“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the nation and its destiny.”—South African proverb
This poignant proverb shows the importance of a mother’s role in life. Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world on May 11. In the U.S. and much of Europe however, it falls on the second Sunday of May, while England celebrates Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent. In Argentina, it is the second Sunday in October.
Did you know that the earliest celebration honoring mothers dated back to the annual spring festival of ancient Greece dedicated to Rhea, the Mother of the Gods? The Greeks would pay tribute to their mothers with honey-cakes and fine drinks and flowers at dawn. (Much like the current Mother’s Day tradition of breakfast in bed!) Early Christians celebrated it by honoring Virgin Mary. In England, an ecclesiastical order expanded the holiday to include all mothers, and decreed it as Mothering Sunday. Servants were given a day off to return home and spend the day with their respective mothers.
When the first English colonists settled in America they didn’t really have time for many celebrations. The tradition of Mothering Sunday was discontinued until Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), the author of the lyrics, Battle Hymn of the Republic, organized a day for mothers and dedicated it to peace. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made an official proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May as a national holiday as a tribute to motherhood.
To me, Mother’s Day is very significant. As a young girl I used to love making art and craft objects at home. Once, I cut out several heart shapes from color paper and stuck them on a heart- shaped cardboard. Then I pasted “Happy Mother’s Day” cutouts from felt material. I sneaked into my mother’s bedroom at midnight and placed it under her pillow. She loved it so much that she was in tears! She never liked breakfast in bed though, since she would be up early in the morning for the ritual of morning walks.
If I am confident today and deeply rooted in my “Indian-ness,” I owe it to my parents, who have infused me with fundamental values in the art of living. It may seem a paradox, but my mother has been a hard task-master as well. For she is soft yet firm, loving yet tough. In fact, she can be an enigma, even inscrutably mysterious at times. Yet, she is such an inspiration not just to me but many of my age.
Recently she moved to Chennai, India, after living in Singapore for over 20 years. I must have my regular diet of phone calls and e-mails to reiterate that she will always remain my moral compass, companion, and confidant. While others may offer roses, cards and gifts to celebrate their mothers, I wish to dedicate this write up in her honor and cook her favorite, Wheat flour laddoos,and share them among mothers and mothers-to-be. I love them! You and your mothers would love them too. It is easy and quick to make. Go ahead and try your hand. Here is a list that you may want to stack up before making them.
2½ cups whole-wheat flour (atta)
1 cup gram flour (besan)
1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
½ cups semolina (sooji
2 cups sugar
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup cold milk
Heat clarified butter or ghee in a big saucepan.
Add raisins and chopped almonds. Keep stirring till the raisins and nuts turn golden in color. Set them aside.
Mix the first four ingredients. Roast until the mixture is golden brown. Add the fried raisins and almonds to this mixture.
Remove the mixture from the cooking range and add cold milk to the mixture.
When the mixture is cold add the sugar and roll them tightly into balls.
Don’t worry if you cannot control the mixture in your hands. Rolling the mixture into balls is a skill that can be improved over time! One can make 35-40 laddoos from this recipe. By the way, this recipe is supposed to be excellent source of nutrition for pregnant and lactating mothers. Hope you savor a sweet Mother’s Day!