Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami’s chipped- rice-and-yogurt festival for Lord Caitanya and His associates. Celebrated especially in Panihati, West Bengal.
The Chida-dadhi Mahotsav, also known as the Chipped Rice Festivalof Panihati, is a yearly celebration of the pastimes of SrilaRaghunatha dasa Goswami and Lord Nityananda Prabhu. Thisastonishing pastime took place on the banks of the Ganges atPanihati, which is just north of Calcutta. Lord Caitanya and hisassociates enjoyed many transcendental pastimes here. Chida-dadhiMahotsav remembers how the Lord mercifully reciprocated with Hisdevotees by arranging, through Nityananda Prabhu and Raghunathadasa, to provide an ecstatic feast of yoghurt and chipped rice,along with various other nectar foodstuffs. Linked below is anexcerpt from Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya lila chapter 6, whichdescribes this wonderful pastime in detail.
The chipped rice festival took place just before the monsoons,when it is very hot (45 – 50 C) and muggy (80 – 90 % humidity), sonaturally the most cooling of foodstuffs were offered. Cool yoghurt(dadhi) and chipped rice (chida) were offered with sugar, bananas,milk sweets and cakes.
Our feast menu begins with Ganges Curd Upma, a moist anddelicious preparation of vegetables and grain. Before offering, aflavorful stream of yoghurt is poured around the base of the Upma,in honor of the festival goers who had to stand in the Ganges toenjoy their prasadam because there was no room left on the riverbanks.
A light and simple Cracked Urad Dal is offered, with a side ofBanana Chapatis drenched in Orange Cardamom Butter. A sumptuouslyrich Cauliflower & Red Pepper Sabji is simple to make, andbrings smiles to the devotees.
A dry curry of Peas and Paneer is stuffed in a hollow Lemon,which adds nice flavor to the preparation. Rava Idli is a savorycake that goes nicely with the Aloo Kerala Fry, a spicy fried pattyof potato and bitter melon.
Nestled amongst the whites of rice and yoghurt is a delightfulStuffed White Baby Eggplant which is filled with spiced almondbutter, then wrapped together with lemongrass and baked.
Another pungent savory is the Baigan Sarson, a treat of dicedeggplant wrapped in mustard greens, then crispy fried in ghee.Roasted Okra Raita provides a smooth and mellow touch with thespicy dishes, while the Rhubard & Dried Cherry Chutney adds atangy flavor to the Idli and savouries.
The nectar preparations from the original Chida-dadhi festivalare, we hope, faithfully represented by Chida-dadhi Pots. These twowonderful sweet rices are served in traditional clay bowls. In onepot, chipped rice is prepared in sweet yoghurt with bananas, whilethe second pot contains rice in a sweet, thick kheer with ghee,bananas and camphor.
A milksweet cake, the Gunja-Mala Malpoori is encircled withfresh red and black berries, reminiscent of the garland LordCaitanya Mahaprabhu gave Raghunatha das to wear around hisneck.
Srila Raghunatha dasa gave up eating all foodstuffs after thedeparture from this world of Srila Sanatana, and from that time onRaghunatha would only take buttermilk in leaf cups. He continued inthis way until the departure of Rupa Gosvami, after whichRaghunatha gave up all eating and drinking. In honor of thistopmost associate of the Lord, we offer Banana Leaf Cups ofButtermilk
The feast is complete with a tart Lime Cooler blending honey,ginger and anise that would surely please all those sitting in thePanihati sun, on the banks of Ganga-Ma.
Where is Panihati? Panihati is located on the banks of theGanges 10 miles North of Calcutta (North 24-Parganas north ofmodern day Kolkata – Calcutta), in West Bengal India. It is thesite of many wonderful spiritual pastimes of Sri ChaitanyaMahaprabhu and His close personal associates. In this region atthis time of year June, pre-monsoon it is so hot, often up in themid-to-high 40s C (45 – 50 C), and so humid. The most cooling offoods in such a temperature is yogurt, cool yogurt (dahi or dadhior doi) This pastime of the Lord is about how the devotees pleasedLord Chaitanya and how the Lord reciprocated with the devotees in avery wonderful and pleasing festival called the Panihati Cida-dadhimahotsav.
In the village of Panihati, Raghunatha dasa obtained aninterview with Nityananda Prabhu who was accompanied by manykirtana performers, servants and others. Sitting on a rock under atree on the bank of the Ganges, Lord Nityananda seemed as effulgentas hundreds and thousands of rising suns. Many devotees sat on theground surrounding Him. Seeing the influence of Nityananda Prabhu,Raghunatha dasa was astonished. Raghunatha dasa offered hisobeisances by falling prostrate at a distant place, and the servantof Nityananda Prabhu pointed out, “There is Raghunatha dasa,offering You obeisances.”
Hearing this, Lord Nityananda Prabhu said, “You are a thief.Now you have come to see Me. Come here, come here. Today I shallpunish you,” the Lord called him, but Raghunatha dasa did not gonear the Lord. Then the Lord forcibly caught him and placed Hislotus feet upon Raghunatha dasa’s head. “Make a festival and feedall My associates yogurt and chipped rice.” Hearing this,Raghunatha dasa was greatly pleased.
Raghunatha dasa brought chipped rice, yogurt, milk.sweetmeats, sugar, bananas and ether eatables and placed them allaround. As soon as they heard that a festival was going to be held,all kinds of brahmanas and other gentlemen began to arrive. Thusthere were innumerable people. Seeing the crowd inSriasing,Raghunatha dasa arranged to get more eatables from other villages.He also brought two to four hundred large, round pots. He alsoobtained five or seven especially large earthen pots, and in thesepots a brahmana began soaking chipped rice for the satisfaction ofLard Nityananda.
In one place, chipped rice was soaked in hot milk in each ofthe large pots. then half the rice was mixed with yogurt, sugar andbananas. The other half was mixed with condensed milk and a specialtype of banana known as canpa-kala. Then sugar, clarified butterand camphor were added. After Nityananda Prabhu had changed Hiscloth far a new one and sat on a raised platform, the brahmanabrought before Him the seven huge pots.
On that platform all the most important associates of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, as well as ether important men, sat down in acircle around the Lord. Among them were Ramadasa, Sundarananda,Gadadhara dasa, Murari, Kamalakara, Sadasiva and Purandara.Dhananjaya, Jagadisa, Paramesvara dasa, Mahesa, Gauridas and HodaKrsnadasa were also there, Similarly, Uddharana Datta Thakura andmany other personal associates of the Lord sat on the raisedplatform with Nityananda Prabhu. No one could count them all.
Hearing about the festival, all kinds of learned scholars,brahmanas and priests went there, Lord Nityananda Prabhu honoredthem and made them sit on the raised platform with Him. Everyonewas offered two earthen pots. In one was put chipped rice withcondensed milk and in the ether chipped rice with yogurt. All theother People sat in groups around the platform. No one could counthow many people there were. Each and every one of them was suppliedtwo earthen pots, one of chipped rice soaked in yogurt and theother of chipped rice soaked in condensed milk.
Some of the brahmanas, not having gotten a place on the platform, went to the bank of the Ganges with their two earthenpots and soaked their chipped rice there. Others, who could not geta place even on the bank of the Ganges, got down into the water andbegan eating their two kinds of chipped rice. Thus some sat on theplatform ,some at the base of the platform, and some on the bank ofthe Ganges, and they were all supplied two pots each by the twentymen who distributed the food.
At that time, Raghava Pandita arrived there. Seeing thesituation, he began to laugh in great surprise. He brought manyother kinds of food cooked in ghee and offered them to the Lord.This prasada he first placed before Lord Nityananda and thendistributed among the devotees. Raghava Pandita said to LordNityananda, “For You, sir, I have already offered food to theDeity, but You are engaged in a festival here, and so the food islying there untouched.”
Lord Nityananda replied, “Let Me eat all this food here duringthe day, and I shall eat at your home at night. I belong to acommunity of cowherd boys, and therefore I generally have manycowherd associates with Me. I am happy when we eat together in apicnic like this by the sandy bank of the river. Lord Nityanandamade Raghava Pandita sit down and had two pots delivered to himalso. There were two kinds of chipped rice soaked in them.
When chipped rice had been served to everyone, Lord NityanandaPrabhu, in meditation, brought Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When SriCaitanya Mahaprabhu arrived, Lord Nityananda Prabhu stood up. Theythen saw how the others were enjoying the chipped rice with yogurtand condensed milk. From each and every pot, Lord Nityananda Prabhutook one morsel of chipped rice and pushed it into the mouth of SriCaitanya Mahaprabhu as a joke. In this way Lord Nityananda waswalking through all the groups of eaters, and all the Vaisnavasstanding there were seeing the fun.
No one could understand what Nityananda Prabhu was doing as Hewalked about. Some, however, who were very fortunate, could seethat Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was also present. Then NityanandaPrabhu smiled and sat down. On His right side He kept four pots ofchipped rice that had not been made from boiled paddy. LordNityananda offered Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu a place and had Him sitdawn. Then together the two brothers began eating chipped rice.Seeing Cord Caitanya Mahaprabhu eating with Him, Lord NityanandaPrabhu became very happy and exhibited varieties of ecstatic love.Lord Nityananda Prabhu ordered, “All of you eat, chanting the holyname of Hari. Immediately the holy names “Hari Hari” resounded,filling the entire universe.
When all the Vaisnavas were chanting the holy names “HariHari” and eating, they remembered how Krsna and Balarama ate withtheir companions, the cowherd boys, on the bank of the Yamuna. SriCaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda Prabhu are extremelymerciful and liberal. It was Raghunatha dasa’s good fortune thatThey accepted all these dealings. Who can understand the influenceand mercy of Lord Nityananda Prabhu? He is so powerful that Heinduced Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to come eat chipped rice onthe bank of the Ganges. All the confidential devotees who wereCowherd boys, headed by Sri Ramadas, were absorbed in ecstaticlove. They thought the bank of the Ganges to be the bank of theYamuna.
When the shopkeepers of many other villages heard about thefestival, they arrived there to sell chipped rice, yogurt,sweetmeats and bananas. As they came, bringing all kinds of food,Raghunatha dasa purchased it all. He gave them the price for theirgoods and later fed them the very same food. Anyone who came to seehow these funny things were going on was also fed chipped rice,yogurt and bananas. After Lord Nityananda Prabhu finished eating,He washed His hands and mouth and gave Raghunatha dasa the foodremaining in the four pots. There was food remaining in the threeother big pots of Lord Nityananda, and a brahmana distributed it toall the devotees, giving a morsel to each. Then a brahmanas broughta flower garland, placed the garland on Nityananda Prabhu’s neckand smeared sandalwood pulp All over His body, When a servantbrought betel nuts and offered them to Lord Nityananda, the Lordsmiled and chewed them. With His own hands Lord Nityananda Prabhudistributed to all the devotees whatever flower garlands,sandalwood pulp and betel nuts remained
After receiving the remnants of food left by Lord Nityananda Prabhu, Raghunatha dasa, who was greatly happy, ate some anddistributed the rest among his own associates. Thus have Idescribed the pastimes of Lord Nityananda Prabhu in relation to thecelebrated festival of chipped rice and yogurt.
Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Antya Lila Vol 2 ch 6.
The Meeting of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Raghunatha dasaGosvami
A summary of this chapter is given by Bhaktivinoda Öhakura inhis Amata-pravaha-bhañya as follows. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhuwent into transcendental fits of ecstatic love, Ramananda Raya and Svarüpa Damodara Gosvami attended to Him and satisfied Him as Hedesired. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami had been attempting to come to thelotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for a long time, and finallyhe left his home and met the Lord. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu hadgone to Cantipura on His way to Vandavana, Raghunatha dasa Gosvamihad offered to dedicate his life at the Lord’s lotus feet. in themeantime, however, a Mohammedan official became envious of Hiraeyadasa, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s uncle, and induced some bigofficial court minister to have him arrested. Thus Hiraeya dasaleft his home, but by the intelligence of Raghunatha dasa themisunderstanding was mitigated. Then Raghunatha dasa went toPanihaöi, and, following the order of Nityananda Prabhu, heobserved a festival (ciòa-dadhi-mahotsava) by distributing chippedrice mixed with yogurt. The day after the festival, NityanandaPrabhu gave Raghunatha dasa the blessing that he would very soonattain the shelter of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. After this incident,Raghunatha dasa, with the help of his priest, whose name was Yadunandana acarya, got out of his house by trickery and thus ranaway. Not touching the general path, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami Sritly went to Jagannatha Pure. After twelve days, he arrived inJagannatha Pure at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu entrusted Raghunatha dasa Gosvami to Svarüpa Damodara Gosvami. Therefore another name for Raghunathadasa Gosvami is Svarüpera Raghu, or the Raghunatha of SvarüpaDamodara. For five days Raghunatha dasa Gosvami took prasada at thetemple, but later he would stand at the Siaha-dvara gate and eatonly whatever he could gather by alms. Later he lived by takingalms from various chatras, or food distributing centers. When Raghunatha’s father received news of this, he sent some men andmoney, but Raghunatha dasa Gosvami refused to accept the money.Understanding that Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was living by beggingfrom the chatras, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu presented him with Hisown guija-mala and a stone from Govardhana Hill. Thereafter,Raghunatha dasa Gosvami used to eat rejected food that he hadcollected and washed. This renounced life greatly pleasedboth Svarüpa Damodara Gosvami and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. One day Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took by force some of the same food, thusblessing Raghunatha dasa Gosvami for his renunciation.