Pana Sankranti: Not history, but geography also important

While slurping the thick Pana (a drink made from dairy, sweets and seasonal produce) on a balmy evening or passing by a holy basil plant in the neighbourhood being watered by a perforated earthen pot hanging over it, one might get a fleeting thought that the Pana Sankranti couldn’t have come at a better time. It conspicuously feels more than being a holy Sankranti.

It is not just a day when the withered pages of a the old Panji (Odia almanac) crumbling with every stroke of our fingers makes way to the exuberant flaps of the newly bought almanac to mark the beginning of a new year.

 

The pana sankranti is also known as the Maha Visuba Sankranti – the name whose etymology can be traced to the Visuva Rekha, the Equator. And from here the geography behind it becomes ever so apparent.

 

The pana sankranti is also known as the Maha Visuba Sankranti – the name whose etymology can be traced to the Visuva Rekha, the Equator. And from here the geography behind it becomes ever so apparent.

“It is one of the two days in the year when the equator is right under the Sun. Its perpendicular (90 degrees in geometrical terms) rays on that day mark the beginning of the summer,” says Muralidhar Mishra a priest of a local temple on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.

Also Read: Can Maha Visuba Sankranti be complete without ‘Bela pana’ ?

The observance of Pana Sankranti and the rituals therein are in more ways than one an attempt to beat the wrath of the summer months.

“Hence, water becomes the mitigating factor which is why the day is also called ‘Jala (Water) Visuba Sankranti,” adds Mishra.

Whether it is the Pana, or watering of the holy basil, water is the common denominator behind all rituals and offerings.

With these rituals as we begin our quest to mitigate the wrath of sun, and as the earth rotates and revolves its way around the sun, the perpendicularity of its rays wanes and with it the days shorten and heat abates.

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