But sadly, not one of the Calcutta shops are using PURE DATE PALM GUR. I know this because it is my life's mission to make Khejur Gur into a viable proposition. I have devoted my entire life to this end. Even the WB govt. promoted tubes etc. of Khejur gur are significantly adulterated with cane, and our non-profit can prove this with lab tests. The purest WB govt. approved product, sold at airports, etc. is only 70% Date gur.
We challenge any group to prove us wrong. Like pure maple syrup, pure khejur gur is expensive for all manner of reasons. Today, artificial flavorants, BOLEN [ 2 ml/kg chana] are selling like crazy in Calcutta. Who is buying them? And why is so-called "khjeur gur" beiung purchased by these confectioners at less than Rs.150-200 per palla, or 5kg wholesale? Cannot happen! Khejur sap is 8-14% sucrose, and roughly 8-10 kg sap is needed per 1 kg gur of 65Brix, and more for Patali or solid gur. 1 kg sap is sold for Rs.10-20. Do the maths, add in fuel costs for boiling, profits for tapper, middleman, etc. Rs.350-400 is break-even at bare subsistence for nolen gur, and Rs.1200 is the fair-trade price per kg or liter of 65-70 Brix pure nolen. We do this on a purely non-profit basis, and i have not taken a single paisa in my life. In fact, sunk my entire personal fortune into this venture. What a disgrace.
Date palm was th life blood of Bengal. It can also become the salvation of Karnataka and much of India. But who will listen? We are building huge temples in Hariharapura, waxing ecstatic over Organic Mandya, but never paying a moment's heed to the crisis engulfing our sweetener economy. The fight between TN and KT over water is irrelevant, it would appear. We are like this only, desi loins huffing and puffing at Chinese dragons. Our loincloths perennially in danger of slipping off? Do loins like us care?
Shondesh, prepared by the traditional caste of confectioners, are ALWAYS considered fit for consumption for all religious purposes, by widows and by orthodox brahmins in Bengal. Even the fried pooris and subzi prepared by them lie in a grey area, eaten by some, not by others. Other types of mithai, like lengcha and pantua are probably not OK whereas roshogolla and dahi, probably is. Don't ask me, there is much arcana and local custom as to what is ok and what is not from traditional sweet shops, run by the cowherd caste.
Hence the question, UPAVAS shondesh has no relevance. In bengal, we have no fetish about upavas as is found in Maharashtra or some other parts of India. There are NO upavaas menus at all.
All shondesh, either made at home, or purchased from the correct traditional source, is suitable for upavas or for reasonably orthodox people.
Upavas means Upavas for the orthodox. The most important are the Ekadashi, as in today. And for Pujas, such as Kali Puja, Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja, Shivaratri. Bride, bridegroom for orthodox weddings. Shraddhas, aadya and other sharddhas, e.g. kushundika, nowadays almost extinct in truncated wedding rites.
1. Nirjala upavaas. No water, nothing. This is the preferred type.
2. Milk, water, nothing else.
3. Milk, fruit.
4. Milk, fruit, sweets like shondesh, dahi.
5. Milk, fruit, sweets, and on ekadashi, eating non-grains and some prohibited seeds. This has become ridiculous, with eating seeds like buckwheat, etc. which completely violates the meaning, and heavy foods like the Bengali kheer.