The MarketPlace artisans recently celebrated Dassera, which marked the end of the 9-night festival of Navratri. While these are Hindu holidays, all the artisans like to celebrate together, learning about one another’s traditions and customs. Even among Hindus, Dassera is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India and among different castes and communities. At the cooperatives, everyone enjoyed celebrating together a symbolic new beginning and the victory of good over evil.
In India, this is the beginning of the harvest season, so people pray for the land to regain its vigor and fertility for another year. It also marks the end of the summer heat and the start of cooler weather. Dassera is considered an auspicious day to start new ventures. People put tools, writing instruments, trucks, household articles and children’s school books out to be blessed, so that they can be part of a new year of success. At MarketPlace Mumbai the artisans decorated the cutting machinery and prayed to the Mother Goddess for good luck, and the Nirmaan cooperative asked a blessing for their sewing machines and celebrated with special sweets.
A puja ceremony asks the goddess for good luck and prosperity in all the artisans’ new endeavors.
Artisans enjoy special holiday treats.
A flower-decorated sewing machine, ready to be blessed.
The children of the artisans also joined in the celebration.
Special foods are always a welcome part of the festivities as people enjoy a variety of sweets and rice dishes. Here is a simple but delicious recipe for lemon rice, one of Dassera’s treats:
2 cups rice, vegetable oil, 3 lemons, Curry leaves, ½ tsp. Black mustard seeds, ½ tsp. saffron
Cook the rice. In a pan, heat the oil and put in mustard seeds. After they pop, add curry leaves (available at India groceries) and saffron powder. Remove from heat and add juice of 3 lemons. Pour over rice and mix. (Can garnish with sliced green chilies, chopped cilantro, or chopped peanuts.)