22 Jun Ideas For Preparing A Feast For Panihati Festival (FREE download)
As I have promised, today I am sharing some of the practical cooking ideas for the Panihati festival for your inspiration! If you haven’t read the story about the cida-dahi festival prepared by Raghunath Das Goswami for the pleasure of Nityananda Prabhu, which is the reason why we celebrate it, find it in my previous article Panihati Pastime
Before I start with the practical tips, I have to offer my heartfelt gratitude to my spiritual master, Srila Jayapataka Swami, who has revealed the glories of this festival to my husband and me, and ever since it had become one of our favorite Vaishnava celebrations. As his personal cooks, we participated in organizing and cooking for this festival on a few occasions. Also, we visited Panihati Dham during our traveling pilgrimage to the Ganga safari in 2003. At that time Srila Jayapataka Swami gave a lecture of his own experience of this festival in the early ‘70s. You can get this lecture, as an excerpt from my book “Safari, a spiritual adventure in the sacred land” along with the list of preparations with all the needful ingredients as a FREE download pdf file at the bottom of this article.
Apart from being great fun, this festival is an opportunity to reach out for the mercy of Lord Nityananda Prabhu, who is the original Guru and the only one who can open the way to the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as He did in this pastime to young Raghunath Dasa.
Preparing the feast
The cooking for this festival is very simple and children of all ages can easily participate in it. First, we need to cook all the rice in plain water. Unfortunately, we have no chipped rice available to buy in our area, so we use basmati rice instead. If you can find chipped rice (or flat rice), you don’t need to cook it, just soak it in water for some time. We need to prepare condensed milk by boiling the milk until it gets the desired thickness. Then we put aside three big pots with the main ingredients – one with cooked rice, one with yogurt, and one with condensed milk. Alternatively, you can cook rice in milk to get the sweet rice, and then you do not need to make condensed milk separately.
Then we need to wash and chop all the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fresh herbs that we want to mix with the rice. Some vegetables we use fresh, and some we cook or still fry in a pan with salt and spices. All the chopped ingredients we divide into small pots – one pot for bananas, one for cherries, one for tomato, one for still fries’ veggies, etc.
And then, the best part begins! We have to combine all the ingredients into small preparations of sweet rice with milk and yogurt, and salty rice with yogurt. This is the part to let the children use their creativity in the kitchen. With little ones, the best is to let the flow of creativity be spontaneous, with adult supervision of course. With older children, you can plan the menu in advance and let everyone participate in planning. What we usually do is to make the names for each preparation, and engage the kids to write the small paper flags with the names of each preparation that we would attach to the pots. Unfortunately, we cannot find here so many small clay pots, but we use colorful disposable cardboard pots instead.
I wrote the list of preparations that we usually make and the ingredients that you need for each of them. It will give you some ideas on how to prepare your own feast with the ingredients that you have at hand. I hope you and your family are going to have a wonderful spiritual celebration and lots of fun in the kitchen! The most important on the end is to offer all the preparations to Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda with love and devotion!
Please click the link below to download the list for free.
Happy Panihati Cida-Dahi Utsav to all!