Food has always been pivotal to human existence. The history of human evolution can be traced and understood through several different studies. Food has played a significant role in this evolution and has been more than a medium of sustenance.
Festivals have more important role to play in today’s modernized world where the space for joint or extended family is shrinking and nuclear families are becoming more and more common. The festivals allow us to come together, laugh, rejoice, and share a positive relationship. Happy individuals could lead to formation of a happy and prosperous society.
Food and Festival is what brings us together from times immemorial. Just as communities and people are inseparable from festivals, food has an equally important role to play in these occasions. It’s hard to imagine these occasions without food.
As soon as the Diwali’s hustle & bustle settles down, the people especially from Bihar get ready to rejoice the much awaited Chhath Pooja. Chhath is an important festival in Hindu religion. Celebrated mostly in Bihar and Nepal’s Mithila, Chhath Puja is dedicated to the worship of the Sun god and his wife Usha. Devotees perform the puja to thank the Sun god for supporting life on earth and also to seek his blessings.
In the Hindu religion, the Sun is believed to be the healer of many severe health conditions and ensures longevity, prosperity, progress and well-being. People celebrate the festival by following a rigorous routine that lasts four days. The rituals include: fasting, abstinence from drinking water; taking a holy dip in river or pond, offering prayers to the rising and setting sun, and meditating by standing in water body for long period of time.
Chhath is celebrated twice a year, the Chhota Chhath which is celebrated few days after Holi and is also known as Chaitri Chhath, and the other one is on Karthik Shashthi (after Diwali).
The first day of Chhath – is observed as Nahay Khay (a ritual of taking a holy dip & eating a single meal). It starts exactly 4 days from Diwali. On this day, people observing fast take a bath in a river or pond and eat a lunch of Kaddu Bhat (rice, lentils mixed with bottle gourd, made in pure ghee). Cooking is strictly performed in a clay pot and Iron Kadhais (pan) on chulhas or wood fire.
Second day (5th day from Diwali) is observed as Kharna or kheer- roti. Vratis observe a strict fast that lasts until sunset and even abstain from drinking water. This fast ends post sunset with a meal of Kheer-roti, after offering it to the rising moon and Goddess Ganga. The Kheer is made with rice, jaggery and milk or rice, milk and sugar. Once, my friend from Bihar, informed me that in their house, this kheer is served in clay bowls (locally called Kasaura) and offered at 13 different places in their house. This is the only time when they eat or drink anything from the starting of the day till the last day of Chhath.
The third day is the main festival day (exactly 6th day from Diwali) of Chhath. Devotees maintain ‘Nirjal Vrat’ (abstinence from drinking water) on the third day. The rituals comprise of going on river bank and offering ‘Arghya’ to the setting sun. The river bed-Ghat resonates with the Chhath songs and Bhajans and this whole celebration is called as Sandhya Arghya. The Ganga Ghat bears an auspicious aura with the women adorning orange colored Sindoor that starts from nasal apex till the parting in their hair, carrying handcrafted bamboo thalis with 5 types of seasonal fruits, a piece of cloth (except black), kulhads filled with green /black boiled chana, dry fruits, Kalash decorated with mango leaves, coconut tied with sacred thread, and lit diyas. Sun God is offered with the delicacies like Thekua (Deep fried wheat flour- jaggery Biscuits).
On the final day of Chhath Puja, devotees, along with their family and friends, go to the riverbank before sunrise, in order to make the offerings (Arghya) to the rising sun. On this day, the offerings are the same as on the third day with the difference being that it is performed for the rising sun. Hence the ritual is called as Bhorwa (meaning early morning) Arghya.
The festival ends with the breaking of the fast by the Vratins. The fast comes to end after offering Arghya to rising sun. In this way, nearly 36 hours of strict penance comes to an end. The Prasad offering includes sweets, Kheer and Thekua. The food is strictly vegetarian and is cooked without salt, onions or garlic. Emphasis is put on maintaining the purity of the food.
Seeking the blessings from God Sun, let’s take a vow to save our environment and energy from Sun for better future, we are glad to share with you this delectable version of Rice kheer for all Vratins on the Kharna Day!
Wish you a happy and blessed Chhath Pooja!
Find more delicious desserts
- 1 liter Full Cream Milk
- 150 grams Granulated Sugar
- 100 grams Basmati Rice (Soaked and Dried)
- 100 grams Khoa/Khoya/Mawa
- Clarified Butter (Ghee)
- 8-10 Almonds (chopped)
- 8-10 Cashewnuts (Chopped)
- 1 tsp. Cardamom Powder (Elaichi Powder)
- 1-1/2 tbsp. Raisins
- Grind rice coarsely in a grinder jar. You can even pound rice in a mortar-pestle if you chose to do so. Ensure you grind the rice coarsely (flour consistency is not desired)
- Add Milk in a large pan and allow it to boil on low heat
- Heat 2 tbsp. Ghee in a pan and fry raisins in it. As raisins begins to puff, remove it from the pan and now add Cashewnuts and Almonds. We must lightly brown the nuts on a low heat. When the color changes lightly, we will take it off the heat.
- Reduce heat as Milk begins to boil. Now, add coarsely grounded rice and give a stir. Cook rice on low- medium heat. Keep stirring intermittently, to prevent formation of lumps.
- We have cooked rice in milk on low heat for 25 minutes. Rice is cooked completely and milk gets thickened significantly
- Add Khoya-Khoa(Mava) and mix until Khoa gets incorporated in the milk. For recipe of Homemade Khoa, visit our "Dessert" playlist. Mix continuously.
- When Kheer gets thickened and there are no lumps of Khoya in it, add Sugar. We have used 150 gms Sugar. If you prefer more sweetness in the kheer, you may increase the Sugar quantity till 180-200 grams. Mix until sugar melts completely.
- Now add fried Cashewnuts, Almonds and raisins and mix. Add Cardamom (Elaichi) Powder. Switch off the heat and now Kheer is ready to be served
- Khoya Aur Chawal Ki Kheer can be prepared for Chhath Puja. You can have this Kheer after the Kharna (second day of Chhath)
Click here to watch recipe video