BaiHandi Tradition at Lord Jagannath Dham, Puri
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 hundred persons along with dal, curry, and sour curry (khata). The legend behind the creation is very astonishing and interesting too. In a village named Pandarpur of 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 oppertunity to come to Shrikhetra (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 Shrikhetra, hence she did not return back to her native village Pandarpur, and she lived in Puri by the side of Grand Road by 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 sung devotional songs with all her heart and 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 her 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) and 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 gods always look 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 also gave her due respect. However the servitors did not obey the order of the Gajapati. They told that the Prasad cooked outside the temple premises cannot be offered to the Lord. Lady Karmabai was highly disappointed. Since then Khechudi could not be offered at the right time. Some day it was unholy or due to some abysmal incident the Prasad was discarded.
This continued for seven days until 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". Till now the Baihandi tradition of offering the Mahadei Pak to the Lord Jagannath is practiced.
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