Banalaxmi, a group of women living in a communetype surrounding, has expertise in food processing and preparing jams, jelly and pickles. In the olden days, people in the rural areas used to prepare ‘pitha’ from rice. As the joint family system is breaking down, this art is also being lost. Through the inspiration of Sanhati Bipani, PIDT’s collective marketing outlet, Banalaxmi decided to prepare and promote pitha like other eatables such as rasogolla, idli and dosa that are sold ready-tomake in markets to middle class families.

Sanhati took the responsibility of marketing pitha, preparing leaflets and distributing them through stall papers and customer contact. Pitha was then taken to the Mela (fair) ground in PIDT’s jeep and initially sold by hawking, as we had no stall at the Mela. In this manner, pitha worth Rs. 7,000 was sold. The second year, a stall was booked at the Mela ground and sales more than doubled to Rs. 15,000. By the third year, in 2005, sales has risen to Rs. 80,000. Demand was such that many in the queue could not get pitha as the stocks were exhausted.

Now, Banalaxmi sells pitha in other melas throughout the winter season. They supplied two quintal pitha in Kolkata for a marriage ceremony. Many more women have begun producing pitha and selling at their own mela stalls and in shops. Pitha is becoming a desirable sweet item for various occasions. It is certain to survive the next generation. Back