Be it Odisha’s famous Raja Parba (pronounced: raw-jaw) or Rath Yatra, poda pitha is a must-have in every Odia household. Made with rice, lentils, coconut, and jaggery, poda pitha is an absolute delight to our sweet tooth. The dough is steamed till a char is formed on the top, sliced into medium-sized cubes, and then deep-fried in ghee. 

Most Odiyas are unaware of the history behind serving poda pitha to the three deities of the Puri Shree Mandir during the world-renowned Chariot Festival or Rath Yatra. It is tradition for the deities to halt at the Mausi Maa temple while returning to their abode and have a bite of poda pitha.  

Legend has it that in the Tretaya Yug, when Kaikeyi realized her mistake of forcing Lord Ram to go to the forest, she felt guilty. To conciliate her guilt, Ram promised that he would visit her in his next birth to have poda pitha. Since then, the Mausi Maa temple is considered to be Kaikeyi’s residence. Every year, the three chariots stop at the Mausi maa temple on Bahuda Yatra (the returning journey) to have poda pitha.  

Poda pitha is also one of the chhappan bhog (56 dishes served to the Lord) and is served to the deities after every meal. Although poda ptha is a traditional dish, every Odia household has a different recipe and story of the same dish. With the evolution of modern cooking equipment, poda pitha is nowadays made either in a microwave oven or pressure cooker instead of an earthen pot and wooden embers. The cooking time has also been reduced from eight hours to one hour with the use of modern fermenting agents. Whatever the cooking style might be, poda pitha will always be the essence of most Odia festivals and will always have a special place in every Odia’s heart.