Any Kannadiga would split into a smile of recognition when he hears the phrase ‘Bevu Bella‘, or Ugadi Pacchadi in Telugu, or Maanga Pacchadi in Tamil. This is a dish to mark the advent of the New Year, in mid April – Ugadi or Puthandu.
At the peak of the Spring season, there are some important trees that burst into bloom and bear fruit. Important among these are the neem tree and the mango tree. Also, this is the time when a fresh season of sugarcane crop is harvested. To ensure that these trees and crops are protected through the ages, the custom of preparing and eating Maanga Pacchadi was introduced. Cleverly, a special significance was attached to it, as a story to aid people to remember the custom. The word rasa means two things: taste and emotion. Maanga Pacchadi is a preparation of the six rasas. It is made from:
- Neem buds or flowers for bitterness, signifying Sadness
- Jaggery and ripe banana for sweetness, signifying Happiness
- Green chili or pepper for the pungent or hot taste (I cant say hotness, now, can I? Hehe), signifying Anger
- Salt for saltiness, signifying Fear
- Tamarind for sourness, signifying Disgust
- Raw, unripe mango for its tang, signifying Surprise
Eating Maanga Pacchadi with the six tastes equally mixed together is a resolution to face every situation in your life with equanimity, and to overcome to individual emotions of sadness, happines,, anger, fear, disgust and surprise.
Strictly speaking, Bevu Bella is simply neem leaves with jaggery, but it is in the same spirit as Maanga Pacchadi. And, we like the pacchadi much better.
All the best making your own Maanga Pacchadi! Remember to tell your kids the significance behind it when you offer it to them. 🙂