Shravan…. A Holy Month
Shravan or Saawan is the holiest month in the Hindu Calendar. Many Hindus fast for the whole of the Shravan Maas or month. Different Hindu Communities begin the fast on different dates. Some begin the fast immediately after Guru Purnima and some later on in the month. This holy month then culminates with Raksha Bandhan, a festival where the sisters tie a rakhi or thread on the wrists of their brothers. Some people fast the whole month i.e. every day for the whole month and some fast every Monday of this holy month and are called the Shravan Somvar Vrat.
Why is this month so important to the Hindus? According to the Hindu Mythology, when the Gods and Demons churned the Ocean (Samudra Manthan) many precious gems came out but also poison came out from it in the month of Shravan. This poison would have destroyed everything. However none of the Gods or Demons wanted to deal with the poison. Lord Shiva came to the rescue, he swallowed the poison and kept it in his throat, which turned blue. So thus his is also known as Neel Kanth… the blue throat. This way Lord Shiva saved the world and therefore Shravan month is auspicious and many Hindus conduct poojas, and chant the holy name of Lord Shiva.
Different communities fast in different ways. Some consume only fruits and dairy products… no salt, no grains or vegetables. Some observe the fast by consuming only certain types of vegetables like root vegetables, but no onion and garlic. They do not consume grains but only tapioca pearls (sabudana), samo, amaranth, water chestnut, quinoa, buckwheat etc. Ans some observe the fast by taking only one regular meal. Devotees are encouraged to visit the temples and offer flowers, bilipatra and panchamrut to the Shiv Ling. They also have to chant the Mrityunjay Mantra.
However one is encouraged to chant this mantra not only during the month of Shravan but everyday. It basically means:
“We worship the three-eyed one who is fragrant, and who sustains all living beings. May he liberate us from (Samsara) death. May he (Lord Shiva) lead us to immortality, just as the cucumber is released from its bondage.”
The FoodieMonday/Bloghop group’s 101th theme is #Saawan Vrat Speciality or Shravan Vrat Speciality. This theme was chosen by Poonam, a new member to the group and blogs at Annapurna.
When she suggested the theme, I was all excited. For Gujaratis Shravan is the tenth month. Many just fast on Mondays and others fast by eating only one regular meal but without any onions and garlic and strictly no meat, fish or alcohol should be consumed during this month.But most Gujaratis will fast the whole month by consuming farali food. That means no grains and legumes are consumed. As you may know Gujjus love their food and fast also in style:) During this month several important fastings are observed and rituals followed. Read about it here.
I wanted to make some farali handvo for this theme. However, my joy was short lived as in Montreal I was not able to find samo, rajgira and sabudana. I had to put on my thinking hat again and finally decided on an ultra healthy treat. Not so Gujju but modern Gujjus may love to consume these energy balls or laddoos during any fast. These energy balls or laddoos have not added sugar, are vegan and without any added fat.
DATE COCONUT ENERGY BALLS
Makes 16-18 balls
1 cup pitted dates, lightly pressed (I used 18)
1 cup mixed nuts (cashew nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios etc)
½ cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
extra desiccated coconut for coating
- Put the nuts in a food processor and process them till the nuts are chopped into a coarse powder.
- Add the dates, orange juice, orange zest and coconut and process till the mixture comes together like a paste.
- Take about a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball.
- Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Roll each ball in the coconut till its coated.
- Put the balls in the fridge for an hour or so.
- Serve. Put the remaining balls in an airtight container and store in the fridge.
- Its best to use medjool dates or any other soft sugarless dates.
- Adds nuts of your choice.
- If you don’t like orange flavour then add milk or water instead of the juice and add vanilla extract instead.
- Great naturally sweet treat even when not fasting.
You may want to check out other fasting recipes: