peel off the brown skin of
the kernels. Split the kernels in halves
and add to the daal-jaggery-coconut milk
mixture. Stir well and bring to boil.
Powder a few seeds of cardamom and
add the powder to the mixture. Add one
or two spoons of ghee. Madganay is now
ready to be served.

 On Yugadi festival people send gifts of
various eatables, such as jaggery,
roasted sesame seeds, roasted ground
nuts, rocky sugar, sugar molds, etc., to
friends and relatives. These are items
that are available in plenty following the
harvest. Small quantities of these
eatables are put in little plastic bags and
distributed, on a plate along with some
neem leaves. Neem leaves are very
bitter. The bitter neem leaves accompany
the sweet jaggery because the message
to convey is that the life in the New Year
is going to be not always sweet, but there
will be bitter moments too.
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