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Gurdwara Handi Sahib, Mai Ji's Khichri (Khichdi) and Prince Gobind Rai


Khichri (Khichdi)

Khichri (Khichdi)

Photo © [S Khalsa]

Mai Ji's Offering:

During the reign of Guru Teg Bahadur, an elderly woman, without many worldly possessions, lived in the village of Danapur about 12, or so, miles from Patna in Bihur. The name of the woman has been obscured by the passing centuries, some know her as Mai Jamuna, or Yamuna Devi, others as Mai Jasni or Mai Pardhani, let us call her Mai Ji.

A rather self important man, whose name is long forgotten, acted as the village masand, a priest with the authority to collect donations from the Sikh people on behalf of the guru, approached the old woman. Mai Ji had no money to offer, but she wanted to give something, so she had scraped together a handful of uncooked rice and daal (lentils) from her meager stores which she offered to the guru's communal langar kitchen for khichri, (khichdi) a kind of meal mixture made all in one pot. The masand, a greedy man who often appropriated offerings of food for his own use with the excuse that being the guru's emissary entitled him to share of the goods collected, turned up his nose, and looked down on Mai Ji's humble contribution. He refused her gift, thinking it too little to feed anyone, and unworthy of his plate, or palate.

Devotion, Desire and Determination:

Mai Ji had a very strong sense of devotion and determination. Her desire to serve the guru and his family welled up with in her until she felt that he must be aware of her longing. She felt certain that one day her opportunity to fulfill her dream would come and so began to plan, and prepare, so one day she might present the guru a kettle of khichri. She set aside the handful of uncooked rice and daal the masand had refused, and whenever she could she add to the collection. Mai Ji sacrificed so that she could a few grains of rice, lentils, or beans, a small onion and a bit of dried vegetable, chili, salt, and spice, and with great satisfaction her khichri collection slowly grew.

The Kettle of Khichri and Guru Gobind Rai:

In the year 1671, five year old Prince Gobind Rai, his father Guru Teg Bhadar and mother Mata Gujri, and her brother, his uncle, Kirpal Chand traveled from Patna through Danapur on their way to Anandpur. Just as soon as she heard, that the guru and his family would be passing by, Mai ji, carefully inspected each grain of her khichri collection which had grown into quite a large sackful. She lovingly built a fire, filled her handi, a kind of clay kettle, with water and set it to boil. She made sure to sort through and pick out any dibris and wash away any dust which may have collected. All the while, she hummed happily to herself dwelling on her desire to serve and her devotion to the divine. She added the rice and dal to the boiling water, chopped a few fresh vegetables she had on hand, and added them to the khichri with a bit of onion, chili, salt, and spice. As the khichri cooked a lovely enticing aroma wafted from her handi kettle through the neighborhood and reached the noses of the guru and his family. The little prince Gobind Rai ran up to her and pleaded, "My Dear grandmother, please give a bowl of your delectable khichri, it smells so deliciously divine that I have become quite hungry".

Together Forever:

Mai Ji delightedly served the young prince Gobind Rai a bowl of her khichri. proceeded Her heart swelled with happiness as she proceeded to affectionately serve each member of the guru's family turn by turn, as well as all those who traveled in the guru's entourage. When all had finished dining and rose at last to depart, Mai Ji wistfully remarked that she wished that they could remain with her always and allow her to serve them forever. Touched at her devotion, young prince Gobind Rai replied fondly, "Dearest grandmother, continue to cook your tasty khichri in your handi clay kettle. Serve and feed all passers by who are in need, and I shall remain forever with you in spirit, for you shall behold me in your heart and feel that I am with you, as you look upon those who partake of your khichri and remember our sweet time together."

Gurdwara Sri Handi Sahib:

Mai Ji continued to prepare khichri in her humble handi clay kettle and to serve sangat and feed the hungry for the remainder of her life. She served as an inspiration to many who settled in the area, who eventually built a shrine originally called Handiwale Sangat to commemorate her devotion. The modern day gurdwara, known as Sri Handi Sahib, is a three story white marble structure with a courtyard and Nishan Sahib flag post. The second story is surrounded by a covered veranda with arched openings and balustrade. A cluster of domed pavilions sit atop the gurdwara roof where the original handi clay kettle is kept as a relic along with bronzed impressions of the five year old footprints of prince of Gobind Rai, who would one day become Tenth Guru Gobind Singh.

Community Kitchen Khichri Recipe

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