Raja Festival

Banaste Dakila Gaja, Barasake thare asichi RAJA, Asichi RAJA lo heba nua saja bajja…

The most vivid and enjoyable memories one has of the Raja gaiety is the rope-swings on big banyan trees and the lyrical folk-songs that one listens from the nubile beauty enjoying the atmosphere.It is the most important festival of Odisha, which is generally associated with the farmers and is celebrated during the onset of monsoons. Also known as Mithuna Sankranti, it falls on the first day of the month of Asadha (June-July) from which the rainy season starts, thus moistening the summer parched soil and making it ready for productivity.

Raja Festival

Significantly, it is a festival of the unmarried girls; the potential mothers. Girls are forbidden from all kinds of manual work during these three days of festival. They don’t carry water, cut vegetables, and sweep the houses. Neither do they sew clothes, grind grains, comb hair, walk in bare foot etc. During all these three days, they are seen in the best of dresses and decorations spending time visiting their friends or moving up and down on improvised swings.  During these three days women and girls take rest from work and wear new Saree, Alata,and ornaments.
 Raja Festival

Though celebrated all over the state it is more enthusiastically observed in the coastal districts of Odisha. Saja Baja (preparatory Day) is the day prior to the first day from which the festival Starts. The first day is called Pahili RAJA (Prior RAJA), second is RAJA (Proper RAJA) and third is Basi RAJA (Past RAJA).In some places however there is a custom of celebrating the fourth RAJA also known as the “Basumata Puja”. Conceiving mother earth to be a woman on menstruation, which is a sign of fertility, she is given rest for all these three days. As such all agricultural activities remain suspended during these three days of celebration.

During these 3 days of festivity in Odisha , girls indulge in merry making and savour delicious Pithas ( Rice Cake). The festival is incomplete without tasting the delicacy called Poda Pitha and eating the traditional RAJA Pana.

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Poda Pitha- a unique rice flour cake
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Instructions
  1. Wash and soak the rice for minimum 5 to 6 hours, preferably overnight . Wash 3 to 4 times in the morning and make a fine paste of this along with the washed Poha and keep aside .
  2. Preheat the Microwave oven for 10 minutes at 180 degree .
  3. Heat a Pan with 1tbsp of ghee and add raisins and cashew nuts. Fry for a while and keep aside.
  4. Now In a bowl, pour the poha rice batter, add jaggery, coconut, fennel seeds, cardamom powder, bay leaf, crushed ginger, crushed black pepper powder and salt. Mix well till jaggery melts and now add the fried dry fruits.
  5. Place the banana leaf in the cake tin and apply ghee on it. Pour the batter in it and bake in the microwave convention mode for 40 to 45 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean.
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2 thoughts on “Poda Pitha- a unique rice flour cake”

  1. That’s a beautiful post truly capturing the essence of Raja. Having grown up in this beautiful state I have experienced the exuberance Raja brings for young girls. Every detail in the post has been carefully chosen and truly is a walk down memory lane for me. I applaud the fact that you are documenting these rich heirloom traditions. Very well done. And the Poda Pitha is scrumptious.

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