It’s ‘Aati Amavasya’ and It’s Also Time for Paleda Kashaya & Menthe Ganji!
Mangaluru: Yes, Today, 20 July – It’s time for Paleda Kashaya and Metteda Ganji, as part of ‘Aati Amavasya’, which marks beginning of auspicious period for Hindus. ‘Aati Amavasya’ in Tulunadu or Deevige Karkataka Amavasya or Bhimana Amavasya is a festival celebrated in South India, in most parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It is celebrated on the new moon day (amavasya) of the Ashadha (Aati) month of the Hindu calendar. And early this morning devotees were seen near the medicinal tree ‘Pale Mara’ (Tulu) or Hale Mara (Kannada) known by botanical name as ‘Alstonia Scholaris’ also known as Blackboard tree, Devil tree, Milk Wood pine, White cheese Wood and Ditabark in the English language, peeling off chunks of its bark using a stone (no knife or sickle should be used) and later walk away to their residence and pound it to get the bitter juice “Paleda Kashaya” after adding some spicy ingredients and seasoning which is consumed by the members of the family in small quantities.
At the time where people talk about immunity boosters to fight pandemic, the coastal districts also referred as Tulunadu had its own immunity booster dose. Interestingly, it is taken only on a particular day of the year that is Aati da Amavasya and believed to be protecting an individual for the rest of the year. Paleda ketteda kashaya, a bitter Ayurveda concoction what it is called as, served each member of the family including new-born. This year it is taken on July 20. It is believed that Paale tree or devil’s tree bark has 108 numbers of medicinal properties on Aati da Amavasya or new moon day.
There are several other rituals to be followed to make the concoction or Kashaya. A day before the new moon, house elders go near the Pale tree, clean up the entire area, place betel leaves, areca, a sharp edged stone and they tie a rope around the tree. It is an age old tradition that bark has to be scrapped using only stone and no sickle or sharp metal weapons, which weakens medicinal values. The bark is collected during wee hours the next day. Sources also reveal that, it is also bizarre that house elders used to go naked near the tree to collect the bark for reasons unknown.
MENTHE GANJI (FENUGREEK CONGI)
Amavasya is the day of new moon occurrence in the sky, and any fortnight containing the new-moon is considered auspicious by Hindus. They believe that during this period, the offerings they make, reach their late forefathers and in return are showered with blessing. Signifies the beginning of auspicious period, and many pooja’s are performed to Hindu deity’s during this period seeking blessing.It is believed that on this day Shiva, the Lord of destruction in Hindu mythology is taken over by Parvathi’s devotion towards him and accepts her as his wife. Parvathi is considered by some schools of Hinduism as the supreme Divine Mother or Lordess and all other goddesses are referred to as her incarnations or manifestations.
Parvathi thus symbolizes many different virtues esteemed by Hindu tradition: fertility, marital felicity, devotion to the spouse, asceticism, and power. Hence it is believed if women abstain food on this day and offer prayers to Lord Shiva, Parvathi chastely an unmarried would seek a good virtuous husband and married would pray for their husband’s long life, success and happiness. Usually two idols are made using red mud clay, dried and decorated.One Idol depicts Lord Shiva and the other symbolizes Parvathi. Many devotees on this day take a sacred dip or bath in the sea here and strongly believe that with the blessings of Varaha Swami, all kind of skin diseases will immediately disappear.
According to the vernacular language of this region, “Aliyana Amavasye” means Amavasye of son-in-law. Therefore all the newlywed couples make it a point to visit this temple and have a holy dip or bath in the sea water. The darshan and blessing will give them a happy married life ahead with good health and wealth. One may wonder the reason behind the consumption of the bitter juice of this particular tree, that too on the new moon of the lunar month of Aati (Aati Amavasya). It is believed that this bitter syrup prepared from the liquid tapped out of Pale mara is said to have the power to ward off health problems till the next Aati. This is one of the important aspects of the Tulu folk culture and custom.
It is said that once a year before consuming any food in the morning at least a small portion of the juice of the bark of this tree should be consumed to be healthy from any type of bowel troubles. With the festival season soon to follow after the Aati month, people in general will be eating lots of other delicacies and tasty dishes which would strain the bowels. Hence, consuming the juice from the bark of this ‘Paleda mara’ would provide security from unwanted stomach ailments.
Besides the above reasons, the bark of Pale Mara is used for medicinal purposes ranging from Malaria and epilepsy to skin conditions and Asthama. In Ayurveda it is used as a bitter astringent herb for treating skin disorders, malarial fever, urticaria, chronic dysentery, diarrhea, in snake bite and for upper purification process of Panchakarma . The milky juice of the tree is applied to ulcers.
Regarding the ‘Pale Mara’ aka Alstonia Scholaris is a tropical tree that is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. On an average this tree grows up to 40 meters tall and its bark is greyish. The upper side of the leaves are glossy, while the underside is greyish. Leaves occur in whorls usually seven in number in one whorl. Hence, in Sanskrit this tree is also known as ‘Saptaparni’ (seven leaves). The bark contains alkaloids ditamine, echitenine and echitamine and used as an alternative to quinine. In Ayurveda the decoction and juice of the bark of this tree is recommended for stomach ailments. A decoction of the leaves was used for beriberi.
After consuming Pale Kashaya, to counter bitterness, jaggery/sugar is given and later Menthe Ganji or Fenugreek Conji is eaten to cool down the body. To counter bitterness, people in Tulunadu consume jaggery and to overcome heat, menthe ganji (conji made of fenugreek) is eaten after consuming the kashaya empty stomach. There is religious significance of Ati Amavasya especially in the Shiva temples situated in the Tulunadu such as those of Shree Karinjeshwara Temple at Karinja; Narahariparvata Bantwal; Kudroli Gokarnanatha Temple, Kadri Manjunatha temple; Maharaja Varaha Temple, Maravanthe; Koteshwara Temple, Kumbhasi Temple, Kundeshwara Temple, Shankaranarayana Temple and other places. Shiva devotees visit these temples in large numbers. It is learnt that in Shri Narahari Sadashiva Temple at Bantwal people take bath in four ponds known as Shanka, Chakra, Ghadha and Padhmakaara, with the belief that their sins would be washed away.
Very informative article about Aati Amavasya and the Tulu Nadu culture! We have a rich cultural heritage!
Thanks…. great info??
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