Bhubaneswar: Like every year, the traditional Odia New Year, known as Maha Vishuba Sankranti or Pana Sankranti, is being celebrated with religious fervor across Odisha today.
Braving the scorching heat, people flocked to temples in the morning to seek blessings of God on the first day of the Odia New Year. Long queues of devotees were seen at temples at various places across the state.
The day is also celebrated as the birthday of Lord Hanuman, which is being observed by several organisations across the state by holding religious ceremonies with the chanting of Hanuman Chalisha.
Maha Vishuba Sankranti also marks a change of position in the Sun’s path and is, therefore, observed in mid-April every year.
Among major highlights of the festival is the release of the new Odia religious almanac for the Hindu year. The almanac or paanji is collected by Odias to organize auspicious events in the family or follow religious festivals on the right dates.
Revellers also savoured the traditional flavoured beverage “pana” – prepared from a blend of fruits, horse gram (Chhatua) water, cardamom, milk, pulp of bela (stone apple), was distributed for free outside various temples and at many kiosks.
Amba Pana that includes mango pulp, is offered to Lord Jagannath to convey New Year wishes.
On this day, there is a ritual where Basundhara theki (a small mud pot) is used which is tied just above the tulsi plant and pana or water is kept in it which falls on the plant through a small hole on the bottom of the pot. The Pana pouring from the pot through the hole on the Basil symbolizes good rainfall for the upcoming monsoon.
Another important feature of the day was the end of Danda Nata, the famous and popular folk dance of Ganjam.
The devotees, who participated in the dance to appease Lord Shiva and Shakti, ended their ritual. The Danduas (performers) walk on fire and thorns while celebrating the day as Meru Sankranti.
Many restaurants in the capital city were seen holding food festivals for the occasion with top hotels offering traditional Odia cuisine.