Boishakh - the special month to celebrate nature
The tiny green mangoes , the long strips of shojne data and piles of watermelons along with the heat of the scorching sun reminds us that once again the Bangla new year has arrived. Our trees became shiny green after shedding the old leaves and flowers. Like human life nature follows the same rule – new life begins soon after the disappearance of the old one. The gift of nature is enormous. So many types of vegetables and fruits – trees, flowers are grown in this season. The other day, I noticed that some baby jackfruits were embracing their mother tree - what a scene! Many things came into my mind. I know many of us are just waiting to have the special delicacy of this month/season - 'aechor (green jackfruit curry) '. In this special month, we usually go for different tastes to match the change of the nature and climate. This month makes us more Bengalis than ever. Wherever we live, we try to present our cultural richness to others. We, the urbanites, practise Bangaliana very consciously in Boishakh; better to say overly-presented in some areas. With our special panta bhaat (watery rice with the fried piece of hilsha fish), with our saris, coloured glass bangles and fancy panjabis and gamchas and even with our songs, we try to be Bengali again!
In this Bangla month, our traditional practice is to have bitter gourd, korall, data or pat shak, bhorta or jhol and daal with green mangos or shajne data, have aam/mango bhorta /mesh with burnt chillies and kashundi ( a spicy mix) – all these are mouth watering. Actually all of the Boishakhi items are healthy.
The reason I mention all this is because I want to tell my readers to remember the names of the traditional recipes which are made of special vegetables and fruits and also to pass on the knowledge and practices to the next generation. In earlier times, in the 50s-60s, we have seen on the first day of Boishakh and throughout the month our dadis/nanis and our mothers used to cook special 'niramish (vegetable curry)' by mixing at least seven or eight types of vegetables together. Do you know what is daler bori - made of a special variety of gourd and kolaer dal (one type of lentil)? This is another special item of Boishakh that goes with different recipes. Many years ago, lebur shorbet/tetuler or beler shorbet was a must and our mothers were busy fixing special yoghurt/doier hari in individual houses. How can we forget the thin curry with green tetul (tamarinds); chaal kumra fry with shorshey bata/paste?
I hope by now some of my readers became interested to have their own source of these items like shajney data –paat shak, bitter gourd in their own vicinity. Let's make an effort. If I can do this – you can also do it. First of all, revisit the area –space of your choice. In our flat-based lives, rooftops and balconies are our only options. But if you have your own house –residential space, just select the sunny area – by no means should any damp site be chosen. Now, it is time to make the outline of your garden. It is important to remember that the bigger standing trees and plants with greater longevity should be placed around the wall than the smaller trees like lemons, guava etc. Share your ideas with a plant lover or plant specialist and progress with your dream garden. Urban gardening needs your sincere interest and some quality time in that space. In my next column I wish to tell you the nitty-gritty of urban gardening. Till then enjoy Boishakh!
Please feel free to send me emails to share your thoughts, feedback, and photos of your garden, or to tell your story; or ask a question on the garden issue.