14th of January is celebrated as Makar Sakranti and is the day the Sun meets the Constellation of Capricorn ( Makar in Hindi) .
Makar Sakranti is the ONLY Hindu festival which is based on the Solar Calender and is celebrated across the country ,though assigned different names like Pongal in Tamil Nadu ( South India) and Uttarayan in Gujarat. ( Western India)
The day marks the beginning of an auspicious period and is celebrated with the distribution of sweets made of Jaggery ( Gud in hindi) and Sesame ( Til in Hindi) .
This blog is about Sesame ( English), Til ( Hindi), Sesamum Indicum ( Scientific Name) and I can think of no better day than Makar Sakranti to introduce this ancient tiny seed to you.
The picture below shows the arid farmlands of this traditionally attired farmer of Rajasthan who has recently harvested his crop of Sesame oilseeds.
His White Turban and manner of wearing it indicate he belongs to the Nature Worshiping community of Bishnois.(do read my blog on THE BLACK BUCKS)
The proud Bishnoi farmer and the Sesame fields
The Sesame plant is the oldest oilseed known to man and the species Sesamum Indicum is native to India.
The Sesame plant is extremely hardy and can survive in the arid and parched desert like climate of Rajasthan. ( see the sandy soil in the picture above)
The photograph below is of a bushel of dried Sesame plants ,each carrying numerous tiny seeds carefully packed by Nature in fruits which resemble capsules.
A closer look shows the Enchanting Power Packs of Sesame Oil seeds.The Sesame fruits ( in the picture) consists of 4 Packs which burst open to release the seeds on maturity.
The seeds of the Sesame plant have the highest content of nutritious oil in any seed known to man.
Is it then a Wonder that they are today included in almost every cuisine known to Man.
The little off white ( or black) seeds on Buns and the sides of Sushi are none other than Sesame Seeds.
The 4 power pack capsules of the Sesame Plant are ready to burst from the tip and are thus harvested before they can disperse their valuable oil seeds.
The tiny Sesame seeds are a SUPERFOOD and pack an array of Proteins,Vitamins Minerals , Oils and dietary fiber.
The Ancient Indians knew the nutritional value of the Power Packed Sesame Seeds and thus intertwined them with religious festivals like Makar Sakranti to ensure the population at large remain healthy.
Next time you eat a Hamburger , do look at the tiny white seeds that adorn the Crown of the Buns.
So friends, Wishing you a Happy Makarsakranti and remain healthy with Til ( Sesame) Gud ( Jaggery) . Til for health and Gud for sweet words and deeds.