The year is divided into two parts — Uthrayana (day-time for God), where the sun is dominant, the air is dry and human beings tend to be weak. Dakshinayana (night-time for God), where the moon is clear, the earth is cool and human beings are stronger. The change of seasons affects a person’s mind and body, hence it is recommended to alter lifestyle, eating patterns and select foods according to the seasons.
Aadi is the beginning month of Dakshinayana (also the beginning of the festival season till January) and this month is considered the most auspicious month for God. “During Dakshinayana, the air becomes cool and the digestive system is stimulated. Appetite will increase and one can enjoy good nutritive foods during this season. Sweets made out of jaggery and sugarcane like kheer, sakkarai pongal can be consumed this month. Heavy fats like butter, ghee is good for health. Sour and salty dishes like Aadi koozh is also made during Aadi,” says Kavitha Shankar.
She adds that Aadi koozh is an important dish that has a soothing effect on the body. “Made with ragi, kezhvaragu, buttermilk, onion, green chillies, koozh is excellent for gut health. In most temples in the state, Aadi koozh is given as prasadam on the third Sunday of Aadi (this year, it will be on August 1). But in certain homes, they make Aadi koozh on any of the Sundays. Usually, the preparation for koozh starts on Friday because it needs to be fermented. Non-vegetarians eat koozh with dry fish. During the monsoon, we are more prone to air-borne diseases. Koozh helps fight against infectious diseases,” she shares.
Aadi perukku, which will fall in August this year, is one of the important festivals. People throng river basins and other water catchment areas to celebrate the festival. “Mixed rice dishes like lemon rice, tamarind rice, coconut rice, etc will be packed and taken to the river banks by devotees. After some rituals, they will eat the food together. Another important festival is Aadi Pooram — this day is also known as Andal Jayanthi. Akkaravadisal, a traditional dish made with rice, jaggery and milk, is made on Andal Jayanthi. Aadi Chevvai is a festival that’s celebrated in Tirunelveli. Manjal pongal is made and served on all Tuesdays during the Aadi season,” remarks Kavitha.