The Creation of Baihandi Mahadei Mahaprasad
BY: PITAMBAR PRADHANI
Sep 22, BIMANABADU SAHI, PURI (SUN) Baihandi is famous amongst the cooks (suar) and super-cooks (maha suar) of Puri Jagannath Temple as an earthen pot that contains Prasad which can satisfy a hundred persons, along with dal, curry, and sour curry (khata). The legend behind the creation of Baihandi is very astonishing and interesting.
In a village named Pandarpur in Maharastra Province lived a lady named Karmabai, who was not only wealthy, but also was cultured, intelligent and a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. She was deeply devoted to Lord Jagannath. Once she had an opportunity to come to Shrikshetra (Puri) with her religious teacher, Indravarma, to pay homage to the Lord of the Universe, Lord Jagannath.
But after having a glance of Lord Jagannath, she got a spiritual calling to stay back in Shrikshetra, hence she did not return to her native village Pandarpur. She lived in Puri by the side of Grand Road, building a house for the rest of her life with her religious Guru, Indravarma. Lady Karmabai had a very soothing and fine tone and she sang devotional songs with all her heart. Other devotees gathered to hear her singing with utmost respect and attention. Indravarma used to explain the essence of the Jagannath culture to the devotees in an articulate manner.
Lady Karmabai kept an effigy (Idol) of Lord Jagannath in her house and gave Him holy offerings every day. Once she thought of offering khechudi (specially cooked, mixed rice) to the Lord. Hence she purchased an earthen pot from the local traditional potter (kumbhara), cooked khechudi and offered it to the Almighty with all her prayers. She got so keen in offering khechudi that she made it a must to offer it everyday with utmost devotion.
As God always looks forward to the offerings made by the devotee, Lord Jagannath ate the khechudi prasad with keen interest. Being deeply satisfied with her offerings, the Lord informed the Gajapati (King of Puri) through a dream saying, "There lives a lady devotee of mine by the side of Grand Road named Karmabai, who offers me delicious khechudi everyday. Hence, I would like her offerings to be given to me within the temple premises".
The Gajapati, on receiving the Lord's command, ordered the khechudi prasad prepared by Karmabai to be added along with other daily offerings. The Gajapati also recognized Karmabai as one of the supreme devotees of Lord Jagannath and gave her due respect.
However, the servitors did not obey the order of the Gajapati. They said that the prasad cooked outside the temple premises cannot be offered to the Lord. Lady Karmabai was highly disappointed.
Since then, khechudi could not seem to be offered at the right time by temple cooks. One day it was unholy, or ruined due to some abysmal incident and the prasad was discarded. This continued for seven days until finally, the servitors actually changed their mind and allowed Karmabai to bring her cooked khechudi, and thus included this extra item along with the rest, as per the command of the Lord.
As time passed the typical earthen pot in which Karmabai cooked became famous as "Baihandi", and her offerings were well known as Lakhmi Pak or Mahadei Pak. To this day, the Baihandi tradition of offering the Mahadei Pak to Lord Jagannath is practiced.