Every year around January 15th we help to organize the Makara Sankranti festival at Dayalu Baba’s ashram in Odisha. Dayalu Baba is a sadhu who has been living at the base of a sacred mountain on the edge of Odisha’s Simlipal forest range for many decades. This year we arranged to feed all the visitors for three days (14th, 15th and 16th of January) from morning till evening.
Among the tribal and rural population of Odisha, Makara Sankranti is perhaps the most important festival of the year. Everyone will dress in their best clothes, and then spend the day visiting temples and ashrams, participating in the pujas and nonstop kirtan that is held.
Cooking is done by local ashram devotees using fire wood collected from the nearby forest. We prepared rice, dalma (a thick dahl with vegetables), tomato chutney, and fried papads, beginning the distribution in the morning and running till after sunset.
Below are a few more random photos from the festival showing Dayalu Baba and the visiting devotees. Next month the ashram will be celebrating Shiva Ratri, and we have told Baba that we would arrange for distribution of food then as well. It would be nice if we could eventually make a simple tin roof hall here for visitors to sit and eat, as we experienced slight rain on the first morning of the festival this year making it hard for people to eat.
Here is a short video about the cooking and distribution: