A new year always starts on a sweet note. The Indian calendar welcomes each New Year with this auspicious festival falling on the same date on the calendar even with change in the decades. The very scientific reason for this is that this is the only “tithi” that follows the solar calendar instead like the other festivals that follow the lunar calendar. Hence in every nook and corner of the country the festival is celebrated with different names and folk-stories. But the key ingredient and intention remains the same.
The Science part of the story
A deep scientific and cultural reason also exists for the gaiety and vibrancy of the festival. According to the Hindu astronomy, on Makar Sankranti, the sun enters the Makara rashi (Capricorn). On Makar Sankranti day, 14th January, the sun no longer moves southward and begins its northward journey (Uttarayan). Makar Sankranti marks the decline of a long winter with the return of the sun to the Northern Hemisphere and hence the name Uttarayan. After this day the days start becoming longer and warmer, and thus the chill of winter declines. This is the transition of Ayanas. Uttarayan is also known as Aadan kaal. As heat increases nature graduallytakes away energy and strength fromus. On this day of Uttarayan, is the Shishir rutu which is cold. Digestive fire/ Agni and Sharir bala/strength is high and thus can consume heavy (Guru), unctuous (snigdha) and hot potency (ushna veerya) aahar like sesame, beans, dry fruits and nuts with pure ghee and home-made butter. Kapha dosha accumulation starts in shishir. That’s why avoid cold food, excess meals, sweets made up of sugar, and use jaggery to replace sugar.Avoid day time sleep and laziness about physical activities.Do regular Yoga and physical exercises. It will nourish your body tissues(saptadhatu). It signifies the end of winter and the beginning of spring, when the trees start becoming green again, the flowers bloom and the weather becomes pleasant.
Diversity & culture together
Sankranti represents the beginning of the farming season and people across the country rejoice, and so celebrated universally across the country as in Maharashtra called as “ Makar Sankranti”, in Uttar Pradesh, Sankrant is called ‘Khichiri’, Tamil nadu its the “Pongal”, Bengal it’s called Makar/til/sesame/sesame/sesame Sankranti, in Gujarat the festival of “Kite flying”, in Punjab signified as “Lohri”, and in other parts of the country it gets its own significance and name. But what this festival helps is the maintenance of social relationships within the family, caste and community to show the real essence of unity in diversity!!!
The soul of the festival
The names might differ due to diversity of languages and location, but the significance and the presence of “sesame seeds/til seeds” and its sweetness remains the same. Sesame or til/sesame seeds hold special significance during Makar Sankranti. It is the grain par excellence and is eaten and given away in daan on this day. According to Hindu mythology the God Yama blessed the sesame seed and hence they are regarded as the symbols of immortality. So the person who consumes this tiny grain in this particular season in smaller proportions and as a simple add-on in the daily diet thus significantly remains healthy. Both black and white til/sesame/sesame/sesame seeds hold equal importance. But mostly white til/sesame seeds are consumed across the world.
Not to ignore the nutritional and Ayurveda value of these tiny seeds. They have a number of benefits as a part of daily diet: sesame seeds are a significant source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, zinc, fibre, thiamine, vitamin B6 and folate. Sesame oil equally works wonders and has a potential fat- burning capacity.
Sesame seeds support a healthy digestive system and colon as they are rich in fibre. They help in healthy functioning of the intestines. Rich in copper and antioxidants they are said to relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Magnesium found in sesame gives relief against respiratory disease and asthma. Rich in zinc and calcium, it maintains bone health. Sesame seeds are high in the monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which helps in lowering the bad cholesterol and increasing the good cholesterol in the body.
Ancient insights and Ayurveda aspect to Sesame/Til Seeds
Sesame seed is one of the most widely used Ayurveda medicines. From the Ayurveda perspective, sesame seed is sweet, bitter, pungent and astringent in taste. They absorb and enter the body channels very quickly. They are heavy (guru), unctuous (snigdha), deep penetrating (sukshma), have a hot potency (ushna virya) with a sweet post-digestive effect (madhur vipaka). In this Ritu commonly known as shishir, the combination of sesame and jaggery melts gives warmth and liquifies the kapha dosha which helps to detox kapha in the next Ritu of vasant or spring. Popularly known as ‘til/sesame’ in Ayurveda, the oil is extracted by pressing natural sesame seeds and is used in Ayurveda techniques in multiple ways. Sesame oil derived from the raw Indian sesame seeds is a traditional oil of choice for Abhyanga which is a form of daily Ayurveda self-massage. Not only is it a rich source of linolenic acid but also has antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a versatile oil according to Ayurveda and proves excellent when used for massage.
Indian sesame seeds are one of the ancient condiments that escort health & Ayurveda benefits in umpteen ways. Sesame oil is truly a gift from nature to us and its benefits cannot be denied. Ayurveda uses the benefits in oil and seeds equally to and is widely used in daily intake, external and internal use.
Here are some mouth watering daily sesame seed recipes you won’t want to miss making at home!!!
Healthy Sesame drizzle salad:
Spinach shredded, red-cabbage shredded, crushed paneer cubes (optional), cucumber diced, carrots shredded, pomegranate kernels, lemon juice, ginger juice, rock salt, til/sesame oil, roasted white & black sesame seeds. Take all the veggies in a glass bowl (washed well). In a small glass bowl take til/sesame oil, add rock salt, white & black sesame seeds, lemon juice, and ginger juice. Mix well and make a quick dressing. Pour the dressing over the chopped veggies, crushed paneer cubes, pomegranate and give a quick stir and keep in the refrigerator (if required) and remove just before serving. Best goes with toasts, plain crackers.
Healthy Sesame dip:
Til/Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (without shell) , rock salt, honey, black pepper , lemon juice.
Soak the til/sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds overnight. In a grinder add soaked sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, rock salt, black pepper. Add little water and grind into a smooth paste. Transfer to a glass container/serving bowl. Add lime juice, honey. Stir well. Your on the go-homemade Tahini (fat-free) dip is ready. Best to go with dhirde/creeps, dosa, bhakri/ Indian roti, breads, crackers.
Guilt-free snack bar
Til/sesame seeds, roasted moong (flour), ground nuts (roasted), walnuts (crushed), plain puffs (cereals-non flavoured/ rajgira puffs/popped rice), honey, ghee/clarified butter, cardamom seeds, nutmeg (pinch), dry ginger powder (pinch). Take a pan, dry roast til/sesame seeds, moong dal flour, groundnuts, and walnuts til/sesame light brown. Remove from flame. Add honey, ghee, plain puffs, cardamom, nutmeg, sunthi and mix well when hot. Now take a plate, apply little ghee, add the hot mix and flatten well into a thin sheet. Cut into small flat pieces and let cool. Once cooled, store in a glass/air-tight jar. A healthy on the go-snack bar is ready.
Refreshing mouth freshener
Til/sesame (white), fennel seeds, cumin seeds,
ajwain seeds (carom seeds), cardamom seeds, amla (grated/dried), ginger (grated/dried), black salt, turmeric. Take an iron vessel/wok/kadhai. Dry roast fennel, carom, cumin seeds, then add til/sesame seeds, cardamom seeds, add salt, turmeric powder. Switch off the gas. Remove from gas, combine grated amla, ginger flakes. Mix well. When cooled, store in an air-tight container. You’re on the Go mouth freshener is ready!!
We at TURYAA believe that natural, seasonal and locally available foods are the key to maintaining good health and we will always inspire you to use the best natural ingredients in the wholesome and natural way!!! Stay tuned to more such interesting facts & insights with our unique sessions and updates. TURYAA wishes you and your loved ones a Best wishes for your festival. Stay Safe, Be Safe!
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Ayurveda and Panchakarma Practitioner, Nadi Pariksha Expert
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