Dhanu Sankranti marks the day when Sun enters in the Sagittarius or Dhanu Rashi. Dhanu Sankranti marks the beginning of the ninth month in Hindu Solar Calendar. This symbolizes the beginning of the auspicious Dhanur mas for the Vaishnava sect.
On this day, Lord Surya or the Sun God is worshiped. Devotees take a dip in the sacred rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Yamuna as it is considered a very auspicious ritual. This festival is celebrated with great gusto in Odisha. Lord Jagannath is worshiped on this day. In Odisha, the month of Pousha is considered the month of plenty. Hence, after collecting the harvest a festival of celebration is organized. A special delicacy made of sweetened rice flakes Dhanu Muan is prepared which is offered to Lord Jagannath.
A street play is held on this day in the Bargarh town of Odisha that depicts the various episodes of Lord Krishna’s life. One of the episodes is based on Krishna’s visit to Mathura to witness the Bow ceremony organized by Kansa. Kansa had invited Krishna and Balaram on the occasion of Dhanu Yatra with the evil intention of killing them. This annual festival showcases scenes right from Lord Krishna s birth to the killing of the demon by him. During this occasion Bargarh is shown as Mathura, river Jira on the border of Bargarh town as Jamuna and a small village Ambapali on the other side of the river as Gopapura. The mango orchard serves as Vrindavan. Various scenes mentioned in the Bhagavad Purana are enacted in different areas of Bargarh town and almost all the people in the town participate in the play with great enthusiasm.
It is celebrated from Pousha Shukla Sasthi to Pousha Purnima and is carried out for ten to eleven days continuously. The entire township stretching over five-six kilometers serves as an open-air theatre. The world famous Dhanu Yatra is also held during this period at Baragarh town of Koshal (Western) region.
To read about this festival in Hindi click here