Why do Odias celebrate Chhadakhai?

Why do Odias celebrate Chhadakhai?

Chhadakhai (Odia: ଛାଡ଼ଖାଇ) is a unique festival of Odisha that celebrates the love for non-vegetarian food. It is observed on the next day of Kartik Purnima, the full moon day of the Hindu month of Kartik.

Chhadakhai 2023 Date: 28 November (Tuesday)

Kartik is considered a sacred month by many Hindus, and some people abstain from eating non-vegetarian food, onion, garlic, and other prohibited vegetables during this period. Chhadakhai literally means “having some food after a duration”, and it marks the end of the month-long austerity and the beginning of the winter culinary fiesta.

The historical origin of Chhadakhai

According to some historians, the ritual of Chhadakhai began with the Bali Jatra festivities. Bali Jatra is a grand fair that commemorates the ancient maritime trade between Odisha and Southeast Asia. It is held every year on the banks of Mahanadi river in Cuttack, coinciding with Kartik Purnima.

As per the old Spice Route records, it is said that the wind changed its direction around this time, and the sailors, fishermen, and traders set out for their voyage during this time. The farewell to the sailors, fishermen, and traders was celebrated with a big feast that consisted of a lot of varieties of non-vegetarian food, especially fish, crab, and prawn. This was also the time when the meat was better and the fish moved towards the coast. Many historians believe that this could be the origin of the ritual of Chhadakhai.

The cultural significance of Chhadakhai

Chhadakhai is not just a festival of indulgence, but also a festival of gratitude and joy. It is a way of thanking nature for its bounty and celebrating the abundance of food and life. It is also a way of welcoming the winter season, which is considered auspicious for many rituals and ceremonies.

Chhadakhai is a day when people enjoy the delicacies of non-vegetarian food, such as mansa jhola (chicken or mutton curry), mansa kassa (mutton or chicken dry fry), chingudi besara (prawn in mustard gravy), chingudi bhaja (prawn fry), mudhi ghanta (fish head curry), poda mansa (roasted chicken or mutton), machha bhaja (fish fry), kankada jhola (crab curry), and many more.

Chhadakhai is a festival that showcases the rich and diverse culinary heritage of Odisha. It is a festival that celebrates the love for food and the joy of sharing. It is a festival that reflects the spirit of Odisha and its people.

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