Maha Vishuba Sankranti in Ceuta in 2024

Maha Vishuba Sankranti in Ceuta in 2024
Sunrise at Chilika Lake, Odisha. Image by Anurag Photography
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Odisha. Marks the beginning of the New Year in the traditional Odia calendar

When is Maha Vishuba Sankranti?

Maha Vishuba Sankranti is a regional public holiday in the Indian state of Odisha and is observed on the first day of the Odia month of Mesha, which means it usually falls on April 14th.

Traditions of Maha Vishuba Sankranti

Also known as Mahabishuba Sankranti, Maha Vishuba Sankranti is the traditional solar new year of Odisha. 

Maha Vishuba Sankranti historically marked the changing of the year by the sun moving from Pieces to Aries. This is an ancient festival and when it was first observed, the movement of the sun into Aries would have been closer to the Vernal Equinox (March 21st) which marks the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere. The dates of these events differ today due to the wobble of the earth on its axis over a 25,000 cycle - known as procession.

The same astronomical event is celebrated by different names across many parts of India and indeed further east in Thailand, Myanmar and Lao.

Though this date is celebrated widely, it is useful to know that this isn't THE Hindu New Year, it is A Hindu New Year. Ugadi and Gudi Padwa which take place a few weeks before are also traditional new years for other Hindu communities.

In the Odia tradition, this day is believed to be the birthday of the Hindu deity Hanuman, made famous by his loving devotion to Vishnu avatar Rama in the epic Ramayana. Hanuman's temples, along with those of Shiva and Surya (sun god, not surprisingly) are especially revered on this new year.

To mark the new year, People take baths in rivers or major pilgrimage centres before enjoying fairs, watching street dance and acrobatic performances. Fire-walk is a dramatic performance that takes place today, where volunteers sprint over a bed of burning coal while being cheered with music and songs.

A sweet mango-milk-yoghurt-coconut drink called Pana is a popular treat on this day, so much so, that the festival is sometimes called Pana Sankrantri.

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