The festival of Ganeshotsav is celebrated with great enthusiasm and excitement in India and more particularly in Maharashtra. This is a 10 day festival that starts with Ganesh Chaturthi. In Sanskrit, Chaturthi refers to fourth day and this festival is specifically celebrated during fourth day of the waxing moon in Bhadrapada as per Hindu calendar which comes around August-September.
It would be difficult to say this with a clear idea as to when this festival was started, but in Maharashtra, it took the visionary leader in Lokmanya Bal Gangadar Tilak to start the practice of Ganeshotsav celebration on a grand scale. While this festival was celebrated before by individual families within the confines of their homes, Lokmanya Tilak made all efforts to make this festival a community celebration to being together all the communities and fight as one force against British regime. So Ganeshotsav we see today in Maharashtra celebrated with such majestic grandeur, its idea was conceived by Lokmanya Tilak a century ago.
The last day of this 10 day festival is known as Anant Chaturdashi where Chaturdashi refers to 14th day of the month and if you notice it is in line with the calculation (starts at 4th day and ends at 14th day). This day witnesses a huge out pour of masses gathering in what is known as “visarjan miravnuk” or the procession for immersion of Ganesh idols. These idols are made up of materials like clay, wood and Plaster of Paris (POP). The community of people that has played host to Lord Ganesh for these 10 days will carry these idols to nearby water bodies like lakes, rivers or sea and immerse these idols, bidding adieu to lord and urging him to return next year. This marks the end of 10 daylong celebrations.
Though it may seem odd, but Anant Chaturdashi is identified as a day when people pray and fast to please Anant-meaning eternal (a form of Vishnu who is immortal and eternal). As per the Hindu beliefs, this story was narrated by Lord Krishna to Yudhishthira when he lost all his wealth and kingdom. According to this story, a girl named Sushila was born in a Brahmin family of Sumant, her father and Diksha her mother. Diksha died after giving birth to her child. Sumant married a lady named karkash. She was unusually harsh to this child and would often torture her. Sushila, while growing up fell in love with a man named Kaundilya and eloped with him to save herself from the bestial and barbaric acts of her step-mother.
Once it so happened that Sushila was taking bath in a river when she saw some women offering some prayers. Inquisitively, she asked those pious ladies what they were doing. She found out that they were praying to Lord Anant, one who brings good fortune, wealth and richness. Sushila decided that she too would pray to Lord Anant and tied an Anant string to her hand. In due course of time, they became rich and wealthy. Kaundilya once noticed the string tied in his wife’s hand and asked her about it. She truthfully narrated him her conversation with those ladies she met on bank of river. Listening to her story, Kaundilya was infuriated. He snatched the string from her hand and threw it in fire as he believed that they had become rich due to his hard work.
As the story goes, their wealth started reducing and they gradually became poor. This prompted Sushila to remind her husband of his misdeeds and that he should try and make amends. Kaundilya realized his mistake and went in search of Anant. After a rigorous quest, Kaundilya discovered Anant in form of an old Brahmin who not only rescues him but also guides him. Kaundilya heeds Anant’s advice and undertakes a 14 years vow which helps him get wealth, happiness and everything that he desires for.
So ever since then, people pray to Lord Anant and fast on this day. A silk sacred thread is tied on left hand by women and right hand by men. This thread is mark of prosperity and considered blessings of Lord Anant.
The best part about these 10 days of festivities, for a foodie like me is food. We experiment and try to make different sweets as offering for Ganesh. So while we started this festival by making the traditional offering of Ukadiche Modak, we have been making different desserts as offering. We made a barfi using Khoya (Mawa), rice and milk. This barfi requires minimal ingredients and it came out as an absolute treat. We liked it so much that we ended up making it 2-3 times already, and decided to share the recipe.
The recipe demands patience as Milk must be boiled with rice and khoya until it reduces to almost halwa consistency. This can take anywhere between 45 mins to an hour. After an hour of cooking time, 30 mins of baking time is needed to evenly bake the barfi mixture and get the nice brown colored texture. You can make this dessert during this year’s Ganeshotsav and share your feedback with us in comment section below.
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- 1 litre full fat milk
- 30 gram rice soaked in water for 15 mins
- 125 gram sugar
- 40 gram Khoya(Mawa)
- 15 Almonds(Soak them in water and peel off its skin)
- For garnishing some almonds and pistachios
- Heat milk in a heavy bottom pan.
- Meanwhile we will grate Khoa/Khoya. Grating Khoya helps to 1) get rid of impurities if any and 2)incorporates air to make it more fluffy.
- As the milk starts to boil lower the flame.
- Add soaked rice to the milk and cook it.
- Let milk and rice simmer till it gets reduced.
- Meanwhile peel off the skin of soaked almonds.Make a thick and fine paste of almonds adding little milk instead of water.
- In 30 mins on low flame, rice gets cooked and milk gets reduced.
- Now add almond paste to the milk.Now add sugar and grated Khoya.
- Mix all the ingredients nicely.
- Allow the milk to simmer till we attain a thick consistency like Halwa.
- Keep stirring the milk to prevent it from getting burnt by sticking at the bottom of vessel.
- In 25 mins on low flame, Milk (Barfi mixture) is sufficiently reduced.
- Turn off the flame.Preheat the oven for further baking .
- Preheat the oven at 160°C.
- While Oven is getting pre-heated, grease a baking tray with some ghee.
- Pour the barfi mixture in the baking tray.
- Sprinkle some chopped Almonds and pistachios.
- Now put the baking tray in Oven for 25 mins or until a brown layer is formed on top.
- After 25 mins, get the baking tray out.
- Allow the barfi to cool down at room temperature and then put it in refrigerator for 30 mins to 1 hour.
- After 60 mins of refrigeration, cut the barfi into squares.
- Khoya Chawal ki Barfi is ready.
Click here to watch recipe video