Danda Mahotsav

The Danda Mahotsav or Chida-Dadhi Mahotsav, also known as the Chipped Rice Festival of Panihati, is a yearly celebration of the pastimes of Shrila Raghunatha Dasa,son of a wealthy Landlord of Saptagram who obtained the Bliss or ‘Chaitanya” through “Danda dan” of Sri Nityananda through ‘Chida Festival”. This astonishing pastime took place on the banks of the Ganges at Panihati. Sri Chaitanya and his associates enjoyed many transcendental pastimes here as such this festival and place have great significance to the Baishnabs.

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Chida-dadhi Mahotsav remembers how the Lord mercifully reciprocated with His devotees by arranging, through Nityananda Prabhu and Raghunatha dasa, to provide an ecstatic feast of yoghurt and chipped rice, along with various other nectar foodstuffs.

Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami, was the only son of the king of Saptagram. Those days, Bengal was a glorious province and the port of Bengal Saptagram was the most opulent place. The annual income of Raghunatha dasa’s family was twenty lakhs rupees. His standard of material happiness was equal to that of Indra, the King of heaven. In his boyhood Raghunatha dasa became attracted to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and got mad with ecstasy of love of the Lord. Time and time again he tried to run away from home and go to Nilachala to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but his father’s men caught him and brought him back. His father locked him up and appointed eleven guards to watch him.
When Lord Caitanya came to Santipur from Puri Raghunatha went to see Him. He revealed his heart to the Lord and begged Him to take him to Puri. But the Lord instructed him to go back home, take care of his duties with a mood of detachment and worship Sri Sri Radha-Krishna in the mind. He assured him that he would meet Him in Jagannatha Puri as He returned there from Vrindavan. With broken heart Raghunatha went back home, and took care of his worldly duties according to that instruction of the Lord. His parents became very pleased to see this transformation.
Then with the ropes of His causeless mercy, Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu employed a trick to deliver Raghunatha dasa Goswami from the blind well of contemptible family life.

It happened as follows. One day, Raghunatha got the news that Nityananda Prabhu came to Panihati. He immediately went to meet Him there. Sitting on a rock under a tree on the bank of the Ganges with all His main associates, Lord Nityananda seemed as effulgent as hundreds and thousands of rising suns. Many devotees sat on the ground surrounding Him. (The banyan tree, under which Lord Nityananda sat is still here and nowadays during this festival the place is crowded as it was 500 years ago.)

Linked below is an excerpt from Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya lila chapter 6, which describes this wonderful pastime in detail.

Raghunath son of Jaminder of Saptagram
Raghunatha dasa has opulence like Indra, and his wife is as beautiful as an Apsara, and yet his mind has still not been captivated. How then could we keep him at home merely by binding him with ropes? Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has fully bestowed His mercy upon our son. Who can keep at home such a madman of Shri Chaitanyachandra?

Raghunath comes to Panihati to see Sri Chaitanya and Nityananda
Then, one day, after coming to some decision within his mind, Raghunatha dasa went to see Nityananda Prabhu at Panihati. While sitting upon a rock by the side of the Ganga, Lord Nityananda appeared to be as effulgent as thousands of rising suns. Seated upon the ground, surrounding the Lord, were innumerable kirtana singers, servants and other devotees, and upon witnessing the wonderful influence of Nityananda Prabhu, Raghunatha dasa became highly astonished.

Nityananda’s merciful and funny punishment “Danda”
As he remained at a distant place, a servant informed Lord Nityananda, There is Raghunatha dasa, offering You obeisances. Nityananda Prabhu then called to Raghunatha Dasa, You are a thief. Now, since you have come here to see Me, I shall punish you. Come here, come here. Although summoned in this way, Raghunatha dasa did not approach Nityananda Prabhu. The Lord then got up and forcibly caught hold of Raghunatha dasa and placed His lotus feet upon his head. Lord Nityananda is by nature very merciful and funny. He told Raghunatha dasa, You are just like a thief, because instead of coming near, you remain at a distance. However, now that I have captured you, I shall punish you.

Order to hold Chida Dahi Festival
I hereby command you to hold a festival and feed all of My associates dahi (yogurt) and chira (flat rice). Upon hearing this, Raghunatha dasa became greatly pleased, and he immediately sent his servants to the village to purchase all kinds of food.

Crowd swelling at festival
As soon as word spread that a festival was being held, innumerable brahmanas and other gentlemen came there, and upon seeing how the crowd was increasing, Raghunatha dasa arranged to get more food from neighboring villages.

Two or four hundred large clay pots, preparation of Dhai Chida
In addition, he had two or four hundred large clay pots brought, as well as seven especially large pots in which a brahmana began soaking flat-rice for the satisfaction of Lord Nityananda. First, all of the chira was soaked in hot milk, and then half of it was mixed with dahi, sugar and bananas. The other half was mixed with condensed milk and a special type of banana called champa-kela, and then sugar, ghee, and camphor were added.

Principal associates participation Ramadasa, Gadadhara dasa, Murari, Sadashiva, Hoda Krishnadasa and Uddharana Datta Thakura – countless in numbers
After changing His clothes, Nityananda Prabhu sat down on a raised platform, and the brahmana brought the seven huge pots and placed them before Him. All of the Lord’s principle associates sat surrounding Him on the raised platform, and among these were Ramadasa, Gadadhara dasa, Murari, Sadashiva, Hoda Krishnadasa and Uddharana Datta Thakura. Indeed, the Lord’s associates were so numerous that no one could properly count them. In addition, Nityananda Prabhu honored all the brahmanas and learned scholars who came there by having them sit along with Him on the raised platform.

Twenty servers distribute and large gathering swelling to water
Thereafter, everyone was given two clay pots, by twenty servers- one containing chira and dahi, and the other, chira and condensed milk. People sat in groups all around the raised platform, and some of the brahmanas who could not find any space on the platform went to the banks of the Ganga with their two clay pots. Some people could not even find room on the shore and so they went into the water and began eating their two kinds of chira.

Raghava Pandita come with varieties of food
At that time, Raghava Pandita arrived there, and upon seeing the situation, he began laughing due to great surprise. He then brought many varieties of food cooked in ghee, and offered them to Lord Nityananda. Later, the remnants were distributed to all the devotees. Raghava Pandita then said, My dear Lord, I have prepared so many varieties of food at my house, and have offered them all to the Deity. But, because You are engaged in a festival here, all the prasada is simply lying untouched. Lord Nityananda replied, Let Me eat all of this food now, and then tonight I shall dine at your house. I belong to a community of cowherd boys, and so I am happy to have a picnic like this on the sandy banks of the river, along with My associates.

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu joins with Nityananda for, joyous feast feeding each other, exhibited various manifestations of ecstatic love.
Lord Nityananda had Raghava Pandita sit down, and He ordered that two pots of chira be served to him. After everyone had been given prasada, Nityananda Prabhu summoned Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in meditation. As soon as Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu arrived, Nityananda Prabhu stood up, and together, the two Lords began to observe how everyone was enjoying their two kinds of chira.
Then, from each and every pot, Nityananda Prabhu took a morsel of chira and pushed it into Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mouth as a joke. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also took a morsel of food and pushed it into Nityananda Prabhu’s mouth and laughingly make Him eat it. In this way, Lord Nityananda walked through the various groups, so that all of the devotees were able to enjoy watching the fun. However, no one could really understand what Nityananda Prabhu was doing as He walked about, except for some very fortunate few who could see that Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was also present.
Nityananda Prabhu then smilingly sat down next to four of the large pots of chira, and offered Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu a sitting place. Together, the two brothers began eating, and while watching Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu take prasada, Nityananda Prabhu became exceedingly happy and exhibited various manifestations of ecstatic love. Lord Nityananda then ordered, All of you chant the holy name of the Lord, Hari, as you eat.

Devotees feel of how Krishna and Balarama used to enjoy eating lunch while sitting on the banks of the River Yamuna
Thus, all directions immediately became filled with the resounding vibration of Hari, Hari;. At that time, the devotees were reminded of how Krishna and Balarama used to enjoy eating lunch while sitting on the banks of the River Yamuna, along with Their companions. Indeed, all of the confidential devotees, who were cowherd boys, headed by Ramadasa, were fully absorbed in ecstatic love, and thus considered the banks of the Ganga to be the banks of the Yamuna.

Great festival and selling of chira, dahi, and bananas
Shopkeepers from all the neighboring villages came to sell chira, dahi, sweets, and bananas, having heard about the great festival. Raghunatha dasa purchased everything, and not only gave the merchants the price of their goods, but later on fed them prasada that had been made from the very same ingredients. Thus, every person who came to see the humorous things that were going on was given chira, dahi, and bananas.

Garlanding Nityananda Prabhu and smearing sandalwood paste all over His body
When Nityananda Prabhu finished eating, He washed His hands and mouth. Then, He gave Raghunatha dasa whatever was left in four of the large clay pots. Whatever was remaining in the other three pots was distributed to all the devotees by a brahmana, so that each person got a morsel. A brahmana garlanded Nityananda Prabhu and smeared sandalwood paste all over His body, and a servant came and offered the Lord betel nuts, which He smilingly accepted. Then, with His own hand, Nityananda Prabhu distributed to the devotees whatever flower garlands, sandalwood paste and betel nuts remained.

At Raghab Home in the evening :r Sankirtana, inundated wit ecstatic love
After receiving the prasada from Nityananda Prabhu, Raghunatha dasa very happily ate some, and distributed the rest to his associates. Nityananda Prabhu then rested for awhile, and in the evening, He went to Raghava Pandita’s temple, where He began performing sankirtana.
First of all, Nityananda Prabhu induced all the devotees to dance, and then He Himself joined in, and by doing so He inundated the entire world with ecstatic love. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was observing His dancing, and Nityananda Prabhu could see this, although others could not. The sweetness of Nityananda Prabhu’s dancing, like that of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s cannot be compared to anything within these three worlds.

Prasada for Lords. Every day, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ate at Raghava Pandita’s house.
After dancing for some time, Nityananda Prabhu rested, and so Raghava Pandita came and requested Him to take his meal. When Nityananda Prabhu sat down with all His associates, He made a place on His right side for Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to sit. Then, when Raghava Pandita saw how Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu actually came and sat down at the place that had been provided for Him, he felt great happiness.
Raghava Pandita first of all brought prasada for the two Lords, and then he distributed prasada to all the devotees. There was cooked rice that surpassed the taste of nectar, and innumerable varieties of vegetables, sweets, and cakes. Indeed, whatever was prepared and offered to the Deity by Raghava Pandita was just like the essence of nectar, and Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came again and again just to eat such prasada. When Raghava Pandita offered food to the Deity, he always made a separate plate for Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Every day, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ate at Raghava Pandita’s house, and sometimes the Lord gave him the opportunity to see Him.

Supreme mother, Shrimati Radharani, personally cook at Raghava Pandita’s house
Raghava Pandita distributed prasada to the two Lords with great attention, and They ate everything without leaving any remnants. Raghava Pandita brought so many preparations for Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu that no one could understand exactly what they were. Indeed, it is a fact that the supreme mother, Shrimati Radharani, personally cooked at Raghava Pandita’s house. Shrimati Radharani had received a benediction from Durvasa Muni that whatever she cooked would become sweeter than nectar. This was the special feature of Her cooking- it was very aromatic and pleasing to look at, and the taste was sweeter than nectar. Raghava Pandita told them, He will eat later Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu ate with great satisfaction, and all the devotees filled themselves up to the brim. After eating, the two Lords washed Their hands and mouths, and then Raghava Pandita decorated Them with flower garlands and sandalwood paste. Raghava Pandita also offered Them betel nuts, and after worshiping Their lotus feet, he distributed to the devotees all the remaining garlands, sandalwood paste and betel nuts.
All the devotees then requested Raghunatha dasa to sit down and have prasada, but Being very merciful to Raghunatha dasa, Raghava Pandita gave him the plates containing the remnants of the two Lords; food, and said, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has eaten this. If you eat His remnants, you will be released from the bondage to your family.

Raghunatha dasa seeking shelter of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu under the tree, the fulfillment of desire
The next morning, after bathing, Nityananda Prabhu went and sat down, along with His associates, beneath the same tree as the day before. Raghunatha dasa went there and worshiped His lotus feet. Then, through Raghava Pandita, Raghunatha dasa submitted the following petition unto the Lord: Although I am the lowest of men, and the most fallen, sinful, and condemned, I desire to attain shelter at the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Like a dwarf trying to catch the moon, I tried to leave home many times, but each time I attempted to give up my family relationship, my parents kept me bound up. My dear Lord, no one can attain the shelter of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu without Your mercy. On the other hand, if You are merciful, then even the lowest of men can obtain that shelter. Although I am unfit and greatly afraid to submit this plea, I nevertheless request You, O Lord, to be especially merciful unto me by granting me shelter at the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Placing Your lotus feet upon my head, give me the benediction that I may achieve the fulfillment of my desire without difficulty

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu acceptance of Raghunath Das and blessing
After hearing this, Lord Nityananda smiled and said to the devotees, Raghunatha dasa’s Lord Nityananda then called for Raghunatha dasa to come near. After placing His lotus feet upon Raghunatha dasa’s head, Nityananda Prabhu said, Because you arranged a feast by the side of the Ganga, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came just to show you mercy. By His causeless mercy, He ate the chira and dahi, and after watching the devotees dance, He once again took prasada Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came here personally just to deliver you, and so now you can rest assured that all the impediments meant for your bondage have been destroyed. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu will accept you and place you under the care of His secretary, Svarupa Damodara. Return home, now, and rest assured that you will become one of the Lord’s most confidential servants. Very soon, without impediment, you will attain the shelter of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Nityananda Prabhu had all of the devotees bless Raghunatha dasa, and in return, Raghunatha dasa offered his obeisances unto their lotus feet. After taking leave of Lord Nityananda and the devotees, Raghunatha dasa privately consulted with Raghava Pandita. Raghunatha dasa then secretly delivered one hundred gold coins and about seven tolas of gold into the hand of Nityananda Prabhu’s treasurer, telling him, Please do not speak about this to Nityananda Prabhu now. When He returns home, kindly inform Him of this presentation. Thereafter, Raghava Pandita took Raghunatha dasa to his home, and after inducing him to see the Deity, he offered him a garland and sandalwood paste. Raghava Pandita also gave Raghunatha dasa a large quantity of prasada to eat on his way home.

Raghunatha dasa donations, feeling greatly obliged to Nityananda Prabhu because of having received merciful benediction.
Raghunatha dasa then said, I want to give some money for worshiping the lotus feet of all the great devotees, servants and sub servants of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. Therefore, as you think fit, please give twenty, fifteen, twelve, ten or five coins to each person.
With great humility, Raghunatha dasa placed one hundred gold coins, and about two tolas of gold, before Raghava Pandita. Raghava Pandita then made up a list showing how much money would be given to each and every devotee. Finally, after taking the dust from the lotus feet of Raghava Pandita, Raghunatha dasa returned home, feeling greatly obliged to Nityananda Prabhu because of having received His merciful benediction.

Source : The Panihati Cida Dahi Festival of Lord Shri Nityananda and Shrila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami — By Swami Gaurangapada