Reported by Lingaraj Sahu
Bhubaneswar, Mar 30:
Shortage of firewood and earthen pots, coupled with water supply issues, has put a serious question mark over the availability of the famed abadha, the holy cuisine that is standard fare on religious and social occasions for thousands in Odisha, at the Lord Ananta Vasudeva temple here in the long run.
The famed abadha of the Lord is the most sought after holy meal in Odisha after Lord Jagannath’s abadha. On an avearage day, 3000 to 5000 devotees partake of the abadha at the temple everyday while the number swells many times over on special occasions like sankranti and religious festivals. The badia dalma and pachedi made at the temple are the special attraction of the Ananata Vasudeva abadha.
However, the long-term prospects of this service has come into question due to lack of firewood, water and the traditional clay pots needed to serve the abadha.
“We need 17, 500 litres of water for cooking alone. Then there is water required for drinking. But all that we get is 10000 litres of water in two tanks and in 30 drums near the kitchen for cooking. While PHD department supplies this water, they give us only 2-3 tanks of water in case of a power outage leading to acute shortage of drinking water,” said Managovinda Mahasupakar.
“We need 40-50 quintals of firewood a day to make abadha. It is getting tough to collect this huge quantity of firewood. Earlier, we used to get a smooth supply from Puri area and each seller used to stock 2-4 cart full of stock. Now, due to lack of pots and inconsistent supply, we need to stock 5-8 cartfulls. Also the rising prices of pots are affecting the devotees directly,” he added.
As it is, getting earthen pots in adequate numbers is becoming difficult by the day because of the construction activities on the land formerly used for extraction of earth for the making of kuduas (earthen pots).
It may be noted that almost 280 servitors from 127 families have been employed in this business. While almost 80 cooks from Brahman Sahi of Old town in the city are employed to prepare the dishes for the abadha, almost 200 helpers help these cooks in facilitation of water, cutting vegetables and transportation etc.
Abadha is prepared in a long thatched house with 16 rooms and 25 cookers and then sold via 22 stalls. Orders increase significantly during times of marriage ceremony, thread ceremony, shraddha and other such religious occasions.