Raja festival ideally falls on June 14 and is a three-day affair. These three days are called differently. While the first day is called ‘Pahili Raja’, the second day is called ‘Majhi Raja’ or ‘Raja Sankranti’ or ‘Mithuna Sankranti’ and the third day is ‘Sesha Raja’ or ‘Bhudaha’ or ‘Basi Raja
Poda PItha and other sweets
Without ‘Poda Pitha’, Raja festival becomes tasteless... In Odia, there is a popular saying, ‘Bara Masa Tera Parva’, which can loosely be translated as ‘there are 13 festivals in 12 months’. This suggests that Odias celebrate many festivals in a year. And, all the festivals are associated with some food items, one way or the other.
‘Raja festival’ is one of them...
This festival ideally falls on June 14 and is a three-day affair. These three days are called differently. While the first day is called ‘Pahili Raja’, the second day is called ‘Majhi Raja’ or ‘Raja Sankranti’ or ‘Mithuna Sankranti’ and the third day is ‘Sesha Raja’ or ‘Bhudaha’ or ‘Basi Raja’.
Raja festival is said to be incomplete without pithas or cakes. Different kinds of pithas like ‘Poda Pitha’, ‘Manda’, ‘Kakara’, ‘Arisha’, ‘Chandrakala’ and ‘Chakuli’ are cooked at home across Odisha. In rural areas, the observance of the festival can be gauged from a typical aroma that fills the air.
From among all the pithas, ‘Poda Pitha’ has a special place. This authentic cake of Odia tradition is especially made during the Raja festival. Raja festival is said to be tasteless without ‘Poda Pitha’. As different Odia houses have different unique recipes of their own, they prepare different types of ‘Poda Pitha’.
Among the most preferred types of ‘Poda Pitha’ are Janta Poda Pitha, Lau Poda Pitha, Biri Poda Pitha and Savoury Poda Pitha. People of all ages have a liking for this traditional dish.
‘Poda Pitha’ is also a favourite dish of Lord Jagannath
While it is offered to Lord Jagannath after every meal, it is also offered to Him and his siblings during ‘Bahuda Yatra’.
On their way back home from Gundicha temple, the deities stop for a while at the Mausima Temple, also known as Maa Ardhashosini Temple. This temple is dedicated to the aunt of Lord Jagannath. Here, the deities are offered ‘Poda Pitha’. Then the journey resumes.
How is ‘Poda Pitha’ prepared?
Traditionally ‘Poda Pitha’ is baked the whole night in an earthen vessel on top of the hearth in the night and served the next morning. But this process has become a thing of past.
For preparation of ‘Poda Pitha’, a batter of rice and black gram is the staple ingredient. Then, slices of coconut, grated coconut, cashew nuts, ginger pieces, sugar (or jiggery), desi ghee, salt and baking soda are mixed into it. Then an earthen vessel is put on the chullah with embers in it.
Then either sal leaves or a piece of banana leaf is placed on the vessel. Thereafter the mixture is transferred onto the vessel. The top of the mixture is also covered with leaves and then embers are also put on it.
It is kept so for the whole night. In the morning, it is separated from the vessel, cut into pieces and offered.
These days, ‘Poda Pitha’ is also being cooked in ovens.