The beautiful full moon is the representation of completeness, and beauty, while the new moon talks of new beginning and anticipation.

The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves, always there steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, it is forever changing like we are. Everyday it is a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan sometimes strong and full of light.  It is so like the humans, uncertain, alone, and cratered by imperfection.

If you think about it, the moon does not fight. It does not attack, the moonlight is gentle and soothing it keeps to its course but its very nature it gently influences so much that it can pull an entire ocean from shore to shore… the moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.

When Hemanta gives the baton to Shishira the amavasya of the month of Pausha becomes relevant it marks the transit of seasons, it also marks the journey of the sun from the southern hemisphere to the northern.

This new moon is honoured as the “Yellamavasya” in the Tulu culture. It is almost a ritual for people to go to Vadapandeshwara temple. A temple where final rites are usually done. This is one of the few temples dedicated to Balarama.  People bathe either in the river or in the sea and offer rice and til as ritual offerings.

Til is the hero of the season.

Til is believed to be very special because it is supposed to have sprouted from Vishnu’s sweat, these seeds are apparently blessed by Yama the God of death which makes it the symbol of immortality. Mythology also has it that this was the day the ritual offering to the heroes who were martyred in Mahabharata was performed. These heroes are still honoured by families placing the tarpana or offering of til and rice to ancestors on sea or river banks.  This offering is eaten by the family.

Sesame or Til seeds particularly the black one is believed to ward away negativity from the houses.

Yellamavasye is also an agrarian festival where mother earth is thanked for the abundance of food. Jaggery and sesame seeds are spread on the fields as thanks giving and replenishing the nutrients lost to the crops. 

Sesame that is Til is used a lot in the winter recipes since it is rich in nutrients and yet keeps the digestive system healthy. Thil is rich in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, thiamine, zinc, copper, it is also rich in Vitamin B6 and other anti-oxidants. It reduces arthritic pain and swelling.

Black til is believed to relieve the house of negative energy.

The winter recipes tend to be rich in the use of sesame seeds. This is because it keeps the digestive system healthy.

In the south yellu-beerudu is an event that roasted sesame seeds with jaggery and dried diced coconut is shared between friends. The maharashrian greeting goes “til-gul gya god bhola” may your words be as sweet as the sesame and jaggery.

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