Festivals,  Heritage

Satuani: A ritual to mark the beginning of summer

Although I originally belong to Bihar, I did not grow up there. So I’m always on the lookout- trying to gather little details of the unique customs and traditions of the place. On Friday, that is on the 13th of April, I heard a new word- Satuani. And here’s what I discovered about it.

Satuani is a ritual celebrated in Bihar to mark the entry of the Sun into Aries (Mesha) according to the Hindu calendar. It occurs between the months of Chaitra and Baisakh, and actually marks the beginning of the hot summer. If you look at several celebrations of new year across the country (Tamil, Bengali, Odia) they all began on 14 or 15 April. So Satuani is celebrated around the last day of the year.

So, how is this day celebrated? Well, the day starts with a dip in the holy Ganges. Then offerings are made to the poor- usually earthen pots. The name Satuani comes from ‘sattu’ or roasted chickpea flour which is traditionally offered and eaten on this day. The other items on the plate are usually green mango kairi, raw onions, cucumbers, chillies, jaggery or mango chutney. Now all this seems so logical as all these are great summer coolers and perfect for the blazing Indian heat which will follow. That reminds me of the Sattu drink which you must try- it can be either savoury or sweet. And these days it is touted as a health drink. So do try it.

Sadly these days we need the advertising potential of the multimillion dollar health industry to tell us to try traditional food which was the obvious healthy option. Then it was considered food for the local impoverished people. Now it is expensive food for the health conscious!

(Photo courtesy: Alpesh Gaurav: Instagram handle: @alpesh_gaurav.1)

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