Mithuna Sankranti is also known as Asharh or Aani in Sothern India and Mithunam Onth in Kerala. On this day the sun transits from Vrishabha (Taurus) to Mithuna (Gemini). The change of the Sun’s position is considered to be crucial according to the astrological effect. Hence, devotees perform puja on this day. Mithun Sankranti is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm in Odisha where the festival is known as Raja Parba. The festivities lasts for four days where devotees welcome the rains with joy and happiness. Unmarried girls dressed in beautifully attire and ornaments. Married women take a break from household work. Devotees sing the Raja Gita, a popular folk song. Men and women walk barefoot to welcome the rain with dancing and singing.
Mithuna Sankranti marks the occasion of Sun moving into Gemini or Mithuna which is known as Mithuna Sankramanam. It is one of the most auspicious occasions according to Hindu traditions and customs. It marks the onset of the agricultural year all across Odisha. People welcome first rains officially by celebrating this festival. For Mithuna Sankranti, sixteen Ghati(s) after the Sankranti moment are considered auspicious and the time window from Sankranti to sixteen Ghati after Sankranti is taken for all Dan-Punya activities.
During Mithuna Sankranti donating clothes is considered highly auspicious. People pray to God for best harvest after the rain. The festival is meant to have some relaxation time. Hence, the event is the famous festival. It is believed that fasting on Raja Parba or Mithuna Sankranti to please the God Sun ensure prosperity, peace, and happiness in life.
Mithuna Sankranti is celebrated for four days. There is an interesting depiction associated with the festival. The celebration is held in the form of Vasumati Gadhua, which marks the fourth and final day where a prosperous bath is given to Goddess Earth who is considered as a wife of Lord Vishnu. Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri has a silver idol of Bhudevi which is adorned with grandeur.
On this day, Lord Vishnu and Bhudevi (Goddess Earth) are worshipped. On the fourth day, the ritual of Vasumati bath is performed. Womenfolk bath the grinding stones as a symbol of Goddess Earth and give a bath with turmeric paste and vermilion. They also offer the fruits to the Bhudevi Goddess. Men and women walk barefoot on earth to welcome the rain with great enthusiasm, dancing, and singing.
Celebrations and Rituals:
Lord Vishnu and Goddess Earth are worshipped on Mithun Sankranti. Devotees wear traditional clothes, and special puja is performed for mother earth. The stone is decorated with flowers and vermillion. It is believed that the earth gets ready to receive rainfall. Another ritual of Raja Parba is to tie swings on the bark of banyan tree, and girls enjoy themselves swinging on it. It is sacred to pay homage to the ancestor on this day. Poda-pita is a delicacy made in Odisha especially on Mithuna Sankranti, which is made with jaggery, coconut, camphor, molasses, and butter. One should avoid eating rice and grains on this day.