Importance of Maha Vishuba Sankranti
The New Year in Odisha is calculated based on solar system of calendar calculation. Sun transits to Mesha Rashi or Aires on this day. Vishuba means Equator and Sun is over the Equator on the day.
As the day marks the beginning of Mesha solar month, it is also known as Meru Sankranti, Mesha Sankranti and Maha Vishuba Sankranti. The day marks the onset of the coming summer season.
The highlight of the day is the preparation of sweet drink called ‘Pana,’ which is made from fruits, milk, curd etc.People use a small pot filled with “pana” or a sweet drink of Mishri and water is hung on a basil (Tulsi) plant. There is a hole at the bottom of this pot which allows the water to fall from the pot, representing rain.
How is Maha Vishuba Sankranti Observed?
People wake up early in the morning and take bath (Sankranti buda) in rives, ponds, lakes or sea. They then worship Lord Surya standing in knee deep water. Gayatri Mantra is chanted.
Yajnas and donations are done by some.
Many make it a point to visit a temple in the vicinity.
Some people keep a fast on the day.
The flour of horse gram chhatua, along with banana and curd, is consumed by the people of Odisha after offering it to the Tulsi plant.
Pithas – sweets – are prepared and shared on the day.
Special Tulsi Puja and Rituals
The tulsi plant in the courtyard of the home is given a canopy using leaves. This small shed is to protect the plant from coming summer.
A small earthen pitcher with a hole in the bottom is hung over the tulsi plant. The earthen pitcher is filled every day till summer ends.
Other Festivities and Rituals
There are no major celebrations on the day. Temples conduct special pujas and rituals.
Tribals observe Meru Yatra on the day. Devotees pierce their body with sharp items and walk on hot coal as part of penance.
Chaiti festival of fisherman community comes to an end.
Danda and Jhamu Yatra observed in Southern Odisha ends on Pana Sankranti day. These festivals begin a fortnight before Sankranti mostly on April 1 or April 2. The main ritual involves performing penance of walking through bed of hot coal.