Tula Sankranti, a prominent Hindu festival
, is a celestial event that signifies the sun’s shift into the Tula Rasi or Libra zodiac sign. Celebrated on October 18, 2023
, this festival resonates deeply with the cultural, social, and religious heritage of India. While it holds significance throughout the nation, it is particularly cherished in the states of Odisha and Karnataka. Notably, Tula Sankranti coincides with Mahastami and is alternatively known as Garbhana or Garvana Sankranti.
The essence of Tula Sankranti lies in its intricate traditions and rituals, which blend the natural world with spirituality. Farmers revere this day as it symbolizes the culmination of their toil when their fields yield mature paddy crops. This reverence is expressed through offerings of freshly harvested rice and paddy.
In the picturesque Coorg district of Karnataka
, the people congregate at Tula Cauvery, the river’s origin point, to take a sacred dip. This water is believed to free a person from the cycle of birth and death on the day of Tula Sankranti. Goddess Parvati, symbolized by the river Cauvery, is worshiped with elaborate offerings.
Tula Sankranti is not only a time for spiritual reflection but also an occasion for families to come together, don new clothes, and enjoy a sumptuous meal. This is a moment of hope for abundance in the year ahead.
Moreover, the festival carries a legendary tale from the Skanda Purana, recounting the transformation of Kaveri (formerly Lopamudra or Vishnumaya), the daughter of Lord Brahma, into the river Cauvery. Her selflessness and the divine intervention in her story highlight the sacred importance of the river, leading to rituals such as holy dips at specific locations along its course.
In short, Tula Sankranti is a festival that beautifully interlaces nature’s cycles, spirituality, and communal celebration. It serves as a reminder of the deep-rooted connection between the agricultural abundance and the spiritual fabric of India, showcasing the richness of its traditions, rituals, and legends.
Rituals and Traditions
Agricultural Reverence in Odisha:
Tula Sankranti holds a special place in the hearts of Odisha’s farmers as it signifies the pinnacle of their laborious efforts in the fields. Known as “Garbhana Sankranti,” this day is a celebration of nature’s fertility and the fertility of the land itself. Farmers perceive the rice plants as living embodiments of Goddess Lakshmi, the divine source of wealth, prosperity, and fertility. To honor this auspicious occasion, they offer freshly harvested rice and paddy to the goddess, seeking her blessings for bountiful yields. Furthermore, as a gesture of protection against potential calamities like floods and pests, they present ‘Wheat’ grains and ‘Kara’ plant branches, underscoring their deep-rooted connection with the land.
In select villages across Odisha, Tula Sankranti brings forth a unique tradition that symbolizes the profound hope for a year filled with abundant harvests. This custom involves the meticulous measurement of essential crops like rice, wheat, and pulses. Each grain weighed and measured carries a profound significance, encapsulating the dreams and aspirations of the farming communities. The act of measuring becomes a symbolic ritual, not only representing the tangible yield of crops but also serving as a collective expression of optimism. It’s a testament to the unwavering faith in the earth’s fertility and the belief that nature will continue to bless them with prosperity throughout the year.
Coorg’s Sacred Dip:
In the picturesque Coorg district of Karnataka, Tula Sankranthi is celebrated with profound grandeur and spiritual fervor. At the sacred Tala Cauvery, the very source of the Cauvery River, devotees congregate to partake in a purifying dip in its holy waters. It is a belief deeply rooted in tradition that precisely as the Sun enters the Tula Rasi, a miraculous fountain springs forth, filling another tank. This divine water is revered for its potential to liberate the dying from the ceaseless cycle of birth and death. Goddess Parvati, symbolized by the mighty Cauvery, receives offerings of betel leaves, areca nuts, bangles, sandalwood paste, vermilion, and turmeric. The symbolic worship of a vegetable, often cucumber or coconut, known as Kanni Puje, further embodies the spiritual connection with nature and the river’s blessings.
Special Attire and Food
New Clothes in Odisha:
In the vibrant state of Odisha, Tula Sankranti brings not only spiritual significance but also an occasion for sartorial splendor. On this auspicious day, Odia households take delight in donning new and vibrant attire. The exchange of these fresh garments symbolizes renewal and the welcoming of positive energies for the year ahead. It’s a joyous occasion where families unite to partake in a sumptuous and celebratory lunch, relishing traditional delicacies. This communal feast not only nourishes the body but also nourishes the bonds of kinship and togetherness. With these rituals, Odisha ushers in Tula Sankranti with the collective hope for a year abundant in blessings and prosperity.
Vegetarian Delights in Karnataka:
In Karnataka, Tula Sankranti takes on a unique flavor as households switch to a strictly vegetarian menu for the occasion. This culinary tradition is marked by a respectful abstinence from hot beverages and alcohol, emphasizing purity and spiritual observance. Commonly enjoyed dishes during this festive period include dosa, delectable fermented rice, and lentil pancake, often served with an array of flavorful vegetable side dishes. The indulgence continues with paayasam, a sweet and creamy rice pudding that tantalizes the taste buds. Notably, yellow or white pumpkin preparations, such as the beloved Kumbala dish, take center stage, adding wholesome and earthy flavors to the celebratory spread. This gastronomic journey mirrors the cultural and spiritual significance of Tula Sankranti in Karnataka.
The legend of Kaveri, as recounted in the sacred Skanda Purana, weaves a captivating narrative that resonates deeply with the spiritual tapestry of South India. Kaveri, originally known as Lopamudra or Vishnumaya, is believed to be the divine daughter of Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe. Her destiny took a transformative turn when she became the adopted daughter of Kavera Muni, a revered sage.
Later, Agastya Muni fell in love with her and married her. However, this tale takes a poignant twist as the Muni’s neglect caused immense sorrow to Lopamudra. Her unmet emotional needs and solitude led her to take an extreme step. In an act of profound transformation, she metamorphosed into the majestic river Cauvery, flowing with unparalleled grace and serenity.
This transformation was not just a personal journey but a divine mission, as the river Cauvery would go on to benefit the land and its people, particularly in the region of Kodagu. The legend of Kaveri, or Cauvery, underlines the river’s sacred and nurturing importance in the lives of those it touches.
To honor this tale of selflessness and the river’s sanctity, devotees across South India, especially in Bhagamandala, Karnataka, and Mayavaram, Tamil Nadu, partake in holy dips during Tula Sankranti. This ritual not only serves as a symbolic purification but also deepens the spiritual connection with the river, acknowledging its vital role in sustaining life and culture in the region. Kaveri’s legend lives on as a testament to the timeless interplay between mythology, nature, and the spiritual heritage of the land.
Tula Sankranti is a festival that transcends the boundaries of mere celestial observations. It serves as a poignant reminder of the profound connection between humanity, nature’s bounty, and spirituality. Beyond being a mere date on the calendar, this celebration embodies a deep reverence for the Earth’s fertility and the blessings it bestows upon its inhabitants.
Through a tapestry of intricate rituals and offerings, Tula Sankranti becomes a bridge between the material and the divine. The act of offering freshly harvested crops to Goddess Lakshmi symbolizes the fusion of labor and gratitude, underscoring the belief that prosperity is a result of hard work and blessings from the divine.
Moreover, the legendary tale of Kaveri’s transformation into a river signifies the sacred role of nature in sustaining life and culture. It highlights the enduring connection between mythology and the environment.
Tula Sankranti unites communities transcending regional boundaries, to celebrate the Earth’s abundance and the continuity of life. It is a testament to the harmony that can be achieved when spirituality and the cycles of nature are intertwined, reminding us of the timeless bond between humans and the planet we call home.