I have always celebrated two birthdays in a year. Two different days celebrated as my birthday. And celebrated differently !
No, there is no confusion about the day I was born, if that’s what you are thinking :-) ( though the year seems to have changed when I was put in school, for some weird logic which I never figured out, but it was to my advantage, so I didn’t challenge it ! :-).
It is a case in point for growing up in a traditional world trying to figure out the ‘new modern’ world outside. Being an Iyer girl, brought up in a similar environment to Agraharams but in Kerala, I had a Malayalam birthday. Being educated in a convent, I had an English birthday !
The Malayalam calendar, known as Kollavarsham has 12 months starting from Chingam ( mid Aug-Sept when Onam is celebrated ) and ends with Karkidakam ( July- Aug ). Read about it more here. So, when I was born, the corresponding Malayalam month and star was noted. According to Wiki, A star / A nakshatra or lunar mansion is one of the 27 or 28 divisions of the sky, identified by the prominent star(s) in them, that the Moon passes through during its monthly cycle, as used in Hindu astronomy and astrology.There are 27 stars starting from Ashwathi and ending with Revathi. Read more here.
To make it simpler, it is just another form of denoting a day in the calendar ( though at times, there are more than one star on one day.)
So, every year, by the end of June, my grandmom and my mom would be seen pondering over the Malayalam -English calendar ( yes, one which has the English dates and the corresponding Malayalam date & star as a footnote) to determine which day my Birthday would fall on !
Well, in the beginning, I never could figure out how my birthday kept changing each year especially when I had to explain to inquisitive school friends. After a point, I just stopped mentioning it to anyone else :-)
However, I got to celebrate my Malayalam Birthday in the traditional way with Sadya and Payasam, and a special pooja at home and the temple. I got to distribute sweets in my class and wear a new dress to school on my English Birthday ! ( Come to think of it, it is only once or maybe, twice that I have ever cut a cake for my birthday !!! )
So, this year when it was my daughter’s birthday I decided to continue the tradition. We celebrated her English Birthday with cutting a cake, which I baked and was the biggest disaster ( though my daughter and husband refute it ). It was a little courageous on my part to try the Molten-Centre Chocolate Cake from Baking Bites. I had done a lot of home work and thought it would be special.
Thank God she’s small not to know that it was not meant to be that way ;-)
I think I baked it a little too much, since the molten center didnt remain molten, and also the ganaches spoilt the look of the cake, as if they struggled to escape from the pan. But we finished it the very same day.
I tried to make up on her Malayalam birthday with Aravana Payasam.( Aravana Payasam is often offered as a prasadam ( offering) to the Gods in temples down south. It has a very auspicious note to it. )
She loved it :-)
To make Aravana Payasam, you need
Rice ( not Basmati ) 1 cup
Crushed Jaggery / Gur /Sharkara 1 cup
Coconut strips roasted in ghee for garnishing
1. In a thick-bottomed pan, boil 1 cup water. Add the rice and cook it by adding more water in instalments. The idea is that, when the rice is almost cooked, there should be very little water left in the pan.
2. At this stage, add the crushed jaggery to it. Mix it well. Let this cook for some more time, till all the jaggery is melted and mixed uniformly with the rice.
3. Now add ghee to it. Actually the more ghee you add, the better it will taste. However, I restricted the amount of ghee to about 2 tbsps. My mother says that it should ooze of ghee. My sense prevailed. The taste was not compromised too much.
4. Cook for a few minutes till the payasam leaves the sides of the pan.
5. Garnish with the coconut strips.
6. Serve hot.
I think, after all its not a bad idea to be celebrating two birthdays in a year