Offbeat

Odisha celebrates Dhanu Sankranti

Dhanu Sankranti is observed on the day when the Sun enters in the Sagittarius or Dhanur Rashi and the Dhanur Mas (month of the Bow), the ninth month of the Hindu calendar starts with it. It is vibrantly observed in Bargarh, Odisha, celebrating till the month of January. During this period, plays depicting Lord Krishna's life is enacted, especially the Dhanu Jatra.

Rituals of Dhanu Sankranti:

On this day, Lord Jagannath is worshipped in many parts of State and offered Dhanu Muan (triangle shaped sweetened rice flakes). It is also auspicious to take holy baths in the sacred rivers and to offer veneration to the ancestors. Devotees also worship the Sun god or Surya Devta on this auspicious day to gain his graces and maintain a prosperous and happy life.


Pahili Bhoga:

Pahili Bhog was offered to Lord Jagannath and His siblings on Dhanu Sankranti early morning. This offering would continue for a month till Makar Sankranti.

As per the religious traditions of the temple, during this month Mahalakshmi, the consort of Lord Jagannath visits her father's house and the Bhog is prepared by the mother of the deities. She offers delicious cakes made of cheese, grams and other sweetmeats every day starting from the Dhanu Sankranti to the Makar 
Sankranti. 

During the month-long festivity, mahaprasad, the cooked offerings, becomes more attractive and sought after. The menu list becomes large with addition of various mouth-watering dishes. Cakes made of blackgram and curd based preparations are also added t the menu during this  period. Apples, oranges, grapes are added to the curd and in another dish carrots are mixed.

Very early morning after observance of Mangal Arati, the deities were offered the Pahili Bhog. This would be repeated every day for one month and conclude on Makar, the day Mahalakshmi returns from her vacation.

Dhanu Jatra: 

An open air theatrical performance depicting mythical story of Lord Krishna and his evil uncle (maternal) Kansa in Bargarh, Odisha. It is considered as the largest open air theater. Such enactments can be seen all over Western Odisha but they cannot hold the candle to the original at Bargarh. The play starts with the dethroning of King Ugrasena by the angry brother Kansa, over the marriage of his sister Debaki with Basudeba, and ends with the death of the evil king Kansa and restoring of peace in the kingdom by Ugrasena once again taking the throne. You could say it is about the life and death of evil king Kansa. The highlight of the play is the episode when Lord Krishna and his brother Lord Balaram went to Mathura to witness the Dhanu (bow) ceremony organized by King Kansa. There are no written scripts used for the enactments. During this festival Kansa, the one playing Kansa to be correct, can punish anybody with penalty for their mistakes, even Biju Patnaik, former Chief Minister of Odisha was fined along with his ministers. This shows the zeal with which the festival is observed in the state.

This festival continues for 15 days and Bargarh turns into Mathura for the time being, river Jura into river Yamuna and the village Ambapali in the opposite bank of the river is considered as Gokul.

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