Bhubaneswar, Jan 12: Baula Amavasya marks one of the vibrant festivals celebrated in Odisha. This joyous occasion occurs on the new moon day of the Hindu month of Pausha, typically falling in either December or January according to the Odia almanac.
A fascinating aspect of this festival involves Lord Srikrishna's profound affection for mangoes. During the Dola festival in Phalguna (March), mango flowers (Amba Baula) and newly plucked mangoes in clusters (Amba Pentha) adorn the Dola Biman as Lord Radha Krishna venture out in palanquins to receive offerings from their devotees.
The Amba Baula and mangoes carry deep symbolism, representing the essence of love. Devotees present mangoes as offerings to the deities, and the worship of mango trees commences as soon as the trees begin to bloom with flowers.
On the day of Baula Amavasya, Gaintha cakes made from raw rice (arua) become a significant part of the festivities. These cakes, known as Baula Gaintha, are offered to the deities.
A unique belief surrounds the Baula Gaintha ritual, as people hold that the mango tree branch touched by these cakes will bloom with flowers. In a spirited gathering, family members congregate near the mango tree, enthusiastically hurling Baula Gaintha in the belief that this ritual will bring forth a blossoming display of flowers on the revered tree.
Let’s prepare Khira Gaintha:
Khira Gaintha (Rice balls):
1 cup basmati rice
4 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar (adjust according to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
A pinch of saffron strands (optional)
Chopped nuts (almonds, pistachios) for garnish
For Gaintha (Dumplings):
1 cup rice flour
Water for kneading
A pinch of salt
Rinse the basmati rice thoroughly and soak it in water for about 30 minutes.
In a heavy-bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil.
Drain the soaked rice and add it to the boiling milk. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking, until the rice is fully cooked and the mixture thickens. This may take around 20-25 minutes.
Add sugar and continue to cook until the sugar dissolves, and the kheer reaches your desired consistency.
Stir in cardamom powder and saffron strands. Remove from heat and let it cool.
For Gaintha (Dumplings):
In a bowl, combine rice flour, a pinch of salt, and enough water to make a smooth and pliable dough.
Divide the dough into small portions and shape them into small balls or dumplings.
Once the kheer has cooled slightly, gently add the rice flour dumplings to it.
Simmer the kheer with dumplings for an additional 10-15 minutes until the dumplings are cooked through.
Garnish with chopped nuts.
Serve Khira Gaintha (Kheer Puli) warm or chilled. Enjoy this delicious and traditional Indian dessert! Adjust sugar quantities according to your taste preference.