The festival of celebrating the harvest, Sankranti is here and people in Bengaluru have found a digital way to distribute the mandatory delicacy – Ellu Bella.
Coronavirus pandemic, lockdown, curfew have all changed or modified the whole living style of people across the globe. Though initially it was all horror and scare where holding on to dear life was more important, the prolonged pandemic situation has forced people to go on with life parallel to virus and its mutations. Festivals are those times when the entire family, community, or village come together and celebrate with joy. This joy is forcing people to dare to crowd despite shooting positive numbers.
But, gradually alternate ‘safe’ ways to keep up with the traditions are coming up and people are happily embracing them. The festival of celebrating the harvest, Sankranti is here and people in Bengaluru have found a digital way to distribute the mandatory delicacy – Ellu Bella.
The Ellu Bella
Ellu-bella translates into sesame and jaggery. A mixture of finely chopped jaggery, copra or dry coconut, finely roasted and peeled groundnut, roasted gram and white sesame is a very special delicacy that is prepared for Sankranti alone in Karnataka and few other parts of South India. All the ingredients are sun-dried to increase their shelf life. Families painstakingly prepare them days before the festival. Another sugar candy in various shapes of fruits, flowers, animals, birds and every form named ‘Sakkare Achchu’ (Sugar mould) is also prepared for Sankranti.
Every Kannadiga household prepares ellu bella and sakkare achchu to not just enjoy themselves but lots to distribute amongst friends, family and neighbors. It’s an act of bonding over sweets. A small piece of sugarcane and a banana with small pouches or boxes filled with ellu-bella and a piece of cute sakkare achchu is distributed among people.
Little girls and boys decked up in their best traditional attire holding baskets filled with packets of these things and visiting every home they know to distribute is a very common and beautiful sight in several parts of Karnataka even to this day. Those kids come back with their basket full even after distributing all that their mother packed and sent- because the house which they visited would have returned a similar package, the one that they prepared. It’s basically an exchange of laughter, love and blessings that come with these traditions.
With covid scenario visiting other’s houses are not advisable. Also, many families celebrate Sankranti on 15th Jan, which is Saturday. In Bengaluru, weekend curfew is still on given the increased number of cases. Hence stepping out of house and visiting another, especially kids is a complete no.
Enter online. Few places that sell homemade ellu bella and sakkare achchu have turned themselves into distributing agents as well. Kalpavruksha organics in Vidyaranyapura, Bengaluru began this last year when the second wave was shooting high. Say, you want to distribute ellu bella to 10 friends who live in different parts of Bengaluru. You will have to place an order of your desired quantity of each delicacy and provide the address on call. Make your payments through UPI and the neatly packed ellu bella reaches your friend’s place via various delivery partners. Just like how online weddings have become normal, this new facility has become an instant hit with people who don’t want to let go of the traditions.
Half a kg of this delicacy costs Rs 150 and the store has already sent across more than 100 kgs until now. There are last-minute bookings happening. “We started this last year since we could see how much people missed celebrating Sankranti and distributing ellu bella. This became an instant hit and we were sold out in no time. This year we have prepared more quantities compared to last year and looking at the speed of orders, we might just be sold out soon” said Vani Anand, owner, Kalpavruksha Organics.
“I was wondering how to send the Sankranti delicacies to my relatives. I never miss visiting them on festivals. Though we all stay in Bengaluru, the COVID-19 scenario has made it completely unsafe for us to visit each other. When I learned about this online ellu-bella distribution thing, I jumped for the offer. My relatives have already received the package and all are happy that they can enjoy it just like earlier times. We have all planned to connect on video call on festival day and hog on to the sweets just like earlier times, together” said Meghana Rohith, a software engineer.
Celebration and togetherness are something all festivals teach. With changing times, newer methods have encouraged people to go with the flow and hold to that thread of tradition in whichever way possible.