Bela Pana – Delicious Odia Drink to beat Summer Heat
Come April, despite the scorching heat, the temple city comes alive with the colors of festivities of Ashokastami festival. This is the time famous chariot festival of Lord Lingaraja takes place. The month of April also presents the auspicious occasion for celebration-‘Pana Sankranti’. People of Odisha have forever relished the flavor of traditional drink of Odisha-‘Pana’ and especially, the occasion of; Sankranti’ makes it a custom to offer the deities this sweet drink. Drinking of Pana has traditionally remained a cultural activity in every household of the state.
Pic 1 Credit: Wikipedia
“When you choose a healthy drink with excellent taste, ‘Bela Pana’ would score 9 out of 10. The ingredients mixed in this drink make the drink not only tasty but it is something even the doctors would not refuse to recommend. Bela (Aegle marmelos), held sacred in every scripture, has many medicinal capacities. First of all, the sweet drink made from it has stayed the best anti-dote for sun-stroke. When you drink the cool sweet-flavored, the ingredients in it are very effective as stress busters”- says Sushant Jena- a doctor in Homeopathy, who serves the drink free of cost to the devotees on the occasion of Sankranti. The occasion arrives on the 14/15th of the month of April every year.
While making this traditional sherbet, people mix various ingredients in it like pieces of grated coconut, mashed ripe banana, mashed rasagola, sugar, curd, black pepper and green cardamom powder, and water. All these ingredients are mixed with the pulp of bela or wood apple and finally the concoction gets stored in the refrigerator to serve it cool to the guests.
“This drink is traditionally a good drink as it is free from the wrong effects from chemicals that you drink in the soft-drinks. The natural ingredients in it soothe the body and relieve stress without any side effects. Although, we have Lassi as a traditional drink but it is excessively sugary that could cause risk to heart besides causing obesity. Like the leaves of bela tree, the fruits could contain the wrong effects of sugar and ingredients like cardamom powder and black pepper powder are excellent additives for health. Those could help the metabolism of the body-explains Pratibha Pradhan- a house-wife in the temple city. She makes it a point to prepare the traditional drink and serve to every member of her household in the sweltering heat of summer.
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