Jala Visuva Sankranti is the first day of the Baisakh month and is observed as New Year in Orissa. The ritual is also popularly known as Mahavishuba Sankranti and Pana Sankranti and is on April 15, 2016. The story of Jala Sankranti is associated with Bhishma of the Mahabharata and is mentioned in the Bhavishya Purana.
'Bhishma after being defeated by Arjuna in the Mahabharata war was lying on a bed of arrows (Shara Sajya). Pandavas and Kauravas had assembled near him and he asked for some water. Arjun then aimed an arrow in the ground and from the crevice created by the arrow appeared Holy River Ganga to thirst the quench of Bhishma.
Out of contentment and compassion Bhishma said that those people who would offer cold water to thirsty people on this day would not only be free from all sins, but also the departed souls of their ancestors as well as the Gods in heaven would be pleased.
In remembrance of this day people in Orissa distribute water and a popular drink called Pana.