Image Courtesy: WikipediaThe Bengali month of Poush, the winter month brings different opportunities for the Bengalis to hog on to their favourite sweet delicacies. The last day of Poush is celebrated as Poush Sankranti in West Bengal and Bangladesh. This day is considered auspicious among the Hindus and pilgrims from different parts of the country gather at Gangasagar, the point where Ganga river meets the Bay of Bengal. Pilgrims come here with the belief that- an early morning dip in the river will wash away their earthly sins, this fair is knows as "Gangasagar Mela".
This last day of Poush is celebrated as "Poush Parbon" (Bengali: পৌষপার্বণ |Meaning: The Poush Festival) or "Pithe Parbon" (পিঠেপারবন) - this is the most awaited day for all the bengali sweet lovers as various sweet delicacies are prepared. Since olden times, mothers, grandmothers used to make Patishapta Pithas, Puli pithas, Malpuas and various other types of pithas and these pithas are to be coupled with Nolen Gur (a exclusive jaggery that is produced by date trees or palm trees only in winter months and only in Bengal). This can be said as the festival that is purely based on the Pleasure of eating and tickling the taste buds with delightful Pithas.
Pithas, supposed to be home made sweets though now they are commercially available during Pitha Parbon, generally it has its outer layer composed of rice or wheat flour and has inner stuffing with different saviouries like grated coconut mixed with nolen gur etc. There are various other types of Pithas which are made in the households.
Mothers and grandmothers take charge of pithe parbon, and preparations for pitha making starts about a week before the Poush Parbon. Truely i need to mention that, technology has made preparation methods much easier and faster compared to early days.
In today's fast paced life it is not possible for every mother to prepare pithas specially if she's a working woman. Thus, keeping this into consideration "Poush Parbon" events are organized in various localities in Bengal where we get to taste not just pithas but also mouth watering Malpuas & Nolen Gurer payesh. If a person wants to enjoy the true essence of "Poush Parbon" its not the cities but the villages of Bengal that takes away all the credit.
Enjoy Poush Parbon, stuff yourself with loads of sweets but don't forget to hit the gym the next morning !