520th Anniversary of the Birth of Hindu Saint and Poet Tulsidas

Posted on 11th August 2017


You may not have realised, but this year might be the 520th anniversary of the birth of the Hindu saint and poet Goswami Tulsidas. We say “might be” because there is considerable disagreement about the year of his birth. In this week’s blog, we’ll tell you a little bit about the life of Tulsidas and the cuisine of his native town: Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

Life of a Saint

According to legend, Tulsidas was born following a twelve-month pregnancy. The new-born baby had all 32 teeth present in his mouth and didn’t cry but said instead the name of the Hindu God, “Rama”. Abandoned at birth by his parents and at five-years-old by his adoptive mother he fended for himself first as a beggar and later as a Sadhu or holy acetic. He is said to have performed many miracles – including the restoration of the life of a dead Brahmin.

Works of a Poet

Tulsidas lived most of his life in Varanasi, but travelled extensively. He completed the four Char Dham pilgrimages that make the pilgrim travel the length and breadth of the Indian Subcontinent. His early experiences inspired him to devote the rest of his life to writing poetry. He composed six major and six minor works all in the local Awadhi dialect. This made it possible for people of all castes to appreciate the tales he wrote of Rama – seventh avatar of Vishnu. The 19th Century Hindi poet, ‘Hari Oudh’ praised his work, saying:

“Tulsidas did not shine by composing poetry, rather it was Poetry herself that shone by getting the art of Tulsidas.”

Food that Inspires Poetry

The city of Varanasi, where Tulsidas dwelled when he wasn’t travelling, is famous for its Papdi Chaat. This street food has a heritage that dates back at least as far as when the poet lived there. Papdi are crisp fried dough wafers and Chaat is a flavoursome preparation of chickpeas, yoghurt and tamarind chutney.

If you would like to try it for yourself, Aloo Papdi Chaat is one of the starter dishes on our summer menu. To make a reservation at our Kensington restaurant, fill out the form on our website or call us direct on 020 7229 2115.   

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