History of Lord Ganesha’s Favourite Modak

Shendur Laal Chadhaayo Achchhaa Gajamukha Ko
Dondil Laal Biraaje Sut Gaurii Har Ko
Hath Liye Gud Laddu Saaii Survar Ko

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi 2017 to all of you. Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were initiated by the great Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to promote culture and nationalism. It has continued since then. It is believed that Lord Ganapati was the family deity of the Peshawas. Lokmanya Tilak had popularized this festival to bridge the gap between Brahmins and Non-Brahmins. It is usually celebrated in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Goa with much excitement.

Bappa’s birth anniversary celebrations usually last for 10 days. People install idols in their homes or in big pandals. The first day is the isthapna and the last day is visarjan. The one thing that remains in common through this time is the offering of various sweets and savouries to the deity—the most common is modak which is the people’s favourite! Ganesh Chaturthi is never complete with our favourite modaks with a little drizzle of ghee. Modak is also known as Kozhakattai in Tamil, Modhaka or Kadubu in Kannada and Kudumu in Telugu. Hindu mythology tells us that Bappa was fond of eating sweets and one of this was one of his favourites as well, earning him the moniker Modakpriya (one who likes modak). As per the rituals, 21 modaks are offered to the Lord Gajanan as bhog and eventually served as prasad to all the devotees.

Ukadiche Modak
Ukadiche Modak | Photo Courtesy

Modaks are steamed or fried dumplings made from rice flour, wheat flour or maida. The filling of these dumplings include grated coconut and jaggery. Steamed modaks are also known as Ukadiche Modak and are slathered with hot ghee before savouring it.

The story goes that Anusuya (wife of Atri, an ancient Rishi) invited Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, along with Lord Ganesha, to visit her and give her their blessings. Lord Ganesha was served food from different places with different flavours and textures, but nothing was able to sate his hunger. All this was being witnessed by Lord Shiva who was waiting patiently to eat as he was also starving. Ganpati ate whatever he was being served, but still felt hungry. Finally, Anusuya thought of serving something sweet to Lord Ganesha and she served him modaks which finally made his stomach full, and he burped, satisfied. Interestingly, Lord Shiva and Ganesha burped for 21 times to prove that they are done eating food. This incident made Parvarti very curious as to what exactly Anusuya served, and she learned about modaks.

According to Padma Purana there is another interesting story regarding why Ganesha loves modak. Once the Devas (demi gods) came to visit Shiva and Goddess Parvati and presented them a divine modak. It was a very special modak and the person who ate it was supposed to become knowledgeable in all scriptures, science, art and writing. Goddess Parvati wanted to present it to her sons – Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartik. But the brothers were not ready to share it. So a confused Goddess Parvati finally stated that whoever among them proved the true meaning of sincerity and devotion would get the sweet.

Modak Recipe
Talalele Modak (Fried Modak)

Lord Kartik immediately mounted his Vahana, or vehicle, and started visiting all the spiritual places. But Lord Ganesha went around Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, stating that no amount of offerings or fasting or visiting sacred places is equal to the devotion to one’s father and mother. Impressed by Lord Ganesha’s explanation, Goddess Parvati gave him the modak. This is believed to be the reason for Lord Ganesha’s love for this delicacy.

If now you are craving for some modaks then you should check out a very old and classic recipe by Sanjeev Kapoor.

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