Each Indian festival is associated with unique food preparation that have medicinal and nutritional values, based on the timing of the festival.
14th January marks the transition of Sun into the Makar rashi (Capricorn) marked as Makar Sankranti all over India. It is a harvest festival celebrated as Pongal(Uzhavar Thirunal ) in Tamil nadu, Lohri in Punjab and as Uttarayan in Gujrath & Rajasthan. This day is celebrated with Kite flying, wishing each other with sweets and many other rituals.
In Sankranti , different types of sweets like Tilgul (in Maharashtra), Gajak (in Punjab), Chikkis (in Gujrath), Tilkut (in Bihar, Jharkhand), Ellu-Bella (in Karnatak), Pongal (in tamilnadu) are consumed. Interestingly main ingredients of most of these sweets are Sesame seeds & Jaggery.
Sesame ( Til – Sesamum Indicum ) is used not only because it is auspicious but also has a nutritional value.
According to Ayurveda, Sesame is extremely health beneficial and has medicinal properties.
Sesame has four Rasa (taste)- Sweet, Bitter, Pungent, Astringent.
It is oily and hot in nature, As Sankranti occurs in peak winter season, food prepared with sesame provides body much needed heat, keeps it warm and protects our body with cold.
It alleviates Vata and normalises Pitta and Kapha in our body, keeping us healthy.( Vata, Pitta & Kapha are three Doshas/Life forces of our body.) According to Ayurveda illness arises when these doshas, are out of balance).
Sesame also improves digestive power, is good for teeth and improves immunity power . It is Medhya (improves intelligence) and Keshya (promotes Hair growth). As it is rich in Vit E, improves quality of skin. Seasame oil massage is also adviced in winter season. It moisturises dry skin and strengthens the bones, muscles and joints.
Oil Pulling with Sesame oil is also beneficial.
Jaggery used in sweet is also hot in nature and is a rich source of Iron. It stimulates digestive power and alleviates Kapha Dosha in our body.it helps in blood purification and helps in Respiratory tract infections. It is healthy substitute for sugar.
Happy Makar Sankranti!