Here is how the folklore goes. This is the version that my grandmother used to tell us and this is what we narrate each year while doing the puza. The accuracy of the story is not important, the learning from it is.
It is said that there was an extremely poor unmarried lady who lived with her mother in a village in Srinagar. They were so poor that it had become a curse to live each day. At some point they saw a bunch of people preparing this sweet from dough (Roth) and performing a puza. On learning the importance of this ritual, they decided to perform the puza themselves. Unfortunately the extreme poverty meant that this task was almost impossible. They thought hard, and finally decided to adopt desperate measures. They collected horse dung, washed it and eventually got handful of wheat – the basic ingredient for making Roth. After drying and grinding it, they were able to make a couple of small Roths. They performed the puza, and to their surprise the Roth turned into gold.
It is at this time the ruler of the state approached the mother to marry her daughter. The mother agreed as long her daughter was okay. The daughter had only one condition, that she be allowed to perform Pann puza every year on Vinayak Chaturthi, the fourth day of lunar fortnight of Bhadoon. The king agreed and soon they got married. The said king had many wives and they were totally unhappy at the attention the new bride was getting. On one of the Pann occasions, the king at the behest of his other wives, destroyed the Roths that his queen had made. Soon the kingdom was attacked and this king was dethroned and sent to a deep dry well – chah. All his wives leave him except this young lady. She took care of the dethroned king; she would drop a basket of food and some water to him every day in the chah. On realising his mistake, the king requests his wife to perform the Pann puza again.
The next year on Vinayak choram, she performed the puza with great dedication, and soon her prayers are answered. The kingdom is again attacked by another army the and the original king got back his throne. Both the king and his wife lived happily ever after.
The moral of the story is – as with the queen, her mother and the king, who with great dedication overcame their hardships, so should everyone else who performs this puza. May the good times prevail, may we all have the strength and conviction to see us through all hardships.
Pann puza is performed with great dedication and a lot of care is taken to make sure it is done right and pure. Everything is cleaned a number of times and typically it takes several hours to prepare the Roths (very thick puri type roti, made of dough and fried in pure ghee. It is sweet and absolutely fantastic).
Here are more pictures – https://www.facebook.com/media/set/set=a.10153090303366521.1073741835.527116520&type=1&l=1c83bdb929
Here is a more detailed version of the story – http://koausa.org/folktales/2.html