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Pahala- a village flourishing with Rasgulla Business

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By Ila Garg and Arnab Mitra

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An inescapable fragrance of sweets imbues the streets of Pahala, a place between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. Innumerable sweet shops, on either side of the road, are definitely an amazing sight to savour on.

Kelu Charan Mohanty, the man behind the fame of Pahala told NewsGram, “It was way back in 1965 when I came here and opened my first sweet shop. Initially, we sold sweets at a price of Re 1 per piece.”

When asked from where had he learnt the art of making Rasgulla, he said, “I joined the famous KC Das sweet shop in the year 1945, and worked there for 20 years. But soon the monotonous routine started to bore me; it was then that I decided to make Rasgullas on my own at my native place.”

In 60’s Pahala had no facilities, nothing at all. Illiteracy and malnutrition were widespread. The lack of electricity added to the plight. The only source of income for the people was mushroom farming.

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Mohanty’s initiative inspired the natives and from the initial one shop, Pahala gradually made way for almost hundred and fifty shops. Once a village stricken in poverty, Pahala is now filled with well to do families. The natives now own good homes and their children are well educated too. But the most interesting fact is that the family members are still devoted to the Rasgulla business and even the raw materials that they use are all home-made.

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About a hundred and fifty shops are spread in a stretch of 2 kms on the national highway, where the artisans work hard every day to make delicious Rasgullas. The Rasgullas are priced at a very reasonable rate that ranges between Rs. 3 to Rs. 6 per piece.

The economy of Pahala villages is thus, based on the Rasgulla business, and according to Harihar Behra, “The profit per day varies between Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000, and during the festive seasons it reaches to Rs. 3000.” Regardless of all the expense made on the shop maintenance and other amenities, the owner is able to save around Rs. 1000 per day easily.

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The sweets are made using some extraordinary techniques. At first, cheena is processed for around five hours in a wooden stove to make it thin. Then tiny cheena balls are made, which are then processed for two hours in slightly saccharine water. They ensure that the end product is ready by 4 PM to be sold in the shops. The shops remain open till 9 PM. Besides Rasgulla, they also make different kinds of sweets like cheena bada, ledikeni, swarvaja and other delicious sweets.

They also supply Rasgullas to the other shops of Orissa. In addition, they get orders for different occasions, like marriage ceremony and birthday party. The quality and taste of their Rasgullas get appreciated across the nation. They are now trying to conquer the markets of Kolkata too. Their sweets are also sent to Sussex, England and other parts of the world.

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Pahala narrates the story of about hundred and fifty odd artists who work hard every day and yet these people are neglected by the government. Even the condition of roads is pathetic here and it often hampers their daily business. But, the artists never compromise with their creation. It can be seen as the infamous village came to limelight due to the struggle and dedication of the people of Pahala.

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31 Years of Raja Sweets in US: How Indian Food Landed in Houston?

The restaurant was featured in American television show "Cooking in America", hosted by Sheldon Simeon, who visited the 31-year-old spot, now the cornerstone of the city’s “Little India” district

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Raja Sweets
Raja Sweets Restaurant in US. Wikimedia
  • Raja Sweets was the first Indian Restaurants to open in Houston back in 1986 by the Gahunia Family
  • Edibles at the restaurant are freshly made by hand from the scratch and are delectable to devour
  • The restaurant was featured in American television show “Cooking in America”

June 27, 2017: People come to another country for better live or work but you want to feel like home someday and Raja Sweets strive to give that feeling to its Indian customers. First assembled in India and then housed in the middle of Houston, Raja Sweets was the first Indian Restaurants to open back in 1986 by the Gahunia Family.

Joginderi Gahuniya is the founding father of Indian food in Houston.Today, Sharan Gahuniya is keeping her father’s legacy alive alongside her mother.

Sharan revived: “My dad’s motto was to bring the streets of India to Hillcroft (Street), we make food the way you find it in India.”

While in Houston, the Gahuniya family realised that there was no place to Indian get together restaurant. during Diwali or Ramadan.  

Edibles at Raja Sweets are made by hand from the scratch and are fresh to devour. From the rasgulla (chhena dough boiled in sweet syrup) to gulab jamun (milk balls dipped in rose syrup) to jalebi (deep-fried flour in syrup), Raja Sweets has it all to retreat their Indian customers. 

 Raja Sweets also has loyal customers, one of them pays a visit every single day from the past 12 years. Sharan’s father had the vision to be successful in America, having said that the family worked hard to make their dream come true. Raja Sweets is now the longest running restaurants in Texas.

The restaurant was featured in American television show “Cooking in America”, hosted by Sheldon Simeon, who visited the 31-year-old spot, now the cornerstone of the city’s “Little India” district.

– prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94

 

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Four-day Festival of Orissa ‘Raja Parba’ is all about celebrating Womanhood

Girls are forbidden from all kinds of manual work during the first three days of the festival

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An Indian Village woman. Image source: festivalsherpa.com
  • Raja is generally associated with the farmers and is celebrated during the onset of monsoons
  • Girls are forbidden from all kinds of manual work during these three days of the festival
  • The young men of the village keep themselves busy in various types of country games, the most favourite being ‘Kabadi’

When the world is fighting for gender related issues, quite a few people are aware that one state in India are celebrating the Festival of Womanhood. The indigenous people of Orissa celebrates a four-day festival ‘Raja Parba’ to celebrate womanhood. Popularly known as Mithuna Sankranti, this festival also inaugurates and welcomes the agricultural year. The four-day festival falls on the first day of the month of Asadha (June-July) from which the rainy season starts, thus moistening the summer parched soil and making it ready for productivity.

As per mythology, It is believed that the mother goddess Earth (Bhumidevi) or the divine wife of Lord Vishnu undergoes menstruation during the first three days. The first day is called Pahili Raja, second day is Mithuna Sankranti, third day is Bhu daaha or Basi Raja. The term Raja has come from Rajaswala (meaning a menstruating woman.) Like Hindu women who are asked to abstain from work, Mother Earth is given rest by terminating all the agricultural activities like ploughing, plucking flowers , scratching earth and any other thing that would hurt Mother Earth.

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Image Source: dishaDiary.tv

Girls are forbidden from all kinds of manual work during these three days of the festival. They don’t carry water, cut vegetables, and sweep the houses. Neither do they sew clothes, grind grains, comb hair or walk in bare foot The very first day, they rise before dawn, do their hair, anoint their bodies with turmeric paste and oil and then take the purificatory bath in a river or tank. During all the first three days ,women and unmarried girls look their best. They are seen in the best of dresses and decorations, eating cakes and rich food at the houses of friends and relatives and enjoy tree swings and play indoor games. This creates a happy and joyful atmosphere throughout the town .

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The fourth day is called Vasumati snan, where the ladies bath the grinding stone as a symbol of ‘Bhumi’ with turmeric paste and adore with flower and sindoor.

The young men of the village keep themselves busy in various types of country games, the most favourite being ‘Kabadi’. Competitions are also held between different groups of villages. All nights ‘Yatra’ performances or ‘Gotipua’ dances are arranged.Plays and other kinds of entertainment also take place.

This year in 2016, Raja Parba will be celebrated from June 14-17. Almost every village in Orissa transforms into a land filled with love ,celebrating the beauty of life during the four- day festival.

-by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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