Tamil Nadu, especially the cities along the Kaveri Delta with their magnificent temples built by the Pandyas, the Cholas, the Pallavas, and the Maratha rulers. Defined by towering gopurams, artistically carved pillars, and massive corridors, these places fill your mind with a sense of tranquility.
Take for example the Navagraha temples—dedicated to each of the nine celestial bodies (and deities) in Hinduism and Hindu astrology, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and the ascending and descending lunar nodes—around the ancient temple town of Kumbakonam. Located approximately 40 kms away from Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, which means ‘pot’s corner’ in English, is home to over 80 temples including the Adi Kumbeswar temple, a Shiva temple, and the Sarangapani temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
The Navagraha temples and the nine planets is said to have an impact on a person’s happiness, success, and overall prosperity. People from across the country are drawn to these temples in the hope to fix the fault in their stars. Faith aside, our attention was drawn to the timeless architecture and the unique temple prasadam at the Suryanar Kovil Temple (sun god temple). We’ve all heard of the sakkarai pongal or the sweet pongal. But, how many have heard of the one made with broken wheat? Very few, we’re positive!
In a conversation with the priest at the Suryanar Kovil Temple, for his show Dakshin Diaries Rakesh Raghunathan discovered that the broken wheat sakkarai pongal is first offered to sun god, after the Kala Sandhi Puja, and later, as prasadam to devotees. As to why broken wheat or dalia replaces rice, the temple priest said, “The Sun God (Lord Pushan) doesn’t have teeth.” According to a narrative found in the Taittiriya Samhita (Yajur Veda), Rudra (Lord Shiva) was not invited to a yagna (a sacrifice ritual) hosted by King Daksha, his father-in-law. Angered by Daksha’s bias, he shot an arrow to disrupt the yagna. It was exactly at this point that lord Pushan attempted to eat a part of the yagna. Shiva’s arrow hit him right in the mouth and his teeth shattered completely.
Here is the recipe for the Wheat Shakkarai Pongal shared by Sandial, temple cook at Suryanar Kovil temple:
In a pan, roast a portion of broken wheat and simultaneously heat water in another pot.
Once the wheat is roasted, add it to the pot of boiling water and let it cook.
When the wheat is semi-cooked, add jaggery and stir until it melts.
Once cooked, pour some ghee into the wheat and jaggery mixture.
Add crushed green cardamoms, raisins and cashews and mix well.
Your wheat sakkarai pongal is ready!
Here's a sneak peek of the show:
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