The month of Adi begins next week. It is the season when many festivals are celebrated. The three major Hindu Festivals are —Krishna Jayanthi, Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam. Every Chennai Hotel, Restaurant and Sweetmeat maker will jump into the band wagon and advertise event-appropriate menus and mass availability of the special dishes associated with each festival. October opens with Navaratri in progress and heralds Ramzan The Ramzan Biriyani is nowadays being popularised in the papers with advance orders rushing in. Navaratri Sundal may also make an appearance in bulk. The untasted, special dishes of neivedhiyam, believed to be the favourites and offered to a deity are an important aspect of any puja or festival. Generally the dishes are made from ingredients available in plenty in that season. These special dishes used to be prepared at home on festival days, first offered to God after performing special rituals or puja and then the family would join to celebrate and eat a meal together. However, every festival was a tedious proposition for the lady of the house. She had to prepare the dishes on the same day of the puja after a ritual bath. The rice flour, an important ingredient in most dishes had to be soaked, dried and then pulverised. It used to be the mortar and pestle or the chakki/iyandram until the electric mixie helped to reduce the physical labour. Generally, the mistress of the household also had to draw the Kolams, make special preparations for the puja—cleaning ad arranging all the paraphernalia needed for the puja—and then the Lord of the household would come and perform the puja by himself or with a priest guiding him. The daily menu also had to be cooked and sweetmeats were exchanged with neighbours and family circles. So a special festival or puja day was laborious, tiring and full of tension. With women becoming part of the task force, preparing elaborate items is getting to be impossible. So the catering is now outsourced. In many families even festive lunches and dinners are being hosted in clubs hotels and restaurants –the virundu saapadu, the saddya or the iftar and Christmas parties. Festivals are now only an opportunity to wear fine new clothes, the ethnic ones at that, and to bring out the jewellery. The puja is now performed with minimum effort in homes that at one time used to be filled with the smell of flowers and incense, the sound of tinkling bells from the puja room and the anklets and silver toe rings of the ladies who hurried to and fro as they made preparations for the celebrations that has now become part of family history. Now are the times of instant coffee, two-minute soups, gym weight loss and good health and spiritual nirvana. So why not instant pujas performed with plastic packets of murukku, cheedai; fried kozhakattai/modaks, appam and laddus in sweet boxes; poly tubs full of adai pradaman and other Kerala payasams; and parcels of biriyani and kilos of sundal? Society is always in a flux. Every few years are so the old customs, traditions and rituals are discarded, amended or new ones adopted. The change is forged by circumstances, environment, experiences and influences from other societies and simply to make life interesting. I suppose that even the Gods want a change!