My informant was raised in the United States, but identifies strongly with her Indian heritage. She is of the Brahman sect and Telugu nationality. This particular tradition is performed during Telugu New Year, which is usually around April. She says that she has never made this particular ritual food herself, but has eaten it since she was a child. As she says,
“There’s this kind of ceremonial food you eat every year for New Year’s. It has five different parts, and each part has a different taste. They all symbolize the five sentiments and emotions you’ll be feeling in the coming year; sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, sour. Salt is for fear, red chili pepper is for anger, neem flowers are for sorrow, tamarind or lemon juice is for mischief, and honey or sugar is for sweetness. New Year is called ‘Ugadi,’ and the food is called ‘ugadi-pacchidi.'”
I thought this tradition was really fascinating, mostly because the symbolism of each piece can be easily explained to an outsider. I am not familiar with Indian culture, and it was very interesting to sit down with my informant and ask her about specific things that she and her family do during holidays and festivals. This tradition also makes a lot of sense, and the symbolism is very meaningful. Indian culture uses food for a lot of different things, as we discussed in class, and the story behind this particular Ugadi ritual food makes me want to partake in the celebration.
Annotation: “Telugu association celebrates Ugadi.” India Abroad (New York, NY) 34.29 (2004): C2. Print.