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Mar 29

Written by: Jennifer Kumar, Cultural Adjustment Coach
Monday, March 29, 2010

By Roopashri
Photos by Roopashri, click on photos for larger sizes
See this post written in Kannada with more photos here.

The main event of sankranti habba(festival) is exchange of eLLu bella, a home made sugar candy called sakkre(meaning sugar) acchu (meaning mould) along with fruits etc.
Recipe of eLLu bella here
Recipe of sakkare acchu here

My little girl holding the plate to go out and distribute ellu bella


In the evening the children in the house will be made to sit and a mixture of eLLu bella , ziziphus  berries called as elchi haNNu in kannada , pieces of sugarcane, coins are mixed and poured over their head and an aarathi is performed.  The neighbors are invited to participate in this ritual.  This is done to drive away the evil eye.

The reason behind using the elchi hannu is that these berries are red like the sun and round in shape like the sun. Thus it is believed that showering these on the kids will  give them sun lord’s blessings. These berries being unavailable here in US, I thought maybe I can use cherries or something else similar!!  Some people also decorate their kids with garlands made of Kusuri Kalu /Sesame seeds coated with sugar, such as this child in this photo.

But this being unavailable in USA, a friend of mine at whose place I celebrated festival this year made a garland of marshmallows to her son and my daughter.  

Similar tradition of sweet ball garland is seen in parts of north Karnataka too. Also the Marati people on ‘Gudipadwa’ which is the same as our ‘yugadi’ also deck the kids with sugar balls. Mrs. Mala Rao of Nandagokula blog told me about this. You can see her little son ‘Amatya krishna’ in jelly bean garland for yugadhi !! (Link to photo.)

My friend Archana showering the kids with a mixture of soaked
black channa, cashew, almonds, coins …..

We do only the red water(water mixed with kumkum) aarati to kids. But along with this my friend also had made lamps out of wheat flour to bless the kids!! Something unique and new ritual to me!!

Kids being blessed with wheatflour lamps...

Also my mother used to mention about a tradition called ‘Gombe ellu’ that’s she observed in a place called kalasa in Karnataka where she lived when she was a kid. There on the day of sankranti only the married women go out and distribute ellu bella amongst friends. The next day was meant for little gilrs and it was called ‘gombe ellu’.  The little girls would give ellu in small gombe(doll) shaped containers.  And then a friend of mine told me she is having ‘bombe ellu’ this time as she has a newborn at home this year!!  

My Sister in law who after marriage is residing in Hyderabad, Andhrapradesh and following many of the local customs told me that on the evening of first day of the festival they too shower  small kids with a mixture called as “Bhogi paLLu” (భోగి పళ్ళు) which includes soaked channa, pieces of sugarcane, berries called ‘regi pandlu in telugu’ and copper coins.

Now I knew why my friend archana had used soaked channa( as she too has telugu ancestory). She also told me that some houses do arrange dolls that day which is called as ‘bommala kolluvu’ She also told me that in certain parts of Andhra people use rice, other pulses, coins, flower petals etc. I found many such photos on Google when I searched for the word bhogi pallu! 

A friend of mine, Arati Anand has arranged her plate beautifully
with puffed rice, sugarcane pices and candies.


Whatever the differences in way of these celebrations, the main goal of each one us is to pary and wish for the well being of our lovely kids.


What great traditions shared by Roopashri and her friends! It's really interesting to find the ways of adjusitng to the new situations, and learning from others can create new traditions! Wonderful expressions of life, and cross-cultural integration of lifestyles, indeed!



Related Posts/Links:
Inspirational Ganapathi Idols by Roopashri and Friends
Sankranti: A Karnataka Perspective

The 'Bomalla Kolluvu' is a display of dolls on steps or in sceneries like villages. This is a tradition that is done in Tamil Nadu, also, a neighboring state to the South East, for Navarathri.
My photos and diary of Navarathri Golu
NRI Maami's Golu and other Indian traditions Expressed in America



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Copyright ©2010 Jennifer Kumar, LMSW Cultural Adjustment Coach/Mentor


2 comments so far...

Re: Ellu Bella - Sweet Exchange to Celebrate Sankranti Habba in Karnataka


By KEERTHI on   Monday, January 13, 2014

Re: Ellu Bella - Sweet Exchange to Celebrate Sankranti Habba in Karnataka


By KEERTHI on   Monday, January 13, 2014

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