PETALING JAYA, April 14 — Beena Sudhakaran used to give her grandchildren the traditional Kaineettam (money) during previous Vishu celebrations.
Kaineettam is usually given by elders to the younger ones during the Malayali New Year, known as Vishu, as it signifies abundance of wealth and prosperity for the new year.
However, for this year’s festivities, she and her husband will be changing that tradition by giving them an okra or a cherry tomato seedling to plant and nurture instead.
Speaking to Malay Mail, she said that she saw the joy in her grandchildren’s faces when they were harvesting okra and cherry tomatoes and tasting them for the first time.
“My grandchildren would usually spend three days a week with us and are always eager to see my okra and cherry tomato plants.
“While my granddaughter is always eager to pluck the tomatoes especially when the colours change from green to orange, my grandson who is two, will always ask me when the okras will be ready to be cut.”
Vishu is celebrated today.
The Tamil community is also celebrating the new year today, known as Tamil Puthandu while Ugadi was celebrated yesterday by the Telugus.
The Bengali community celebrate their New Year tomorrow while the Sikhs are celebrating Vaisakhi today.
Planting their own vegetables struck them as a different experience as it meant that they were not getting the usual vegetables from the supermarket and will motivate them to nurture their saplings.
While one might think that Beena is the one with green fingers, it’s her husband who is the gardener of the house, and has many flowering plants.
“My husband Sivalal Sadasivan recently started a vegetable garden after being inspired by spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, who suggested planting one’s own vegetable garden to ensure one of a pesticide-free harvest.
“For this year’s Vishukkani (tray filled with auspicious items) my harvest such as okra and cherry tomatoes will be on the tray together with other fruits, hand-held mirror, new cloth, and gold ornaments.
“The Vishukkani symbolises abundance and my family and I hope that our hopes and thoughts are good that will also benefit the community for the year.”
Mango payasam to be served
If Sivalal has green fingers, it’s Beena who has mastered the art of cooking and even has her own creative twist to the Indian pudding, payasam.
While most people are familiar with the normal payasam made from vermicelli, green peas, or rice, Beena has experimented with mango payasam over the past few years after looking up the recipe online.
The mango payasam is made from ripe mangoes, jaggery, ginger, spices, milk, dried fruits and nuts.
“I looked up the recipe online and served it for an event some time ago and it turned out to be really delicious when I served it for an occasion some time ago.
“When making mango payasam, it is important to choose ripe mangoes, the ones that are extremely sweet.
“Or one can opt for getting a can of mango puree so that the delicacy is sweet enough already,” she said.
She will also be preparing a spread of vegetarian dishes consisting of pachadi (mango pickle) lime curry, banana chips, mashed pumpkin, avial (mixed vegetable curry), parappu (green peas) for lunch this year.