Orchha, in the backyard district of Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh, is a quaint little town that is well known for its religious importance and the history attached to the place. The majestic fort here was built by King Rudra Pratap Singh in the early 16th century, but the place still preserves many traditions that go back to a long time ago, giving it a rich legacy of the past that has survived through the ages.
When one travels to Orchha, she/he at every sunrise and sunset does get to witness gun salutes conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Police for the presiding deities of the place at its main temple. This is a tradition which hardly anyone can recall about when it was started. Besides the blazing salutes, a pan ka bida or traditional beetle leaf mouth-freshener is also offered to the deity at the Ram Raja Temple.
The pan ka bida, beetle leaf offering made every day at the main temple has an interesting story about the tradition.
Orchha is a part of Madhya Pradesh’s famous Bundlekhand region and is known for its gigantic fort. An architectural wonder, the foundation is said to have been laid by King Madhuraksha and Queen Ganeshkunwar.
As the legend goes, Rani Ganeshkunwar was a disciple of Lord Rama. To see her idol with her own eyes, she is said to have traveled all the way to Ayodhya. Renouncing all her material comfort, she started to live in a small hut, besides Lakshmana palace, on the banks of Sarayu river at Ayodhya. Being a staunch devotee of Lord Rama, it was in here lifetime that sage Tulsidas, the writer of the epic Ramayana, came to visit Ayodhya.
Despite her strong devotion for several months when Lord Rama did not visit her, the devote Rani came to be filled with agony and derangement. One day, with the intention of committing suicide in the pious waters of Sarayu, she dived in. But her life was not to end here. It was in the dark depths of the river waters that she was paid a divine visit by Lord Rama
Pleased with her selfless love and respect, Lord Rama agreed to accompany the queen back to Orchha.
When Rani Ganeshkunwar on foot returned from Ayodhya, carrying a child avatar (incarnation) of Lord Rama, they were given a grand welcome by the royal family of Orchha On arrival they were served paan bida, signifying a traditional Indian welcome that continues to be held even today and every single day at Orchha.