India is a land of varied cultures and traditions. The whole country has different festivals that are celebrated in different parts of the nation. One such festival is Makar Sankranti. Celebrated with much fervour across India, Makar Sankranti is the first major Hindu festival in the Gregorian calendar. The entire nation is gearing to celebrate the festival on January 14. This festival is celebrated on a specific day that is referred to as a solar day in the Hindu calendar.
Some important facts you need to know about Makar Sankranti:
- This festival marks the transition of the Sun into the astrological sign Capricorn or Makara. But, this holy festival also symbolizes the arrival of spring. It indicates the end of the winter and start of long days.
- This festival also marks the beginning of a six-month auspicious period of Hindus known as Uttarayana. Therefore the festival is known Uttrayan in the state of Gujarat.
- Makara Sankranti is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly, people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. The bathing is believed to result in merit or absolution of past sins.
- Sun is worshipped with a haldi-kumkum ceremony and a sacred puja is held in the morning for the same.
- People also pray to the sun and thank for their successes and prosperity.
- Kite flying is one of the sports that is practised on Sankranti. Hence this festival is also known as Kite Festival.
- Delicious food is prepared on Makar Sankranti among which Til or sesame seeds laddoo is one of the traditional eateries. Again dishes also differ from state to state as the name differ.
Though Sankranti is celebrated in different forms and names across the nation, the enthusiasm remains the same everywhere. It is celebrated as Lohri in Haryana and Punjab, in Bihar, the Makar Sankranti festival is known as Khichdi, it is referred to as Uttarayan in Gujarat. In Assam, Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the form of Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu to mark the end of harvesting season in the Magha month. The festival is known as Poush Parbon in West Bengal.
Sankranti in Telugu States:
A huge three-day affair, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fun in South India.
The first day of the festival is called Bhogi. As per the traditions, Bhogi Manta’ or a bonfire is lit at dawn and people discard old clothes and furniture to mark a new beginning. Following this, family members are showered with 'Regi Pandu' fruit to ward off the evil eye.
The second day is known as Sankranti, when people go to temples, perform puja and make various traditional eateries. People offer traditional food items to their ancestors on banana leaves.
The third day of the festival is 'Kanuma'. On this day the people of both Telugu states i.e., Telangana and Andhra Pradesh worship livestock and then feast on delicacies like chakinalu, ariselu and appalu.
Apart from religious pooja and other rituals, people organise kite flying competitions on the day of Makar Sankranti. Many big events are also organised where thousands of people take part and fly kites!