Panihati Festival

Pannihati is a village located on the banks of River Ganges near Kolkatta. Chida means chipped-rice and Dahi means curds. Pannihati Chida-Dahi Utsava means a festival which was celebrated by one of the six primary disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami on the banks of River Ganges in Pannihati with preparations made out of Chida-Dahi.

Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was a devotee of the highest order. He displayed a spirit of renunciation and detachment from the material world at a very early age. He wanted to leave home and join Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in His mission. But Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked him not to do so and assured that Krishna would deliver him soon from the clutches of maya. Two years later, Nityananda Prabhu came to Panihati and stayed there.
At Panihati, he saw Nityananda Prabhu sitting on a rock under a banyan tree on the banks of the River Ganges. He was surrounded by many devotees. Raghunatha dasa was hesitant to approach the Lord and paid obeisances from a distance. But some of the devotees noticed him and informed Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu called Raghunatha dasa and said “Raghunatha dasa! You are hiding like a thief. Now I have caught hold of you. Come here. I shall punish you today.’’ Then Lord Nityananda forcibly caught him and put His lotus feet on Raghunatha’s head. He ordered Raghunatha to celebrate a big festival and serve all the devotees – with yogurt and chipped rice.

Raghunatha dasa immediately sent his men to the nearby villages to purchase all kinds of eatables. They brought chipped rice (chida), milk, yogurt, sweetmeats, bananas, sugar and other eatables. The chipped rice was soaked in milk. Half of that was then mixed with yogurt, sugar and bananas. The remaining half was mixed with condensed milk and flavoured with clarified butter and camphor. All the devotees received two earthen pots, one with chipped rice mixed with yogurt and another with chipped rice mixed with condensed milk.

The Chida-dahi Mahotsava is celebrated every year in commemoration of this wonderful pastime. This festival is also known as Danda Mahotsava (the Festival of Punishment).

Every year on the occasion of Pannihati Chida Dahi Utsava, along with the Deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai more than 400 devotees from ISKCON, Mysuru go on a pilgrimage to a holy place on banks of sacred rivers like Cauvery, Kapila, Kabini etc…to celebrate the festival. Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai are taken on a boat ride (Theppotsava), followed by a dip in the holy river. The Deities are then given a Grand abhishekam with milk, curds, ghee, honey, jaggery water and fruit juices. Sri Sri Gaura Nita are then bathed with Nava Kalasha’s filled with water from sacred rivers all over India. After the Abhishekam, while the Deities are offered varieties of preparations are made by mixing chipped rice with condensed milk, yogurt, sugar, bananas, mangoes, there is a discourse elucidating the pastimes of Pannihati Chida Dahi Utsava . After honoring feast Chida-Dahi Maha Prasadam, all the devotees visit some more holy temples before returning to Mysuru.