Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Panchadara Chilakalu

Diwali (Hindi) or Deepavali (Telugu) is the festival of lights. Its an important festival and celebrated by most of the Indians. Both children and grown ups every one enjoys this festival. In India for each festival we make some dishes- be it sweets, desserts, main courses or other things, but that is specific or specially made for that occasion.

Well for Diwali, since it is a celebration of happiness and joy, we make, eat and give away sweets.  Perhaps for  no other festival do we make or eat so many sweets and desserts. 

Any way here is one sweet or confectionery which is offered to Goddess Laksmi-Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. She is said to be fond of sweet dishes. So she is offered, sugar cane, sweets etc.

This is known as Panchadara Chilakalu in Telugu- Panchadara means sugar Chilakalu means parrot. These are made of sugar. Sugar is made into a syrup of perhaps thick consistency and then poured into moulds. They are made into dollops, sticks or pyramid, parrot shapes. The most popular is the parrot shape and that is why they are called as Chilakalu (in Telugu) meaning parrot.The shape you are seeing of the parrot(white coloured) above is the traditional motif as seen on the walls of our temples or as block prints in Kalamkari or as thread work on our saris. Colours like pink and yellow are also added. But I am afraid they may not of good quality. So I avoid buying any other than white ones. 

These sweets were a great hit with children once. As a child I loved them when my Granny Now a days except for some festivals like this perhaps no one uses them. These sweets are distributed on Diwali and Holi (festival of colours) in North India and some parts of South India perhaps in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. In fact the dollops are stringed to make a garland and after applying colour, each person is garlanded with these sweets. 

We in Andhra use these sweets during the celebrations of Sankranti or Pongal (agricultural festival) when Sun enters Capricorn. This is the time when we get all agricultural produce specially sugar cane. So sweets made of sugar are used and distributed to friends and relatives.

Apart from this we Telugus have the tradition of distributing these figures made of sugar when a baby  speaks for the first time. But now we are slowly losing out to chocolates and other things.

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