Sankrantis are days in the zodiac when the sun transits from one zodiac to the other. There are a total of 12 sankrantis in the year.
Dhanu Sankranti or Dhanu Sankraman is the auspicious day when the sun moves in to the Sagittarius or the Dhanu rashi.
The Dhanu Sankranti marks the start of the ninth month in the traditional Hindu calendar and also symbolizes the significant Dhanur Maas auspicious for the Vaishnava sect. the Dhanu Sankranti in 2016 is on the 15th of December, Thursday.
The Dhanu Sankranti is celebrated in an unique manner with much pomp and grandeur in Odisha. It is the beginning of Makar Sankranti. The auspicious day is started with a special puja offered to Lord Jagannath and it is also a day when the Sun God is worshipped. Devotees take an early morning ritual bath in sacred rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari etc. Because Pousha is a month of collecting harvest, a festival is organized and a special sweet made of sweetened rice flakes called Dhanu Muan in conical shape is prepared and offered to Lord Jagannath.
Dhanu is a month is the Malayalam calendar as well which is mostly used by Keralites. Women celebrate Thiruvathira with lot of devotion on this month. It is considered to be the birthday of Lord shiva and married and unmarried women keep upavas or fast on this day. They also sing songs and dance in merriment. All this is done by the unmarried women to pray for a husband like Shiva and for the married ones for the welfare of their husbands and family.
Celebration of Dhanu and Dhanu Sankranti in Odisha
Dhanu Yatra is an event intrinsically connected to Lord Krishna. It relates to his journey from to Mathura to see the Dhanu or the Bow ceremony organized by Kansa. This is the event which is recreated in Odisha, specifically at a place called Bargarh. During this festival, Bargarh becomes the town of Mathura and the Jura River running through it becomes Yamuna, and the village Amapalli, situated on the other side of the Jura River becomes Gokul. The mango orchard in between becomes Vrindavan.
Street plays are performed depiting various interesting episodes of Lord Krishna’s life in these days. They recreate episodes starting from Krishna’s birth till the killing of the demons by him. All the members of the village take part in these plays with great enthusiasm and the plays after being staged in specific place s moves along the town. It is an entire stretch of 5 kilometres which becomes the stage for these performing artists.
This festivity continues from the Dhanu sankranti till the next ten to twelve days.
Rituals of Dhanu Sankranti
- On this auspicious day Lord jagannath is worshipped in Odisha
- The Dhanu Yatra festival takes place in Bargarh in odisha from this day onwards
- The day is considered to be auspicious in doing Daan Dhyan or charity
- The devotees involve themselves in sankraman japa and Pitru Tarapana or ablations to the forefathers
- The sun God is worshipped by offering water, flowers, incense and lamps.
- Devotees, especially women fast on this day
Thus Dhanu Sankranti is a great occasion to offer puja to Jagannath and seek his blessings.