By: Mahanidhi Swami
Two days before Ratha-yatra, all the devotees from Bengal arrived at the Gambhira in Jagannatha Puri. For the pleasure of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Raghava Pandita brought many bags of food that had been very nicely prepared and carefully packed by his sister, Damayanti. The bags of food that Damayanti lovingly made for Mahaprabhu have become famous throughout the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya as raghavera jhaali.
Damayanti made varieties of unparalleled food that were the favorites of Mahaprabhu, which the Lord relished continually for one year. The many tasty foods included a hundred varieties of condiments and pickles, various sweets from milk, cream and grains, rich tasty dishes from dried and flat rice. Because of her intense affection for Mahaprabhu, Damayanti thought that Gauranga might get indigestion from eating the heavy foods. So she also packed digestive aids in the bags, such as dried karela and other bitter vegetables known as sukutaa, which help digestion. Mahaprabhu derived more happiness from eating this sukutaa than from drinking pancamrta. Other digestive aids were small sweet balls made of dried ginger, and also one of powdered coriander and anise seeds. Damayanti ingeniously created an amazing digestive aid by drying, powdering and straining mud from the Ganga. Then she mixed in aromatic ingredients and rolled it into small balls.
Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja sums Damayanti’s pure love offering by saying, “I could not mention the names of all these wonderful eatables, even in a lifetime. Damayanti made hundreds and thousands of varieties.”
This blissful spiritual festival, which is still celebrated in Jagannatha Puri every year two days before Ratha-yatra is called “Gaura Gambhira me Raghava Panditaji ka Jhaali Samarpana”.
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!