Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Deepavali, Bhai Phota & A Sweet Treat

Kali Puja, is another major festival for the people of Bengal. Just after nineteen days of the completion of the Durga Puja, the city again geared up with the same enthusiasm to celebrate another popular festival, the Kali Puja. When rest of the India worships Goddess Lakshmi on the occasion of Diwali, in Bengal Goddess Kali is the chief deity for the occasion of Deepavali, the festival of lights. Kali Puja is celebrated on the Amavasya or the no moon night in the Hindu month of Kartik (October/November). This date of Kali Pooja coincides with Diwali, the North Indian New Year or the Festivals of Lights.
Just as people in North India light lamps to welcome Lakshmi Ma in their houses, people in West Bengal celebrate Kali Puja by lighting lamps in honor of Goddess Kali. Houses are decorated with lamps. Kali Puja is carried out in the late evening. Nobody sleeps at that night and takes blessings from Maa Kali. The main purpose of the puja is to seek the help of the goddess in destroying all evil. The most popular event during Kali Puja is the burning of crackers.Children as well as adults set off to fire the crackers. The whole city is decorated with lights.

Maa Bhavatarini, an aspect of Maa Kali in Dakshineswar temple, situated on the banks of Hooghly river, on the north of Kolkata.

After two days of kali Puja, another festival that is very dear to bengalis, is Bhai Phota or Bhai Duj in North India. Bhai Phota is a festival that strengthens the beautiful bond of love and affection between a brother and a sister. Sisters' fast all morning till the ritual is completed. Married sisters' invite their brothers to their houses. In Bhai Phota, the phota or the tilak applied on brother's forehead is made of ghee, sandalwood (chandan) paste and kaajal. The elder of the brother and sister gives the younger ones rice and durba, a type of grass. Rice is a symbol of plenty and the evergreen durba is symbolic of longevity. She applies ‘Phota’ or ‘tilak’ on her brother’s forehead with the little finger of her left hand with the chanting of mantras.
Bhai phota mantra in Bengali :
Bhaier kapale dilam phonta
Jamer Duare porlo kanta,
Jamuna Dae Jomke phonta,
Ami di amar bhaike phonta,
Bhai jeno hoy lohar vata.
Then sisters offer sweets and gifts to their brothers and prays for the long and prosperous life for their brothers. Brothers also promise their sisters to protect them from all hardship in their lives. Brothers also pamper their sisters with lots of gifts. It ends with lots of good food and gathering with relatives and family members.

Two festivals and without a sweet treat is impossible. So, here is one......
Patishapta Pitha

Pitha, is a home-made sweet, which has outer layer made of rice or wheat flour and a inner filling made of different savouries. Pitha is usually prepared during Poush Parbon, the festival marking the harvesting season, known as Makar Sankranti in North India.

Ingredients :

For Crepes or outer layer you need.........

Semolina or Suji : 1 cup
Milk : 1 cup
Maida(Plain white flour) : 1 cup
Ghee for shallow frying

For stuffing or filling you need........

freshly grated coconut : 1 cup
Sugar : 1/4 cup
Cardamom powder : 1 tbsp.
1/2 cup condensed milk/kheer omit sugar
if used
Almonds/cashews (chopped) and raisins : 1/2 cup

How to make the stuffing :

  • Grate the coconut.
  • In a karai or pan, stir together the coconut, sugar and condensed milk until they mix together and form into a soft moist mass.
  • Add nuts and raisins. Take pan out of heat and sprinkle cardamom powder over it and give it good stir.
  • Your stuffing is ready. Let it cool for sometime.

How to make the crepes or outer layer :
  • Soak the semolina/suji in milk for 30 to 45 minutes. Then add flour/maida and sugar in the milk and mix to make a smooth dosa like batter without lumps.
  • Now heat a wide frying pan or tawa, preferably non-stick one and grease with a drop of ghee. swirl pan around so that pan is coated evenly with the hot ghee.
  • Drop 2 tablespoon of batter into the frying pan and swirl pan around to coat evenly and make a round crepe.
  • Allow batter to set and cook until crepe turns very light brown. I like to fry them on both sides.
  • Then put little amount of stuffing at the one end of the crepe.

  • Then fold it over the filling and roll it upto the other end.

  • Remove from the pan and repeat the steps to make more patishaptas. Serve hot or cold.

Finally, HAPPY & PROSPEROUS DIWALI / DEEPAVALI to everyone out
there .................
This post is a humble entry to JFI : Nov.'08 Festival Treats hosted by Cooking 4 all seasons


LG said...

Indrani, Happy Deepavali to you. Patishpatha is a very new sweet to me, have to try it sometimes.

Srivalli said...

Indrani, Thats really such a wonderful post!..thanks for sharing it with us!

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