By SHAGUFTA HAQUE – Winter in the United States implies hot chocolate, snow, and Christmas. Winter back home in Bangladesh is much more different.
The word “pitha” in Bangla refers to an indigenous food item that is nationally popular. Sweet dishes like bhapa pitha, patishapta, dudher shondesh, etc are the most common examples. “Utshob”, on the other hand, means festival. Thus, combined, pitha utshob is a glorious exhibition in Bangladesh during the winter season where people get together to set up stalls and sell their homemade pithas.
Pithas are traditionally made with ingredients such as sugar, molasses, milk, palm syrup/ date juice, and sometimes coconut.
- Bhapa Pitha: Steamed rice cakes made with ground rice flour, molasses, and grated coconut (optional)
- Dudh Chitoi: Flat, steamed “pancakes” made with rice flour, soaked in the rich syrup of milk and molasses.
Some, however, can be savory items when stuffed with cauliflower, potato, or cabbage. There is no formulaic preparation for pithas; every pitha has a unique recipe.
- Puli Pitha (can be made sweet): Steamed dumplings stuffed with the mouth-watering combination of vegetables or lentils and roasted spices.
- Jhaal Pitha: Rice flour dough with turmeric and ginger which is eventually stuffed and fried with egg and vegetables.
Outside of the heavenly delicacies, Pitha Utshob involves people having a good time together. Everyone dresses up in the traditional attire of sarees for women and panjabi-pajama for men. They put on sweaters and shawls with the traditional stitches and enjoy the mild cold.
Next to the pitha stalls are musical and dance performances. Everyone joins in on the singing and becomes a part of the warm community that Bangladesh is. While most people showcase their pitha-making to customers in this festival, some people exhibit their artwork and handicrafts as well.
Pitha Utshob is more than just an event for enjoying the delicious pithas, it is an event that brings hundreds and thousands of Bangladeshis closer.
Below are photos of the several different pithas and stalls present at this festival.
Shagufta is a senior and a first-year reporter for the High Arrow who plays on the high school tennis team, is a member of the Science Club, and enjoys writing more than anything. As a first-year reporter for the High Arrow, she wants to be able to provide others with entertaining and informative articles to read.