Pana Sankranti: What Is The Odia Summer Drink Pana, And Why is It Consumed In Odia New Year?
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Pana Sankranti is also known as Maha Bisubha Sankrati, Maha Sankranti, or Mesha Sanfranti. It marks the birthday of Mahaveer Hanuman, and is celebrated as the New Year of the Odia community, and the first day of the Solar calendar. This festival of harvest in Odisha is celebrated by drinking the traditional Odia drink, Pana. According to the famous folklores in the state, drinking Pana is symbolic and represents the importance of water in sustaining life on earth. People celebrate this new beginning by visiting shrines. Many social groups arrange large amounts of Pana for people travelling 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.

Pana is traditionally made by mixing a variety of ingredients like yoghurt, 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 flavours. When all of these ingredients are mixed, a thick yummy, nutritious beverage is prepared.

When prepared in large quantities for distribution, people often opt for simple and easy to make recipes like using only yoghurt and some sweet or savoury flavouring agents. These are made with the intention to keep people safe from sun-stroke.

Odia families enjoy Pana throughout the summer and also relish it during different festivals like Shivratri, Holi, Rath Yatra and many more. Simple Pana recipes like taking out the juice of stone apple (Bela) and serving it after adding sugar or black pepper is a primary go-to drink for summer for rehydration.

Temples and community centres also serve Pana after offering it to the tulsi plant. You may also notice people arranging small clay pots near tulsi plants at their homes and temples with a small hole in them that drips water and Pana as an offering to the Goddess. This Pana is majorly made of the flour of horse gram, curd, and banana.

Celebrate the upcoming Pana Sankranti by relishing a variety of Panas and making them for your loved ones.