What is Pitha Utshob (পিঠা উত্সব)?
Many Bangladeshi organizations around the world organize this festivity call “Pitha Utshob (পিঠা উত্সব)” to promote and maintain the heritage and the vibrant rich culture of Bangladesh. During the festival cultural programs such as Music, children’s dance, art competition, singing, drawing, magic show, puthi (পুঁথি) reading, jari (জারি) song and live Pitha making demonstration take place. Most events are free to attend.
Pitha (পিঠা), is a Bangla word that refers to an indigenous food and food tradition of Bangladesh and spreading some parts of India specially Bangla speaking region of India. Pitha Utshob (পিঠা উত্সব), are a part of food tradition and food culture of Bangladeshi cuisine and occupies an important place in our culinary culture emphasizing on the importance of preserving and popularizing this art. For Bangalis it has been a long tradition to make varieties of Pitha, particularly in the winter.
For Pitha there is no similar word in English. To explain others in English we interpret Pitha as a rice cake. But it’s not like the traditional cake or pie what is common in the western world and in their food culture. Pithas are primarily made from a batter of rice flour or wheat flour, which is shaped and optionally filled with sweet or savory ingredients. When filled, the pitha’s pouch is called a khol (lit. “container”) and the fillings are called pur.
Sweet Pithas typically include sugar, jaggery, date juice, or palm syrup, and can be filled with grated coconut, cashews, pistachios, sweetened vegetables, or fruits. Sweet Pithas are also often flavored using cardamom or camphor. For stuffed vegetable Pithas, ingredients such as cauliflower, cabbage, radish, or potato are usually fried, baked, or steamed, and then mashed, cooled, and formed into small balls to stuff into the Pithas.
Pithas are prepared by different ways and that give different test. Depending on the type of Pitha being prepared, Pithas can be fried in ghee, oil, slow- roasted over a fire, steamed or baked and rolled over a hot plate. Traditionally in Bangladesh Pithas are prepared and served on special occasion, such as receiving bridegrooms or brides, entertaining guests and arranging special get together of family members, relatives or friends. Pithas are often eaten at small meals, such as breakfast or as a snack with tea, although there are many sweet varieties that are reserved for desserts or holidays.
In 1991, the Shishu Academy of Dhaka, Bangladesh arranged an exhibition of pithas, where 106 categories of Pithas were displayed. Pithas are popular all over the country and each area has its unique type of pithas. The most common and popular Pithas that are well known throughout Bangladesh are Chitoi Pitha, Patishapta, Pakan, Bhapa Pitha, Andosha, Kulshi Pitha, Pata Pitha, Jhuri Pitha, Muthi Pitha, Roser Pitha and many more. #RuchiNai