Of Vepampoo and Konna poo
New year is a time of celebration and there’s always a last-minute rush to the departmental stores and vegetable market to get everything required to create the grand feast of the day. The hunt is on this time of the year for the freshest of ingredients and the scrumptious of vegetables. There’s also another hunt that’s on, for one of the most important “ingredients” of the season — the two varieties of flowers without which the day would mean a little less. While Tamilians rush to grab their fistfuls of neem flower or vepampoo, Keralites scout around for the elusive konna poo or cassia fistula, which is becoming more difficult to find. Both are symbols of spring and signify luck and prosperity. Vepampoo is used to make raw mango pachady — a mix of mango, jaggery syrup and neem flower, a staple for New Year, to wish family members a year that’s sweet, sour and bitter. Konna poo is used to create the ‘Vishu kani’ or puja platter for the day, which is the first thing members of the family are made to see in the morning, to signify the hope of prosperity through the year.