Just like every year, this year April 14 is celebrated as the traditional Odia New Year. The festival is also known as Maha Vishuba Sankranti or Pana Sankranti. This day is celebrated with religious fervour across Odisha. Facing the sweltering heat, people flocked to temples in the morning to seek blessings of God. Traditionally, Odisha people believe that one should always start their first day of the New Year by visiting the temple. Long queues of devotees were seen at temples at various places across the state.
The day is also observed as the birthday of Lord Hanuman. It is being observed by several organisations across the state by holding religious celebrations with the chanting of Hanuman Chalisa. 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” which is prepared from a blend of fruits, horse gram (Chhatua) water, cardamom, milk, pulp of bela (stone apple). It is distributed for free outside various temples and at many booths. 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. This pana or water 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.