“While the country is grappling with COVID 19 crisis, many families are busy in the preparations for the year-long mango pickles,” was a message that I received on WhatsApp a few days back. After reading the message, I felt “why not?” Yes, I am optimistic and always hopeful for a better tomorrow. Growing up, the summer season was the one thing I looked forward to the most. My cousins and I would spend most of our holidays at our grandparents’ home, squinting under the sun, playing cricket and watching the tamarind trees shimmering, declaring the arrival of summer. On the other side, sitting around heaps of raw mangoes freshly plucked from these trees, our mothers, aunts, uncles and neighbours exchanged juicy bites of family gossip. And the important part was the making of different varieties of Avakaya pacchadi (mango pickle). Those memories are priceless and indescribable, to be honest!
While this year’s summer arrived with a pall of coronavirus-induced gloom and lockdown, the spirit of making traditional Avakaya pickle at home, continued in our home. Even though we were hesitant initially, we finally decided to go ahead in making the process of Avakaya pacchadi. The reason was to send the pickle to my younger brother and few friends who are staying abroad.
This year, I helped my mother in making the Avakaya pacchadi by cutting the raw mangoes and that’s the most satisfying feeling ever. What used to be a solo ritual turned into a family bonding exercise and I’m grateful that I was able to spend some quality time with amma to enjoy these activities. Sadly, the art of pacchadi preparation is on the verge of extinction with nuclear families racing against time to meet deadlines at their workplace. However, Aavakai pacchadi continues to be the hot favourite for everyone and I just hope this tradition continues among future generations too!”
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