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My sweet Lord

What with Hindu gods sporting a collective sweet tooth, most homes are always well-stocked with sweets in their prasad avatar.

india Updated: May 22, 2006 00:58 IST

What with Hindu gods sporting a collective sweet tooth, most homes are always well-stocked with sweets in their prasad avatar. The task of buying these sweets for puja quite often falls on me. My mother gives only one short brief: ‘It should be fresh’. That leaves a pretty wide ambit. So over the years, I have greatly influenced what gods in my house want to eat. Do I need to add that the batasha tribe of prasad finds itself integrated into chutneys and the like, while three to four times a week, the offering of mithai is what captures my imagination and my nephew’s attention?

Of course, I know that it’s really lemon meringue that Hanuman wants me to procure every Tuesday. But alas, mom still believes that gods are vegetarian. I have no idea where she got that notion from. And to be honest, I wouldn’t risk the gods to partake of stuff that local bakeries produce. Non-posh Delhi hasn’t quite got the hang of confectionery. As for posh Delhi, they want to make money out of good food, which completely takes away the ‘soul’ from the home-baked appeal of good confectionery. And if you don’t step out of the country as often as you’d like to, then there’s so much of Lindt that you can offer the gods. So, it usually boils down to what’s available in the market and a mental ticking off of what one doesn’t want to eat that decides what the gods get to bless.

When one tires of the kaju barfis and the gulab jamuns and the rest of what North India has to offer, I stop by at Bengali sweet shops, a pleasant alternative. In fact, nowadays, as summer approaches, the gur flavour gives way to lemon-flavoured stuff. As you may have guessed, I love anything lemon-flavoured — and hence do our gods. So, of late, I’ve been gunning for the lemon-flavoured sandesh — summer the only season when they make it.

But I guess the gods have tired of the flavour and want me to switch. Because God only knows what prompted me to ask the sweaty young boy who was packing lemon sandesh for me, “So why don’t you make this lemon thing all year round?” “Didi, lemon is best in summer. Sweets don’t last in this heat, so whatever’s left over at the end of the day gets rolled into one mass. Then it’s the lemon essence that masks any hint of, you know, anything, uh, going, uh, bad.” A good reader of expressions, he quickly added, “But not in our shop, I can assure you.”

Dear God, tell me what you want to eat. Quickly.

First Published: May 22, 2006 00:58 IST