Dhanu Sankranti marks the transit of the Sun to Sagittarius or Dhanu Rashi. This will continue for a month (from today to the day before Makar Sankranti). The day of this eclipse is called Dhanu Sankranti.
From this day onwards, Goddes Mahalakshmi leaves for her parent’s home for a month. Maa Laxmi visits her parents’ house for a month from this day. For this reason, food cooked by Lord Jagannath’s mother (Yoshada) is offered early in the morning. This prasad is known as Pahili Bhog which along with Ballabh Bhog is offered to the Lord during this month.
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Every day, Dwar Phita, Aalati and Abakash niti are performed. Then the deities are dressed as per the days. After consecration of the inner and outer temple, cakes prepared from black gram and wheat and cooked in ghee are offered to the deities as 'Pahili Bhog'. Then the deities are worshipped through certain rituals known as 'Pancha Upachar Bidhi'.
In this month, after the 'Mangal Aalati' of the Lords, Pahili Bhog is offered to the Trinity. Apart from this, 'dhanu muan' is enjoyed throughout this month.
The Dhanu Jatra is one of the most special of the jatras celebrated in Odisha. Especially in Bargarh, from this day onwards, a 11-day world-famous Bargarh Dhanu Jatra is celebrated. This jatra has been recognised as the world's largest open theatre stage drama.
During this Dhanu Jatra, Bargarh turns into King Kansa’s kingdom and he rules Bragarh during this period. For this occasion, the Bargarh town becomes the city of Mathura, the river Jeera becomes the river Yamuna and Amapali situated on the other side of Jeera river becomes Gopapura.
For eleven days, the whole of Bargarh town is transformed into a very big stage; and the story of Kansa, his death and the noble deeds of Sri Krishna are enacted at various places in the district.
Bargarh Dhanu Yatra is closely associated with an art form called ‘Sanchar’. It is a 'Trimukhi' form of art that is performed with song, music and dance with mridangam being the main percussion instrument.
During this period, Hindustani music, Dadra, Rupak, Sadra Jhapatal, Jhumpa, and Carnatic music's Dhruval, Athtal, etc are used. Dalkhai, Rasarkeli, Bhagavata, Ramayana are also sung.
The sight of various characters on elephants and horses roaming around on the streets of the town, including Kansa's palace, Rangmahal, enthralls the audience. The extravagant decorations, the music, and the gaiety, make the jatra even more exciting.