In India, fasting on special days each month and annual festivals is a ritual with many traditional families. Fasting days are made special with a sprinkling of a special cuisine, also known as fasting food, which one can savour during the fast.
Mahashivratri, a festival that honours Lord Shiva, literally translates as the “great night”. Devotees of Lord Shiva stay up on this auspicious night celebrating and chanting his name and singing bhajans. Hindus from all over India celebrate this festival by offering flowers, bael leaves (bel patta), vermillion (sindoor), ber (jujube fruit), fruits, water, milk, rice, incense, lamp, and so on to the Shivalinga in temples.
People also fast on this day to appease the lord. While some people observe the nirjala vrat (not eating or drinking anything the whole day), others eat non-cereal foods during the say. Certain foods are allowed during this all-day fasting ritual like sabudana (tapioca), fruits, potato dishes, milk & curd and so on. A variety of sabudana dishes like sabudana khichdi or sabudana vada, both of which are easy to make, are allowed. Sabudana kheer (a milk-based tapioca dessert) is another delicacy only for these special occasions like Mahashivratri.
Apart from this, aloo chaat with potatoes, tomatoes and cucumber, aloo ki sabzi (potatoes with gravy or without and without the use of turmeric), aloo shakarkandi (sweet potato) chaat, and so on can be some of the potato dishes one can try during fasting. Or simply make plain finger chips from diced potatoes.
Kuttu singhare ki roti, rajgira ki roti or poori and rajgira ladoos are also some of the fasting items for Mahashivratri made with special fasting flours. The local grocery stores stock up on these special items (kuttu singhara and rajgira) way in advance of festivals because they know that Hindus fasting on special days would create a demand for them.
Fruits and dry fruits are also consumed on Mahashivratri and, in fact, some people only survive on a fruit diet for the whole day and prefer not to eat anything else. Happy Mahashivratri 2018!
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