The sights, smells and tastes of Chhath-Gaonconnection | Your connection to rural India

2021-11-12 09:24:33 By : Mr. Jack Hou

Whether it's Houston or Hazari Bagh, the Chhath Puja celebration has a gratifying similarity. It has special rituals, food and songs, and worshippers offer it with great dedication. Gaon Connection provides special food recipes related to each day of the four-day Chhath celebration. Cook, share and taste them.

Thekua, a traditional Bihari cuisine. Photo: Eklavya Prasad

Parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh are celebrating Chhath, and the celebration is in the air. Today, November 10th, is the third day of a four-day festival for Surya Dev (Sun God) and Chhathi Maiyya.

Chhath's preparations began shortly after Kartik's month of Diwali. Prayer starts on the fourth day after Diwali and ends with arghya on the seventh day.

Like Indian festivals, Chhath also has some special foods. The dishes are sacred pan (without onions, garlic and spices), and each day of the Chhath festival has a different menu.

Gaon Connection has recorded some of these special recipes, which you can try while attending Chhath Puja with your family and friends. In addition to having ritual significance, these foods also have a variety of health benefits.

Also read: In photos: From Nahay Khay to arghaya-how people in Bihar and Jharkhand celebrate Chhath Puja

The first day of Chhath Puja is the fourth day after Diwali and is called nahay-khaay (bath and eat). If there is a river nearby, devotees will swim in the river or sprinkle Gangajal. The vrati (fasting person) must use datun (neem stem used as a toothbrush).

Folk singer Sharda Sinha, who has sung several Chhath songs, told Gaon Connection that she remembered her traveling long distances in the in-laws’ village in Patna District, Bihar, and fetching holy water from the brass pot from the Ganges and others. fasting. 

After bathing, believers prepare kaddu-bhaat (gourd rice) and offer it to the deity to enjoy it. 

“In Mithilanchal, it is called arwa-arwain because only arwa rice is used. This meal is of great significance to vrati or parvatin or admirers. This is a preparatory step before starting the 36-hour fasting journey,” folk singer Xin Ha said. According to her, such a meal can cool the stomach, reconcile the taste buds, and purify the digestive system. 

Also read: Folk singers, filmmakers and actors from Bihar share their memories of Chhath

People also cook chana dal (chickpea lentils), while moong dal (yellow lentils) is prepared in some households. In some places, gourds are prepared with chickpeas and lentils.

After eating nahay-kahaye, sometime at noon, vrati starts a nirjala or anhydrous fast.

The second day of Chhath is called Kharna or Lohanda. On this day, believers break their fast after sunset. They cook kheer-roti (rice pudding made with jaggery and pancakes with ghee) or poori on a clay stove, and offer it to the gods with bananas using banana leaves.

"Vrati must eat prasad silently. Once vrati is finished, distribute prasad to other people at home and nearby. This is the only meal that day. The fast begins after Kharna, on the last day of Chhath, after arghya Was broken," Sinha said.

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Fasting people stay awake during the celebration and can only sleep on the ground. "I remember I collected pual (dried, yellowed stalks from the crops) for my mother from the fields. It gives warmth in winter nights so that she can rest for a while and prepare for the hard day ahead," Actor Amrendra Sharma from Pashchim Champaran in Bihar recalled. 

“Where there is no wool, put a blanket on the floor because wool is considered pure wool,” Kamakhya Narayan Singh, a Guwahati film producer from Mumbai, told Gaon Connection. Singh now uses stoves instead of clay pots to cook Kharna prasad in Mumbai. For the past five years, he has been observing the Chhath fast.

The third day of Chhath Puja is the main day of the festival. It is used to prepare khasar (small balls made of rice flour and coarse sugar) and thekua (made of coarse sugar and wheat flour) to be enshrined to the deity.

“The wheat flour used for thekua is very coarse. Before grinding the wheat for Chhath, we have thoroughly cleaned the machine in some places in Mumbai,” Singh said.

Also read: Deepavali and the Love of Lehheim

At the same time, folk singer Sinha talked about how vrati sang and made prasad at night. “In some homes, work used to start at midnight after Harna. Vrati must stay awake, so it helps her to do this,” she added.

After preparing the prasad, the daala (a festival offering to the gods) is ready to welcome the arghya in the evening. Chhath daala is a god dedicated to seasonal fruits and vegetables. “These include turmeric, ginger, sweet potatoes, radishes, yam; gram and peas, water chestnut, sugar cane, gagra nimbu (lemon), coconut shell and water, bananas, butter apples and dried fruits,” said Patna-based photographer Ravi S Sahani Gaon Connection.  

Some people use brass soup to provide Agia, while others use bamboo soup; both are considered pure. "People also bought a clay elephant with a huge diya (earth lamp) for Chhath Puja. The red/pink aarta patra made from akwan plants is a must for Chhath. Local craftsmen make them, "He added.

The beautifully decorated soap with candies, water, milk and earthen lamps is brought to a body of water, where vrati in new clothes stands in knee-deep water and offers them to the setting sun. "Those who live in the city like me can't go to the water body to provide Agia, they can do it on their terrace," film producer Singh explained.

Also read: Puthandu Vazhuthugal: Neem Flower, Raw Sugar and Raw Mango for Tamil New Year

The last day of Chhath Puja begins shortly after midnight, when vrati prepares parna (iftar) and then prepares soop again.

At dawn, vrati once again offered sacrifices to the sun god, which marked the climax of the festival.

According to folk singer Sinha, people use sharbat (juice), sprouted grains, cucumbers and prasad to break their fast. "All of these have a cooling effect on the stomach that has not eaten for 36 hours. These foods are easy for vrati to digest," she said. 

After that is the full meal, including rice, pigeon peas, green vegetables, including bachka, tarua and tilkor. "We also prepare fried dough sticks. Serve it with curd and chutney. The food is to stimulate the taste buds of vrati," the folk singer added.

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Singh breaks his fast with thekua, jaggery and warm water. He said he has been looking forward to the next feast. It includes kadhi-badi (a traditional mixed spice and creamy yogurt curry or kadhi, eaten with crispy chickpea flour fritters), kohda (pumpkin), ole (elephant feet or yam), and aloo-gobhi (potato cauliflower) ) Vegetables other than fried dough sticks and plenty of rice.

In some families, vrati breaks the fast with ginger and warm water, then a vegetarian meal, then curry fish and rice, which is considered a good sign, just like in the home of actor Sharma. 

“Vrati breaks the fast with ginger and warm water, and then drinks tea. We prepare vegetarian dishes, but we must eat fish and rice in vrati that day,” he said.

This last feast witnessed the end of the Chhath celebration until the second year. 

Happy Chart! Jay Chatty Meyer!

Heat a little water in a saucepan, add jaggery to dissolve it. To check the consistency of the mixture, dip your index finger and stretch it with your thumb to see if it will form threads. The ratio of powdered sugar to flour is 1:2. Raw sugar should not be threaded. 

Add fennel seeds and jaggery syrup to the dough and knead vigorously. If it is for the gods, ghee (clarified butter) does not have to be added to the flour, otherwise, please feel free to add ghee to make thekuas crispy.

Shape the dough into small balls, flatten them on thekua mold, and then press. The imprint brings it a touch of holiday flavor. 

Fry it in kadhai with ghee (for puja) or refined oil (otherwise) until dark brown. Put the fried food on a napkin or napkin, let the oil drain, and serve. 

Panch phorna, it is an aromatic blend of five complete seeds-jeera (cumin), methi (fenugreek), kalonji (black seed), saunf (fennel) and rai (mustard)

2-3 dried red peppers 

Raw sugar or sugar (not more than 20 grams)

Cut the pumpkin lengthwise without peeling it, and then cut into small cubes. Heat ghee in kadhai, add panch phoran, chili, once it splashes, add neatly diced vegetables and stir well. Add turmeric, salt, cover, and simmer over low heat. 

When the pumpkin is soft, add the jaggery and mix well. It will leave some water behind, and you can increase the flame to dry the moisture. Once the texture and color of the pumpkin have changed, it can be eaten.   

2 dried red peppers (optional)  

Peel and cut the gourd lengthwise, then cut into neat squares. Wash the lentils, soak them in water overnight or boil them in a cooker. 

Put the oil in the kadhai, add cumin seeds, chili, and let it splash. Add chopped vegetables, turmeric and salt, then add lentils. Cover the lid, keep the heat low and continue mixing between the two. Vegetables leave plenty of moisture to help cooking. 

When finished, remove it from the stove, garnish with chopped coriander leaves, and serve with rice.              

Ole/suran/jimikand (yam) 250 g

A paste of 1 medium onion, 10 garlic cloves, and 1 inch of ginger

Kashmiri red chili powder 2 teaspoons

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

The yam is washed, peeled, and cut into square pieces of equal size. Rub mustard oil on your hands when cutting, as it may be itchy in some cases. You can pickle it with some salt and turmeric, then set it aside for a few minutes. Or boil a pot of water, add yam pill, lime juice and salt, cook for 10 minutes, remove and drain. 

Fry it in mustard oil. Once it turns golden brown, take these pieces out and place them on a plate.

When preparing the curry, add bay leaves, dried red peppers and onions. Once the onion is dark golden brown, then add the onion ginger garlic paste. Let it mix well and continue stirring. Then add powdered spices and salt. Add a little water to cook the spices. Cover the lid and simmer over low heat. 

After it's cooked, add a little more water, and when the mixture is boiling, add the fried yams, and then add the garam masala powder. Cover the lid and cook for no more than two minutes.

You can roast cumin seeds with a small spoon, add ghee, and pour it on the curry. It brings a good taste to the curry. Serve with steamed rice.       

Ole/suran/jimikand (yam) 250 g

The yam is washed, peeled, and cut into square pieces of equal size. Rub mustard oil on your hands when cutting, as it may be itchy in some cases. Boil with water and salt. When finished, drain the water and let dry. 

Put other ingredients in a bowl, add the cooked yam, and stir well. Add mustard oil and keep in the sun. Stored in an airtight container, it is an excellent supplement to winter meals.    

Vegetables-potatoes, eggplant, raw bananas, peas, spinach leaves, onion/garlic leaves, cauliflower 

Mustard oil deep-fried 

Cut the potatoes, eggplants and raw bananas into thin slices. Prepare a thick gram flour batter and a little rice noodles, ginger garlic chili sauce and salt. Soak the cut vegetables in water and cook them on the tawa over a low fire. When it turns into a deep golden color, it's ready to be served. These are called bachkas.

Peas, spinach leaves, and onion/garlic leaves follow the same procedure, but are fried in oil and called chhanuas.

When vegetables, such as potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, etc., are deep-fried in a batter mixed with ginger garlic chili sauce and salt, they are called pakodas.

So what are you preparing today-ole curry, chana dal-kaddu or pakodas?