Mesha Sankranti or Mahavishuva Sankranti, more popularly known as Pana Sankranti is the Oriya New Year (Odia Naba Barsha). Also termed as Mesha Sankranti, it marks the beginning of the New Year, based on the Hindu Solar Calendar. Puthandu is also celebrated as New Year in Tamil Nadu on the same day based on Hindu solar calendar. This day marks the end of spring season and onset of summer.
Different groups, religious communities and people from different states follow different forms of Hindu Calendars, and celebrate New Year on the first day of such calendar. For instance, the first bright day on the month of Chaitra, is celebrated as Vikram Samvat Nav Varsh Hindu New Year and also New Year in many other states. There are also new year celebrations based on Lunar Calendar, where the New Year and other auspicious dates are calculated based on waxing and waning phases of moon.
Mahavishuva Sankranti and Astrological Association
Mahavishuva Sankranti is influenced by the movement or transit of Sun, based on the Solar Calendar.
According to Hindu Solar Calendar, Sun stays in every house (based on zodiac houses) for a period of one month (not exactly 30 days, plus or minus one or two days). Transit of Sun to the first zodiac sign Aries marks the New Year. Transit of Sun in all zodiac sign from Aries to Pisces counts completion of one year. Aries sign is termed as Mesha, and therefore, the celebration is also termed as Mesha Sankranti.
Sun, being the centre of the Solar System is worshipped as the Supreme Power that supports life of all living things on Earth!
When is Mesha Sankranti celebrated?
Generally, this day falls on April 14th or April 15th of every year. In the year 2016, Sun moves from the 12th zodiac sign Pisces to the first house Aries, on 14th April.
Based on Vedic astrology, placement of Sun in the natal horoscope marks the sun sign of the individual. In general, the day on which sun transits from one to another house (happens once in a month) is marked as a special day and celebrated accordingly.
Why sun transiting to Aries is special and celebrated as New Year?
Sun transit happens once a month and two transits of Sun are considered very special.
- Mesha Sankranti
- Tula Sankranti (Transit of Sun from Virgo to Libra)
The days on which the sun moves to Aries and Libra, respectively are the only days when Sun sits fully on the equator. It means that these two days have the equal length of day and night.
This is the major reason that Solar Calendar is followed by many and celebrated as New Year.
Solar Calendar or Solar Year is lengthy than the usual tropical year, which begins on January 1 and ends on December 31. To the contrary, Lunar Calendar has less number of days when compared with tropical calendar.
Rituals of Mahavishuva Sankranti
- Worshipping Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali, the eternal powers of the universe. Worshipping them is considered auspicious.
- Salagramam, a holy stone is also worshipped to get blessed. Salagrama-silas are sacred black stones found in the Gandaki River valley of the Himalayas. It is believed that with blessings of Salagram, devotees get happiness, harmony in the family, good health, and wealth.
- This day is also celebrated as birth anniversary of Lord Hanuman in Orissa, in spite of the fact that full moon day in the month of Chaitra marks birth of Lord Hanuman and is celebrated as Hanuman Jayanti in the rest of India.
- Many temples, especially Puri Jagannath temple, Cuttack Chandi and Samaleshwari temples perform special poojas on Mesha Sankranti. These temples remain crowded from morning to midnight on the day of Oriya new year.
- Most of the families, after performing the Pooja at home visit the nearby temples to get ‘Darshan’ (glimpse) of the gods in the morning itself. It is considered very auspicious.
New Almanac on Oriya New Year
Since the New Year is influenced by transit of Sun, the almanac of Odisha changes accordingly. The day on which Sun moves to Mesha is considered the first day of the year, based on which auspicious dates, festivals and other calculations are made.
New Almanac of Orissa is placed as an important element during the Pooja. Temples in Orissa also perform special Pooja on the occasion of New Year. Even at homes, devotees worship new almanac.
In general, some aspects of celebration vary from one part to another. Especially, in a few coastal towns and in a some villages, the festival is celebrated by following all rituals rigorously.
Danda Nacha is a form of traditional dance of Orissa associated with the culture as a mythological ritual, performed every year during the month of Chaitra.
Danda Nacha is a month long festival observed to seek blessings from Lord Shiva. It starts on the full moon day in the month of Chaitra and ends on the 8th day of the second month Vaishaka. This is performed mainly to get child, to get rid of diseases and to seek happiness in life.
Watering Tulsi Plant
Water is the essence of life. Similarly, Tulsi is an important holy plant grown in most of the homes in India. It is a very sacred plant that provides a lot of positive vibes and healing energy. Watering Tulsi Plant and offering Pooja to the plant is performed by the elderly married woman in the family. On Mesha Sankranti, this ritual becomes all the more important.
- A small pot with a tiny hole is filled with Pana (Recipe given below) or a sweet drink (made from crystallized sugar) and water. The pot is hung on tulsi plant. The water falls down drop by drop through the hole, which signifies rain.
Special Offerings of Mahavishuva Sankranti
Although the rituals vary extensively, there are many who observe this new year festival of Orissa with sanctity! Most of the families offer the following things to the Brahmins, especially those who perform the poojas and rituals at home (who are considered as guru). Donations are made to poor and needy people too.
- Corn Powder
- Pana or sweet water as prepared on this special day of Mesha Sankranti
- Fans made of palm leaves and
- Wooden slippers.
Offering these is believed to help reduce the malefic effects of sun as well blesses the family with health, wealth and happiness.
Special Recipes of Mahavishuva Sankranti
Pana / Sweet Drink
Pana is an important recipe of this new year festival of Orissa. Here is the authentic recipe of Pana.
- Half cup Fresh paneer (cottage cheese)
- Half cup finely chopped apple
- 1/4th cup finely chopped mangoes
- 1/4th cup finely chopped bananas
- Half cup honey or half cup jaggery
- Half cup yogurt
- 2 to 4 cardamom pods
- Paste of one handful of grounded cashew
- Freshly grated coconut (1 handful)
How to make pana:
- Mix all ingredients except coconut and grind in a mixer.
- Add a cup or two of water.
- The consistency should be similar to a thick milkshake.
- Garnish the drink with coconut
Pana for Pana Sankranti is ready!
Chauta is another special recipe of Oriya New Year, eaten as the first thing by all family members on the day of Mahavishuva Sankranti.
- Horsegram powder
All these ingredients are mixed together and offered to Tulsi Plant. Later, it is consumed by all members in the family.
Mahavishuva Sankranti is a local holiday in Orissa.