Til Gul (Ellu Bella) Recipe

This is not really a recipe as there is no cooking involved in this but I am just listing the ingredients that go into Til Gul (Ellu Bella).Til is Sesame seed and Gul is Jaggery.

This is traditionally made on the occasion of Sankranthi. Til Gul is distributed to all saying ‘Til Gul Gya Goda Goda Bol’ – meaning, ‘Have Til Gul and Speak sweetly’!

Let me quickly jump to the ingredients that go into this. (I am also mentioning some rough quantities but ideally you can chose the proportion that works for you)

Ingredients –

Til (Sesame seeds) – 3/4 cup

Cut Jaggery – 1/2 cup

Cut Copra (dried coconut) – 1/2 cup

Fried gram (Pottu Kadalai) – 1 cup

Peanuts – 1 cup

Sugar coated jeera (cumin seeds) – a handful (makes it colorful too)

Mishri – 2-3 tsp


– Dry roast the Til/sesame seeds

– Chop copra and jaggery into fine small pieces

– Dry roast the groundnuts and remove the skin after cooling. Also split them. (If you are using roasted and de-skinned peanuts, then you can skip this step)

-You can also optionally dry roast the fried gram

– Mix all the above along with the copra pieces, sugar coated jeera and mishri.

(You can leave out the sugar coated jeera and mishri if it is not readily available. These are just optional)

Til Gul ready!

Til Gul is ready for Sankaranthi. You can put them in covers/small boxes for distribution.

I will put the details of the Sankranthi function in another post very soon 🙂

Til Gul ready for distribution with some Sakaricha Achha 🙂

Uttana Dwadasi (Tulasi Vivaaha Pooja)

With Uttana Dwadasi around the corner, I thought it is a good time to post the details of this pooja (with pictures from last year) as it might be helpful to some of you.

Tulasi Pooja


Karthika shukla paksha dwadasi is known as Uttana dwadasi. ‘Uttana’ means getting up from sleep. It is believed that God sleeps for 4 months during Chaturmasa and is getting up on Uttana Dwadasi day. This generally falls in Oct/Nov.Uttana Dwadasi is celebrated as the Tulasi Vivaaha day – The day when Tulasi got married to Lord Krishna (Vishnu). Tulasi (Basil) plant is considered very sacred and is also known for its medicinal properties. It can be found in almost all the households and ladies water and do pooja for the Tulasi plant daily. This Pooja is a very important festival for Madhwas and is celebrated in a grand manner.

Significance of the Amla plant – In Karthika Month, it is believed that God Vishnu exists in the Amla plant in the name of Damodara. Hence this is used in this function.


  • Rangoli powder (Kola maavu) and Gheru (Semman)
  • Paat (Plank)
  • Tulsi plant (in Tulsi vrindavan or any other pot)
  • Twig from Amla (gooseberry) plant preferably with some Amlas in it
  • 5 Amla (gooseberry) fruits for aarathi (or Silver Amla lamps)
  • Fruits, Flowers and Cocunut
  • Beetel leaves and Supari
  • Haldi, Kumkum, Mantarakshata, Vasthra
  • Lamps/Diyas for lighting, Aligarathi
  • Tulsi/Goddess face with a small black beads mangalsutra – if you have this.
  • Picture or idol of Krishna to place along with Tulasi.
  • Crackers/Fireworks (if you have saved some from Diwali!)

Procedure –

1) This Utwan Dwadasi pooja is usually done in the evenings (I love that it is in the evenings – morning poojas before office is really stressful :)!).

2) You can place the Tulasi plant in the house where you want to do the pooja after putting a small rangoli and also keep a twig from the Amla plant in it.

3) Decorate the Tulasi plant as you like and keep a picture or idol of Krishna along with Tulasi.

4) Light lamps and agarbathi (incense stick) for the Goddess.

5) On a aarathi plate, place the Amla/Gooseberries and put wicks (Phool vaath) on them. I also use silver gooseberry lamps that my mom got for me for this purpose (please see the picture below – these are available in India). It might look a bit tricky to make the gooseberries stand on the plate. Usually some turmeric mixed with water is used under each amla to form a steady base. (I have not done that in this picture as my amlas were seated fine without it)

6) Put Haldi, Kumkum, Mantarakshatha, Vastra, flowers and do Pooja. You can tell Tulasi slokas if you know this. I have included Tulasi Archana Sloka below. The archana can be done with flowers or with kumkum.

7) Light the amla lamps and do aarathi for Tulasi and Krishna.

8) Do Neivaidhya of fruits, laddoos and other items (please scroll down for details on the neivaidya items)

9) Do Namaskara and pray to Tulasi for a good life!

10) Many more lamps can also be lit outside and around the house. Kids also enjoy fireworks on this day.

11)Vida/Thamboolam can be given to Sumangalis along with Kosambari and Laddoos.

The bride all dressed up 🙂

Amla aarathi.

Menu/Neivaidya items –

Apart from preparing the typical festival food, for Uttana Dwadasi specifically Laddoos are made with different items like Pori (puffed rice), Pottu kadalai (fried gram), groundnuts etc.

  • 5 different types of laddoos
  • Fruits
  • Yellow Moong Kosambari
  • Coconut
  • Kheer

Neivaidhya items

Tulasi Archana  

(The Archana can be done with kumkum or flowers)

Tulase Namaha
Vishnupatne Namaha
Agaantaryai Namaha
Loka Vandithayai Namaha
Ramborve Namaha
Pithambara Dharanyai Namaha
Ksheerambdi Tanayayai Namaha
Loka Jananyai namaha
Damodara priyayai Namaha
Kumbasthanyai Namaha
Sakalasura Poojithayai Namaha
Sarvabharana Bhooshitayai Namaha
Sumukhayai Namaha
Bimboshtyai Namaha
Sunaasikayai Namaha
Utpalakshai Namaha
Taadanga Dharinyai Namaha
Ramaayai Namaha
Indusurdaryai Namaha
Tulasyai Namaha II

Naga Chaturthi and Naga Panchami

Naga Chaturthi and Naga Panchami are very auspicious days in the Madhwa calendar. On these days we worship the Serpent God – Naga.

Naga Chaturthi is observed by Ladies who pray for the welfare of their children and Naga Panchami is performed by all. Naga Panchami is also a day when women pray for the welfare of their brothers.

Naga Chaturthi (Nagaachautha)


Nagaachauth, a festival to worship Nag Devatas (Serpent Gods), is mainly a women festival. It is observed by married women for their wellbeing of their children.It is also believed that praying to Naaga will keep one away from skin disorders and ear problems.

Note: I know that people say that Snakes don’t drink milk or any of the things that are offered as part of the ritual mentioned below. However I think the ritual might have been started to encourage people to live in harmony with Nature. Apart from this, by offering this to the Termite mount, we might be feeding and supporting a lot of other insects and organisms around it.


  • Unboiled milk
  • Ghee
  • Flowers
  • Rock Salt
  • Pepper
  • Rice flour
  • Jaggery and Til (ground in mixie)
  • Thambit (Rice flour, Jaggery, Til and Coconut)
  • Green moong (lightly roasted)
  • Full channa (lightly roasted)
  • Nel Pori
  • Cotton
  • Rangoli powder (Kola maavu)
  • Paat (Plank)
  • Diva/Lamps for lighting
  • Fruits, Flowers and Cocunut
  • Haldi
  • Mantarakshata, Vasthra – Both Yellow for Naga chaturthi (no kumkum)
  • Silver Naag (for pooja)

Items for Pooja

Procedure –

1) Make a rangoli outside the house with 2 Nags (Usually there is always a big Nag and  small child Nag drawn in all the places). A similar one is done near the stove in the kitchen and on the Paat on which the Naag is going to be kept for the pooja.

2) Draw Naag outside the house on the wall with turmeric water – 2 Naags are to be drawn. (If you live in an apartment and dont want to draw it on the wall, you can do it on paper and stick it outside). Put Vastra for this Naag also.

3) Keep the Silver Naag for Pooja in a plate or small bowl. Keep this on a Paat.

4) With a silver Udharani, put 3 spoons of water, then put 3 spoons of unboiled milk, Ghee and then again water.

5) Put little of each of the following (or whatever is available) – Salt, Black pepper, cotton, Rice flour, Channa, Full moong, Jaggery and til paste, Nel Pori.

6) Put Haldi, yellow Mantarakshata (made with only turmeric), Vastra (made only with turmeric).

7) Light the lamps, Put flowers and pray to Naag for the well being of children and all others in the family.

8) Do Mangalaarathi and namaskara.

9) Saanje (Sojji or Rava Kesari) is made as Neivaidhya. Offer the same to God. Also offer coconut and other fruits as Neivaidhya.

10) Usually women with children do Palahara once – This depends on family tradition also, so please check and follow accordingly.

11) If possible go to the temple (puthu – Termite mount) and offer all the items that you offered to the Naag at home.

12) There is also  practice of tying Daava (a thread like Raakhi) to small children below 5 years. The Daava is tied on the right hand above the elbow.

Nagas drawn outside

Naga chaturthi Pooja

Naga Panchami

On Naga Panchami day, all the people in the house should do pooja in a similar way as mentioned above. You can also include Kumkum, Red mantrakakshata and Red Vastra on this day.

We also make a Putthu like object using Clay and keep a few Naagas on it and do Pooja (Forgot to take a picture of this).

This is a festival and so festival food is prepared and eaten.

Tips –

1) You can get a few things like all the items for Pooja a day earlier.  Keep 3 portions of this – one set for the Nagachaturthi pooja, one set for Naga Panchami pooja and one set for the temple pooja.

2) Palahara items for Naga Chautha are usually Uppit, Sojji, Sadudhana Bakala bath had along with Vadaya (Papad).

3) I have mentioned almost an exhaustive list for what all needs to be put on the Naaga for the pooja. However it is all optional and you can use whatever is easily available.

Gudi Padava/Ugadi

Happy New Year to all of you!

Gudi Padava/Ugadi is one of the most important festivals for us. It marks the beginning of a new year and we celebrate it in a grand fashion.

Disclaimer – Please note that the below documented pooja is the way I perform it based on what I have learnt from my parents/inlaws. We are Marathi Madhwas (Desistha) and I usually try to follow whatever I can with my limited time and resources. Please check with your respective families before performing the functions. Constructive feedback is welcome.


Ugadi marks the new year and is celebrated with new clothes, sweets and by opening the new calendar (Panchanga). (Some families also keep the Gudi with stick etc but since that is not done in our family, I have not updated that here)


  • Mango leaves (For thoran outside the house)
  • Rangoli powder (Kola maavu)
  • Paat (Plank)
  • New year calendar (Panchanga for the new year)
  • Diva/Lamps for lighting
  • Fruits, Flowers and Cocunut
  • Haldi, Kumkum, Mantarakshata, Vasthra

Procedure –

1) Take oil bath and wear new dresses (if you have purchased for Ugadi)  (Usually when new dresses are bought, before wearing them, the elders in the family keep it in front of God and put some kumkum on it and then give it to the person wearing it along with their blessings)

2) Make a rangoli outside the house – you could do an elaborate one if you have the time.

3) Make Thoran out of the Mango leaves and tie it outside the house (on the door) or for the entrance of the pooja room.

4) On the Paat, Make a rangoli and place the new Panchanga. Light lamps in front of it along with Incense sticks(Agarbathi). Keep haldi, kumkum, mantarakshata, vasthra and flowers on a tray for the pooja. Also keep the fruits and broken coconut on another tray for neivaidya.

5) Do pooja by putting the kumkum, haldi, mantarakshata, vasthra and flowers for the Panchanga. Also do aarathi and do neivaidya of all the fruits. Do namaskara.

6) Thank God for the previous year and pray for a great year ahead.

7) Once the food is ready, do neivaidya of the food before eating.

Ugadi Pooja

Mango leaf thoran

Menu/Neivaidya items –

As in the case of most festivals, typical madhwa festival food is prepared –

  • Kosambari, Paanaga, Buttermilk
  • Bhaji(Palya)
  • Kadi or Pitla or both
  • Ambode
  • Saaru (Rasam)
  • Kheer
  • Puranpoli
  • Neem flower pachadi (Vepampu pachadi) – New Year Special

Out of the above, the Neem flower Pachadi (recipe below) and Kheer are definitely prepared for the New year celebrations. The rest of the items are as per your time and convenience.


Neem Flower Pachadi Recipe


This pachadi has ingredients which give it a sweet-bitter-sour tangy taste. This is eaten on Ugadi day to signify that Life will be a mix of sweet-bitter-sour experiences and we should learn to accept all these elements in our life.

Neem Flower Pachadi


  • Neem Flowers (Few numbers)
  • Tamarind juice
  • Jaggery
  • Raw Mango pieces
  • Salt to taste and a Pinch of haldi powder


First clean the neem flowers. In a small kadai, dry roast the Neem flowers (very lightly). Then add the tamarind juice, jaggery and raw mango pieces to this along with a pinch of salt and haldi. Just let it simmer a little and take it off the flame. (If you let it boil too much it would end up being too bitter and you dont want that element to rule your life 😛 )



  • Try to get all the things you need for the Pooja and keep it ready on the previous day. If Ugadi is a working day for you, you could even do the Rangoli etc on the previous day.
  • Plan your menu and make sure you have all the ingredients stocked up in the kitchen (I never do this and land up having a grumpy hubby on the festival day as he has to go in the last minute to pick up stuff from the grocery store ;-)). You could also do some of the activities like cutting veggies, grating coconut etc and store them in the fridge.
  • Enjoy the festival and dont worry if you are not able to do everything!

Holi Festival

We see the country celebrate holi with vibrant colours, dance, sweets, bhang etc but at home Holi is celebrated in a very simple and different way.

For us, Holi is considered a festival and needless to mention, ‘Sanaacha Sampak’ (Festival food) goes with it. Other than that there is not much pomp associated with this festival. As my MIL refers to it, ‘Kheer Varan’ is what is required. And ofcourse, the speciality for holi is Puranpoli!

For those with small kids < 5 years of age, Holi is the time they are adorned with Maalas (garlands) made out of edible items such as Puffed rice Maala, Sugar candy Maala, Chocolate maala, biscuit maala etc. This is believed to be for ‘Peeda Parihara’. I will have to check on the exact significance of this custom; Nevertheless, it is a fun way to celebrate and kids would enjoy it too.

Disclaimer – Please note that the below documented pooja is the way I perform it based on what I have learnt from my parents/inlaws. We are Marathi Madhwas (Desistha) and I usually try to follow whatever I can with my limited time and resources. Please check with your respective families before performing the functions. Constructive feedback is welcome.

Significance –

Holi is a festival; an auspicious day….

Menu –

Typical festival food with Puran Poli

Procedure –

Perform regular basic Pooja and do neivaidya to God before eating.

Hot Puran polis :)

Hot Puran polis 🙂

Its Holi! Its Poli time!

Its Holi! Its Poli time!

For kids below 5 years of age –

Preparation –

  • Buy a new dress for the kid [‘Pink’ is the commonly prescribed colour for this occasion]
  • Make or buy maalas made out of edible items  (sample pics below)
Beads for sugar maala

Beads for sugar maala

Sample maalas

Sample maalas

Holi Maalas - Puffed rice & Cashew Badam, Eclairs mala, Chocos and Honeyloops mala & Polo maala

Holi Maalas – Puffed Rice & Cashew Badam, Eclairs mala, Chocos and Honeyloops mala & Polo maala



Procedure –

  • Put on the new dress for the kid(s) (Usually when new dresses are bought, before wearing them, the elders in the family keep it in front of God and put some kumkum on it and then give it to the person wearing it along with their blessings)
  • Invite a few friends/relatives to be part of the function
  • Make the kid sit down on a plank (Paat) or chair facing East
  • Put the maalas one by one (and dont bother if they start eating them immediately :))
  • Once you have put all the maalas, do Akshana (aarathi) to remove drishti. Then you can remove the maalas and let the kids feast on the goodies!

Tips –

  • If you do not have the time to make Puranpolis, any simple Kheer should be just fine to celebrate the occasion.
  • Get the maalas, new dress ready well in advance before the function. If you are in India, you can buy these maalas readymade (esp in Chennai, Bangalore – not sure about other places)
  • If possible do the function for a few kids (maybe neighbour kids) along with your own – it makes it more fun and kids cooperate better in a group!


Ratha Saptami or Rathasapthami (Sanskrit: रथसप्तमी or Magha Saptami) is a Hindu festival that falls on the seventh day (Saptami) in the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu month Maagha.[2] It marks the seventh day following the Sun’s northerly movement (Uttarayana) of vernal equinox starting from Capricorn (Makara). It is symbolically represented in the form of the Sun God Surya turning his Ratha (Chariot) drawn by seven horses (representing seven colours) towards the northern hemisphere, in a north-easterly direction. It also marks the birth of Surya and hence celebrated as Surya Jayanti (the Sun-god’s birthday).

Ratha Saptami is symbolic of the change of season to spring and the start of the harvesting season. For most Indian farmers, it is an auspicious beginning of the New Year. The festival is observed by all Hindus in their houses and in innumerable temples dedicated to Surya, across India.”


We celebrate Rathasapthami to pray to Lord Surya (Sun God) and thank him for helping with the harvest.


  • Ekka (Calotropis Gigantea) or Erukku leaves (Common name  – Milk weed leaf)
  • Haldi, Kumkum
  • Paat (or Plank) to draw Ratha with Surya for pooja
  • Geru (to draw on the Paat)
  • Groceries –
    • Toor Dal – little
    • Tamarind – small piece
    • Gul/Jaggery – small piece
    • Dried chilli – 1
  • Vegetables –
    • Red pumpkin – 1 small piece
    • Avarakkai – 1
    • Sugarcane – 1 small piece
    • Elandapazham/Bora/Jujube – 1
    • Sweet potato – 1 small piece
  • Flowers for the pooja
  • Diva/Lamps for lighting


  1.  On the Paat (Plank) draw the chariot (Rath) using Geru with decoration such as flags on the top, plantain trees on the sides, sun and moon inside and a chain with people pulling the chariot. On the 2 sides draw 2 rectangles with 10 boxes each – this is for filling with pulses and vegetables which represents the shops on the side of the pathway. It is also representative of the harvest.
  2. In these boxes on one side fill with Haldi, Kumkum, toor Dal, Tamarind, Jaggery, Chilli, Jeera, Pepper.
  3. On the other side fill with Vegetables like a small piece of Red pumpkin, sugarcane, elandapazham/bora, Sweet potato piece, Avarakkai. Refer to the sample photo below (Note : I will get a better picture next time from my Mom/MIL and change this one. Apart from the drawing (which is flawed) I did not have all the items mentioned above for filling the boxes)

    Paat with Surya Rath

  4. Make a rangoli outside the house also in a similar fashion.
  5. Now get the leaves (Errukku leaves) ready for bathing. For men 7 leaves(2 on left shoulder, 2 on right shoulder,3 – head) , For women 7 leaves (4 on left shoulder, 3 on right shoulder)
  6. Put Haldi, Kumkum and rice  on all these. (Important – While going for a bath, remember and remind others to take this along :D). [Note: For men who do Tarpan for their parents, instead of haldi and kumkum, Black Til/Sesame seed should be kept)

    Milk-weed leaves

  7. Place these on shoulder and head as mentioned above, and take a bath to wash it down.
  8. Prepare neivaidya kheer as mentioned in the below section. Traditionally, the kheer is prepared on the terrace or in the open in a charcoal stove and offered to Surya. If that is not possible, you can do the neivaidhya and Pooja from the house itself.
  9. If possible give Vida/Tamboolam (Beetel leaf, Dakshina, Coconut/Fruit, Supari) to other Sumangalis.


Special Neivaidya – Rathasapthami kheer Recipe

As I mentioned earlier in this post, this kheer is traditionally prepared in the open (under the sun) using a charcoal stove/Cow dung stove. Then it is offered to Surya after the Pooja. However, since this is not easily feasible, I usually prepare this on the gas stove and then do the neivaidhya.

The kheer is extremely tasty as it is prepared by condensing the milk.

Ingredients –

  • Rice – 4 -5 tbsp
  • Milk  – 1/2 litre
  • Gul/Jaggery ~5tbsp
  • Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp

Procedure –

  1. In a small pressure cooker (or any other thick bottomed vessel), put the rice and milk and let it boil well. As it cooks, make sure you put it on low flame.
  2. The rice has to cook fully in milk itself – so this take some time. You can close it lightly with the lid and keep checking on whether it is cooked. If required, you can also add more milk.
  3. Once this is well cooked, add the Jaggery to this and stir well for it to mix. (If you think the Jaggery might have some impurities, you can dissolve it in a little water and filter it using a fine sieve, this can then be used)
  4. After it is well cooked, add the cardamom powder.


Tips –

  • As always keep all the things required for the Pooja ready in advance
  • You can even do the rangoli on the Paat on the previous day
  • Once you bring the Erukke leaves, wash them and dry it with a cloth before using it. All this can also be prepared in advance.