World Pakhala Divas 2023: Celebrating the Iconic Odia Dish

Pakhala Divas or Pakhal Dibas is a festival that celebrates the quintessential Odia dish, Pakhala. Pakhala Divas festival is celebrated on March 20th every year, and it has become an integral part of Odia culture and tradition. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history and significance of Pakhala Divas, as well as the importance of Pakhala in Odia cuisine.

Pakhala Divas
Pakhala Divas

Pakhala Divas is a festival that celebrates Pakhala, a rice-based dish that is a staple of Odia cuisine. On this day, people across the state of Odisha come together to celebrate this unique dish and its cultural significance. The festival is celebrated on March 20th every year, which marks the beginning of the summer season in Odisha.

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The History of Pakhala Divas

The history of Pakhala Divas dates back to ancient times. According to legend, Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of the Jagannath Temple in Puri, used to enjoy Pakhala during the summer months. Over time, the tradition of eating Pakhala during the hot summer months became a part of Odia culture, and Pakhala Divas was born.

In order to promote the cuisine of Odisha in the modern era, a popular initiative was declared on March 20, 2011, as Pakhala Dibasa to be celebrated by Odias worldwide. Since then, this day has been celebrated annually as Pakhala Day by people across regions where the dish is consumed and promoted.

The Significance of Pakhala Divas

Pakhala Divas is a festival celebrated in the state of Odisha, India, dedicated to the traditional dish of Pakhala, which is made of rice and water. The festival holds great significance for the people of Odisha, and here are some reasons why:

  1. Promotion of traditional cuisine: Pakhala Divas is celebrated to promote the traditional dish of Pakhala, which is a staple food in Odisha. The festival aims to create awareness about the dish’s nutritional value and encourage people to consume it as a healthy and refreshing meal.
  2. Cultural significance: Pakhala is deeply rooted in Odia culture and has been consumed by the people of Odisha for centuries. Pakhala Divas is a celebration of the state’s cultural heritage and provides an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate their shared traditions.
  3. Symbol of unity: The festival of Pakhala Divas brings people of all communities and backgrounds together. It is a time when people forget their differences and celebrate their shared love for food and culture.
  4. Seasonal significance: Pakhala is a dish that is consumed during the hot summer months in Odisha. Pakhala Divas is celebrated in March, just before the onset of summer, as a way to prepare for the season ahead.
  5. Importance of sustainability: Pakhala Divas also promotes the importance of sustainability and responsible consumption. The festival encourages people to use locally sourced ingredients, reduce food waste, and adopt eco-friendly practices.

What is Pakhala?

Pakhala is a rice-based dish that is a staple of Odia cuisine. It is made by soaking rice in water overnight and then fermenting it for several hours. The result is a slightly sour and refreshing dish that is perfect for hot summer days. Pakhala can be eaten on its own or paired with a variety of side dishes.

The Different Varieties of Pakhala

Pakhala is a traditional dish from the state of Odisha. It is made by soaking cooked rice in water for several hours, usually overnight. The dish is then seasoned with salt and served with a variety of accompaniments like fried fish, roasted vegetables, and curd. Here are some of the different varieties of Pakhala:

  1. Basi Pakhala: Basi Pakhala is a type of Pakhala that is fermented for several hours or even overnight. It is usually prepared by adding a small quantity of cooked rice to water in a container and leaving it in a warm place, allowing the rice to ferment. Basi Pakhala has a tangy flavour and is usually served with roasted vegetables.
  2. Jeera Pakhala: Jeera Pakhala is a type of Pakhala that is seasoned with cumin seeds. It is a simple yet flavorful dish that is usually served with fried fish or roasted vegetables.
  3. Dahi Pakhala: Dahi Pakhala is a type of Pakhala that is seasoned with curd. The dish is usually prepared by mixing Pakhala with curd, salt, and roasted cumin seeds. Dahi Pakhala is a refreshing and cooling dish that is perfect for the hot summer months.
  4. Kanika Pakhala: Kanika Pakhala is a type of Pakhala that is prepared by mixing cooked rice with ghee, sugar, and milk. It is a sweet and savoury dish that is usually served as a dessert.
  5. Ada Pakhala: Ada Pakhala is a type of Pakhala that is prepared by soaking cooked rice in ginger water. It is a spicy and tangy dish that is usually served with fried fish or roasted vegetables.

How is Pakhala Prepared?

It is a simple and easy-to-prepare dish that is made by soaking cooked rice in water for several hours, usually overnight. Here’s how Pakhala is prepared:

Ingredients:

  • Cooked rice
  • Water
  • Salt

Instructions:

  1. Take cooked rice in a large bowl or container.
  2. Add water to the rice, ensuring that the rice is completely submerged in the water.
  3. Add salt to the rice and water mixture, as per your taste.
  4. Stir the mixture well to ensure that the salt is evenly distributed.
  5. Cover the bowl or container with a lid and let it sit for several hours, preferably overnight.
  6. After several hours, the rice will absorb the water and become soft and fluffy.
  7. Serve the Pakhala in a bowl with accompaniments like fried fish, roasted vegetables, or curd.

Variations:

  • Basi Pakhala: For Basi Pakhala, the cooked rice is soaked in water for several hours or even overnight to allow it to ferment. This gives the dish a tangy flavour.
  • Jeera Pakhala: Jeera Pakhala is prepared by seasoning the Pakhala with cumin seeds.
  • Dahi Pakhala: In Dahi Pakhala, the Pakhala is seasoned with curd, salt, and roasted cumin seeds.
  • Ada Pakhala: Ada Pakhala is prepared by soaking cooked rice in ginger water, which gives the dish a spicy and tangy flavour.

Pakhala and Odia Culture

Pakhala is an integral part of Odia culture and tradition. It is a dish that is enjoyed by people from all walks of life and is often served during festivals and special occasions. Pakhala is also a symbol of sustainability, as it is made using locally sourced ingredients and traditional preparation methods.

Health Benefits of Pakhala

In addition to its cultural significance, Pakhala also has several health benefits. Because it is a fermented dish, Pakhala contains probiotics that can improve gut health and boost the immune system. It is also a good source of carbohydrates and can provide sustained energy throughout the day. Additionally, Pakhala is low in fat and calories, making it a healthy choice for those who are watching their weight.

Conclusion

Pakhala Divas is a celebration of Odia culture and tradition, and the dish it honours, Pakhala, is a unique and delicious part of Odia cuisine. This festival is an opportunity for people to come together and share their love for this iconic dish, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of sustainability and the need to preserve our cultural heritage.

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FAQs on Pakhala Divas

  1. What is Pakhala Divas?

    Pakhala Divas is a festival celebrated in the state of Odisha, on March 20th every year. The festival is dedicated to the traditional dish of Pakhala and aims to promote its consumption as a healthy and refreshing meal.

  2. When was the first Pakhala Divas celebrated?

    The first Pakhala Divas was celebrated on March 20, 2011, in Odisha.

  3. What is Pakhala?

    Pakhala is a traditional dish from Odisha, India, made by soaking cooked rice in water for several hours. The dish is then seasoned with salt and served with a variety of accompaniments like fried fish, roasted vegetables, and curd.

  4. Why is Pakhala Divas celebrated?

    Pakhala Divas is celebrated to promote the traditional dish of Pakhala and to encourage people to consume it as a healthy and refreshing meal. The festival also promotes sustainability, responsible consumption, and cultural heritage.

  5. How is Pakhala Divas celebrated?

    Pakhala Divas is celebrated by preparing and consuming Pakhala, decorating homes and streets with colourful decorations, participating in cultural programs and music shows, and organizing food drives to distribute Pakhala to the less fortunate.

  6. What are the different variations of Pakhala?

    The different variations of Pakhala include Basi Pakhala, Jeera Pakhala, Dahi Pakhala, Kanika Pakhala, and Ada Pakhala. Each variation has its own unique flavour and preparation method.

  7. Is Pakhala a healthy dish?

    Yes, Pakhala is considered to be a healthy dish as it is a rich source of carbohydrates and contains essential minerals like calcium and iron. It is also low in fat and calories and is a perfect dish for the hot summer months as it is refreshing and cooling.

  8. Where can I find Pakhala outside of Odisha?

    Pakhala is a popular dish in Odisha, but it can also be found in other parts of India and in some Indian restaurants abroad.

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