Chanda Chakata: Why Do Odia Girls Consume This 'Moon-Shaped' Bhog On Kumar Purnima?
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Almost every Odia is well versed with the saying “12 maasa re 13 paraba”, meaning ’13 festivals in 12 months’. And as an Odia myself, I completely agree with the statement. If we take a look at the Odia Hindu calendar, it's evident that all the months are filled with at least one festivity or the other. However, the month with the most festivities is the month of September or October. From Durga Puja to Kumar Purnima, the particular period of time brings a wide smile to everyone’s face. Why? Because, unlike other regions, Odisha has an extended holiday for 3-4 more days.

As an Odia girl, there are two festivals in a year that continue to be most exciting and fun-filled for me. These two festivals are specifically celebrated by women- the first being Raja and the second is Kumar Purnima. Keeping Raja for another time, let's talk about Kumar Purnima today. Known as Sharad Purnima or Kojagiri Purnima in many other states of India, Kumar Purnima is celebrated in almost all Odia households. The day starts with an early morning offering of fried paddy to the morning moon and ends with an evening moon worship. A quintessential part of the evening worship is the consumption of ‘Chanda Chakata’- a Bhog prepared with fried paddy, cottage cheese, banana and sugar.

Chanda Chakata is made by mixing all the aforementioned ingredients together and then the mixture is served in the shape of a moon on a banana leaf. It is then served as Prasad during the evening Tulsi Puja and savoured by the girls later. On asking about the reason behind its consumption, my mother tried explaining the rationale. First, some girls observe a fast during Kumar Purnima and the consumption of Chanda Chakata has cooling effects on the gut. Second, acidity is a common problem at the end of the monsoon season. To neutralize acidity, Ayurveda recommends milk, milk products and rice flakes. Third, immunity levels are usually low during this season and easy-to-digest and nutritious foods should be consumed widely. And quite evidently, Chanda Chakata serves all these three purposes.

Odia or not, one should definitely try Chanda Chakata. Do let us know how you liked it.