Pana Sankranti | Maha Visubha Sankranti | Odia New Year | Celebration for commencement Of Summer

“What our ancestors did always had a meaning. That is why all the festive recipes match with the seasons they are prepared in. Pana is prepared in hot summers to cool down our body.” The deep legacy of Odia tradition and culture has been inherited from ancestors. The iota of information is there all over the internet but it's all muddled, scavenged, and suppressed. It is a rich state etched with temples and glorious tales but yet so obscure.

From the day of Maha Visubha Sankranti, the new year begins. The day is also known as Mesha (Aries) Sankranti or Meru (Sun) Sankranti. At the Jagannath temple in Puri, the three deities – Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Jagannath are offered a slushy sweet and tangy raw Mango drink or the Amba (Mango) Pana. The New Hindu calendar ‘Jagannath Panji’, also known as the ‘Khadiratna Panji’ is also brought into use and the ritualistic proceedings of the temple are planned accordingly. Pana is traditionally made by mixing a variety of ingredients like yogurt, fruits (apple, banana, grapes, orange, pomegranate, mango, and most importantly stone apple that is locally called Bela), sugar, jaggery, dry fruits (cashews, raisins, almond), full-fat milk, grated coconut, crumbled khoya, horse gram flour (chhatua), crushed black pepper, cherries for garnishing. Nowadays, people also add ice cubes for chilling the drink or ice cream for added flavors. When all of these ingredients are mixed, a thick yummy, nutritious beverage is prepared. According to the famous folklores in our state, drinking Pana is symbolic and represents the importance of water in sustaining life on earth. By large amounts of Pana for people traveling from one place to another and establish Jala Chatra- Water Points across towns and villages to serve the society during the scorching heat of summers. Jal Dana- Water offering is considered a very auspicious deed, and you can see many social groups voluntarily coming forward to do it.

Unlike other forms of artificial drinks, Pana is 100% naturally made and helps cure certain diseases. Going by the ancient ways of keeping the body cool, it also acts as a good oral rehydration solution.

Cultural anecdotes behind Pana Sankranti
Odia Sanskruti(culture) is heavily derived from the ancient Puranas and holy scripture Geeta. My mother derived meaning from the Bhagwata Geeta at every major turning point in my life. In the Bhaviswa Purana, there is a paragraph about Mesha Sankranti which is referred to as the Jala Sankranti. Bhisma Pitmah lay in the Kurukshetra (battlefield) on a bed of arrows as he was waiting for the time of Uttarayana yatra to leave the earth. He was craving water so Arjuna the greatest archer shot the deep water table beneath the soil with his arrow and then Holy Ganga (water) gushed out from the ground as a fountain and quenched the thirst of Bhisma. He was utterly pleased so he blessed the Pandavas and mentioned that going forward anyone who offered water to the thirsty on this day would be freed of his sins. Hence people offer Pana or cold water to the parched souls. I remember My father erecting bamboo stilts on either side of the Tulasi Chaura then taking a small earthen pot and making a small hole at the bottom and inserting a straw (kutta) into the hole. Then hang it on the stilts over the Tulsi plant. This pot is traditionally called the Basundhra theki. An important ritual observed during Pana Sankranti is. The next morning even before we got up my mother would offer water or pana into the pot which would trickle down drop-by-drop over the Tulsi. This purpose of filling the pot is done every morning for the entire month to keep the soil moist and wet. Odia fables consider Tulsi as the personified form of Maa Brundabati who was blessed by Lord Shiva to be reborn as sacred Tulsi.

“The onset of the Odia solar new year is marked by various strong beliefs and fables on the astronomical calendar and hence coined as Maha Vishubha Sankranti, Mesha Sankranti, Meru Sankranti, Theki Basa Sankranti, Jala Sankranti and finally Pana Sankranti. Reverence to our Holy scriptures remains the backbone of Odia Sanskruti till date.“

Mesha Sankranti also marks the onset of the hot grishma ritu or summer season. Women offer Pana to the Tulasi and as Prasad to family and friends to quench the thirst in the intense heat of Odisha. A gesture observed from the yesteryears and that is the reason it is also called Pana Sankranti.

Assortment of Pana’s in Odisha Summer:
Bela Pana:This one is the perfect summer cooler. The traditional recipe of Pana starts with extracting the wood apple pulp. This is the intricate bit because it's made of fibrous threads and gelatinous seeds. carefully extract the pulp by squeezing the pulp out of the fibrous fruit mass using her fist. Here is a little trivia for those who have not seen a wood apple, I would like to share about wood apple. They are tropical fruits and they grow on trees that have thorns growing on the branches. Dad used to pluck Bela by using a long bamboo pole with a curved hook at the end to grip the fruit and make it fall on the ground. So climbing these trees was not an option because of the thorns.

Nabata Chhena Pana:This one is my favorite Just add chhena /cottage cheese, jaggery (Nabata), desiccated coconut, black pepper powder, crushed Ginger, and Cardamom powder in Milk, Mash it properly, and serve chilled. Now enjoy this sumptuous drink. This is for those who wish to experiment further with Pana and have a relatively sweeter tooth.

Aamba Pana:This Panna will not only quench your thirst but also keep you hydrated and save you from the scorching heat of summer. Raw mangoes and a few pantry staples are all you need to make this delicious drink. Raw Mango, Jaggery, roasted cumin seed, black salt Black peppercorns. Just prepare the undiluted raw mango Panna concentrate by peeling & boiling the raw mango. Add the above mentioned in the Pulp and required water and enjoy.

Khai Pana:Using Parched rice (Khai ), soak the khai by adding milk, curd, and jaggery. Mash it properly garnish with a chhena more enriching drink. People usually add mashed bananas to Khai before mixing it with milk and curd. Garnish with black pepper powder.

Chhatua Pana:The other important recipe is Chatua, the traditional chatua is made of Sattu (Roasted gram flour) diluted with water into a thick paste mixed with dry fruits like cashews, kakudi(cucumber), nadia kora (shredded coconut), raw mango pieces and sweetened with sugar or guda (jaggery). The interesting bit about Sattu is it can be a mixture of roasted gram flour, barley, wheat germ, puffed rice flour, and dry fruits. But it tastes best when it is in its purest form which no additions.

Palua Pana or Jahara Palua: This is a healthy drink with palua (arrowroot), which is known for its cooling properties. The arrowroot starch or Arrowroot chunks (means raw palua ) are soaked in water. Boiling the Raw arrowroot strained and kept aside. After the other ingredients are mixed, Palua is mixed with cardamom, fennel seed, grated coconut sugar/jaggery/mishri (Sugar candy )curd, and black pepper which finally results in a tasty, healthy drink.

REFERENCES:Various Sources

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