51, Yaksha, Ashtavinayak Nagar, Nanded. This is the place where I grew up. We moved here from Solapur when I was 6 years old. While we were away at Solapur, my uncle was in charge of the construction of the house and he did a wonderful job! There is a big play ground in front of my house where we used to play every day in the evening. All important functions in the neighborhood were held on this ground so this place was the most happening place for us. In one corner of the playground was the temple of Lord Ganesh. My father has always wished for a temple nearby our house and it seems that when he bought this house he had seen the empty block in front of the house and has inquired about that. He was told the neighborhood was planning to build a temple on that block as the neighborhood was named after Lord Ganesh.
When I was in 6th standard we again moved to other place due to my father’s job and in 1996 we were back to Nanded permanently. By this time the temple construction was complete and the statue of Lord Ganesh was placed in the temple. Every day people used to visit the temple to worship and say prayers.
According to Hindu tradition, the 4th day after full moon is an auspicious day and called as Sankashti Chaturthi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sankashti_Chaturthi) On this day we go to the temple and offer fried sweet dumpling to the God. These dumplings are made of all-purpose flour covers filled with sweet stuffing of coconut, sugar and dry fruits. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modak. They taste really yummy. Every month on this day people visit the temple. A lot of people started to visit the temple in our neighborhood. They would buy flower garland, durva (it is a type of grass), coconut and sweet dumplings and offer it to the God. After moon rise we perform some rituals and offer sweet dumpling. After 2-3 months I realized that my mother was not very happy. Something was eating her mind. One day out of nowhere she said,” There are no sweet dumplings for the people who visit the temple or sometimes there are no sweet dumplings for the Lord Ganesh. So from next month onwards we will make 1001 sweet dumplings…” what 1001 dumplings? We didn’t think my mom was serious about this…but yes she was! Neither we nor my mom knew what was in store for us next month…. 🙂
Our first attempt to make 1001 dumpling was disastrous! We are six people in my family so mom thought we will have enough people to make dumplings and they will be over in 2-3 hours. Therefore at 5 o’clock we started to make dumplings as moon rise was around 9 pm. As time was passing by we realize that it was an impossible task!!! We hardly finished 200 dumplings in 3 hours. My mom was really upset. That day she did not eat. We offered 200 dumplings to the Lord Ganesh and decided that we will make remaining ones tomorrow morning. Thus we ended up doing dumplings for two complete days. This was our first attempt to make such a big number of dumplings and everything that can go wrong went wrong. We failed on every aspect of making dumpling starting from time management, anticipating how much raw material we will use and the size of the dumpling. But my mom didn’t stop there… she made a list of things that went wrong… she figured out that if we want to make 1001 dumplings we need more people and planning ahead of time.
Next month, she used her all resources to make this thing happen. She called her friends and we called our friends. We were a team of 10 people now. She prepared all the raw materials a day ahead. On that day after breakfast we started making dumplings around 10 am. We formed an assembly line where everyone was given a specific task to perform. One person made stuffing, other made covers of all-purpose flour and other group shared the task of making dumplings. My mom fried all of them and before moon rise we were ready with the dumplings… we felt such a relief!!! Next few days we distributed the dumplings to everyone in the neighborhood, all my friends and my parents’ friend and all people who helped us to make this happen.
After that for several years my mom and her team successfully made these dumplings. Sometimes depending on the availability of people we would take 5-6 hours to make dumpling. Then another hurdle was waiting for her…few years later, I moved to Aurangabad for my engineering, my sister moved to Pune for her post-graduation and some of my friends got married. My mother was feeling short of help again. Mom had injured her spinal cord in an accident and doctor had advised her not to sit or bend her back for prolong periods. There was one sweeter problem… 🙂 My sister lives in Mumbai and at that time my niece was 1-2 year old so parents and my bother in law, Shantanu’s parents used to take turns to be with my niece and help my sister. So it was becoming impossible to make those fried dumplings. Now my mom was facing entirely different problem…and as usual she came up with another brilliant idea. In India, we get a sweet called pedha. It is a milk fudge which can be bought in sweet stores. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3cDZAVeeak she started to make dumplings from this pedha now her preparation time was saved and with the help of my father she was making dumplings in 2-3 hours!!!
I must confess when I was a kid, I never understood my mom’s feeling behind these dumplings… and because of the work related to it I often got angry with her. I used to help her only because I loved her. Now when I look back to those days I admire my mom more… she taught me an important message that no matter how hard the situation is one must find their way through!… and for me, those sweet dumplings have become a symbol for determination!!!