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Nakshi pithe- where art and delicacy meet in Bengal

26 July, 2020 02:08:35
Nakshi pithe- where art and delicacy meet in Bengal

When sleep is sacrificed in favour of scriptures and storytelling, while churning out artistic Nakshi pithes, the immortal verse of poet Jasimuddin comes to our mind. The tale of love between Shaju and Rupai and the ‘Field of the Embroidered Quilt’ have been household stories for many. Nakshi Kanthar Maath somehow merges with the artistic splendour of Bengal’s very own Nabanna dessert of Nakshi pithes.

About thirty years ago, when villages of Bengal were far from rapid urbanisation, Bengali harvest festival of Nabanna used to be celebrated with home-made delicacies. Despite globalisation changing the focus of Bengal’s dessert platter from indigenous pithepuli to cup-cakes and choco-balls, the seasonal cycle of Nabanna still brings an unknown fervour. Each year, every traditional household in the Bengali community makes an attempt to prepare the rice cakes or pithes, to hold on to that sheer nostalgia of Jasimuddin’s verse and the essence of rural Bengal.

In the ’70s and ’80s, villages of Bangladesh rarely cultivated flowers, but residents were very fond of floral motifs that popped up in the most unlikely places: On a nose ring, bow of a ribbon, or even on a pithe. Such floral pithes were called ‘Phool (flower) pithes’ or ‘Nakshipithes.’ These home-made delicacies were served to guests all year round that created the perfect opportunity for family members to showcase their unique artistic talents in a relatively mundane context of everyday culinary skills.

Indeed, the Bengali way of life is always steeped in artistry, in the manner we eat, sleep and express ourselves. The particular art of creating intricate patterns on desserts has the fingerprints of the ever innovative and evolving Bengali bride. The Nakshipithe happens to be such a shining star, fresh from Bengal’s kitchens. Originating from the fertile grounds, this loving and imaginative art form speaks of the simple aesthetic pleasures of a life, anchored in reality, but often venturing into the realms of fantasy.

Bengal’s very own tradition of Nakshipithe denotes a specific geographical region like the classical music gharanas of North India. Making of Nakshipithes need boundless patience and immense labour. It is veritably a strenuous, long-drawn arrangement with a multitude of delicate steps that need to be dealt with, before the pithe is finally ready for tasting. Just like embroidering blankets or drawing alpanas, a Bengali woman’s loving tenderness, goes into etching of each pattern. In reality, Bengali women simply love to serve their dear ones, dishes they prepare with their own hands. And it is their intrinsic affinity for creating beauty all around that transforms an ordinary rice pithe into an extraordinary work of art.

Story Tag:
  • Food, Bengali Community

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