Sankrati comes 12 times in a year and marks the beginning of a new month in Hindu calendar. It is celebrated when sun makes a transition from one zodiac to another and on Mithuna Sankranti sun transits from Vrishabha Rashi (Taurus) to Mithuna Rashi (Gemini). The day is celebrated in various parts of India and is known as Mithunam onth in Kerala, Aani in Tamil Nadu, Asharh in West Bengal. But it is celebrated with utmost religious fervor in Odisha where it is known as Raja Parba. Few districts in Odisha that organize special celebration for this day are Cuttack, Puri and Balasore.
Mithuna Sankranti is a monsoon festival as it marks the onset of rains. It moistens the soil and makes it ready for productivity. It inaugurates and welcomes agricultural year.
In 2015, Mithuna Sankranti is commemorated on (15th June 2015)
The auspicious time for the prayers is as follows:
5:27 - 07:11
08:54 - 10:38
14:05 - 15:49
15:49 - 17:32
17:32 - 19:16
Celebrations in Odisha
This festival is celebrated in Odisha for four days and each day has its own importance. The first day is called Pahli Raja, the second is Mithuna Sankranti, the third is Bhu Daaha and the fourth one is named as Vasumati Snan. It is believed that just like women menstruate, signifying the sign of fertility, mother earth (also known as Bhumidevi, The Earth Goddess) also go through the same process in the first three days of the festival. The fourth day, mother earth becomes ready for a sacred and ceremonial bath in which either an idol of the Goddess or a grinding stone (symbol of earth) is applied turmeric paste and offered flowers and vermillion. Seasonal fruits are also offered to the deity.
Rituals and Customs
Just as menstruating girls are given rest, similarly earth is not toiled on these days. It is given rest. Unmarried ladies do not do any household chores. They are not allowed to sew, cook, clean or any other work. Before the starting of the four-day celebrations, they clean their houses, kitchen and grinding stones. Women get up before dawn on the first day and wash their hair and apply turmeric paste and oil to their bodies and then take a customary bath in a river or pond. They are not allowed to take bath for the next two days. They then dress up in their best outfits and ornaments and relax. Also walking bare-foot on earth is prohibited as it is believed it will scratch its surface.
Girls spend their time with friends and relatives and play indoor games like cards and ludo. They also tie set of swings with Banyan tree and sway on them. It is believed that girls who participate in this event get good husbands. These swing sets are of various kinds and are named as Ram Doli, Dandi Doli, Pata Doli and Chakri Doli. Special songs are written for this occasion which are sung by girls sitting on the swings. People dance around with enthusiasm and everyone enjoys the days of celebration.
Not only women indulge themselves in gaming activities but men also play sports and their favorite being “Kabadi” (A game in which a person hold his breath and enters the opponent's court. He continuously says Kabbadi and touches a player and then run back to his own side).
One can do charity work and donate clothes, food and money to the needy. Remembering the dead ancestors and paying homage to them is also a part of the ritual.
A customary dish named ‘Poda Pitha’ is also prepared from rice-powder, molasses, coconut, camphor and clarified butter. It is also distributed among friends and family members and adds to the festivity. Apart from the rice-powder used in this dish, consumption of rice is prohibited.