Colourful kites being sold in a Shop in Lucknow
|Also called||Sankaranthi or Pongal|
|Significance||Festival of Harvest, Celebration of Winter Solstice|
|2013 date||14 January|
|2014 date||14 January|
Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious occasions for the Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of India and Nepal in a myriad of cultural forms, with great devotion, fervour, and gaiety. It is a harvest festival. Makar Sankranti is perhaps the only Indian festival whose date always falls on the same day every year: 14 January, with some exceptions, when the festival is celebrated on 13 January or 15 January. Makar Sankranti is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India.
- 1 History
- 2 Date and significance
- 3 Name
- 4 Scriptural and cultural significance
- 5 Traditions, rituals and celebration
- 6 Melas
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Makar Sankranti is the day when the Sun begins its movement away from the tropic of Capricorn and towards the northern hemisphere and thus it signifies an event wherein the Sun-God seems to remind their children that 'Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya'—may you go higher and higher, to more and more Light and never to Darkness.
To Hindus, the Sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makar Sankranti signifies that we should turn away from the darkness of delusion in which we live, and begin to enjoy a new life with bright light within us to shine brighter and brighter. We should gradually begin to grow in purity, wisdom and knowledge even as the Sun does from the Day of Makar Sankranti.
The festival of Makar Sankranti is highly regarded by the Hindus from north to south. The day is known by various names and a variety of traditions are witnessed as one explores the festival in different states.
Owing to the vast geography and diversity of culture in India, this festival is celebrated for innumerable reasons and in innumerable ways depending on the climate, agricultural environment, cultural background and location. On this day children fly kites.
Date and significance
Makara Sankranti has an astrological significance, as the sun enters the Capricorn (Sanskrit: Makar) zodiac constellation on that day. This date remains almost constant with respect to the Gregorian calendar. However, precession of the earth's axis (called ayanamsa) causes Makar Sankranti to slide further over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makar Sankranti was on 31 December and is now on 14 January. Five thousand years later, it shall be by the end of February, while in 9,000 years it shall come in June.
While the traditional Indian Calendar is based on lunar positions, Sankranti is a solar event. So while dates of all Hindu festivals keep changing as per the Gregorian calendar, the date of Makara Sankranti remains constant over a long term, 14 January. Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha.
Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. Many Indians also conflate this festival with the Winter Solstice, and believe that the sun ends its southward journey (Sanskrit: Dakshinayana) at the Tropic of Capricorn, and starts moving northward (Sanskrit: Uttarayaana) towards the Tropic of Cancer, in the month of Pausha on this day in mid-January. There is no observance of Winter Solstice in the Hindu religion. Makar Sankranti commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makar in Sanskrit, this occasion is named as Makar Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year (or may be sometimes on 15 January (leap year)).
Makara Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said as the 'holy phase of transition'. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be sanctified in any Hindu family, this day onwards. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.
All over the country, Makar Sankranti is observed with great fanfare. However, it is celebrated with distinct names and rituals in different parts of the country. In the states of northern and western India, the festival is celebrated as the Sankranti day with special zeal and fervour. The importance of this day has been signified in the ancient epics like Mahabharata also. So, apart from socio-geographical importance, this day also holds a historical and religious significance. As it is the festival of Sun God and he is regarded as the symbol divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.
Sankranti is celebrated all over South Asia with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different parts of the country.
In India it is known by different regional names.
- Makar Sankranti: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka,Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal
- Uttarayan: Gujarat and Rajasthan
- Maghi: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab
- Lohri: Punjab
- Pongal: Tamil Nadu
- Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu: Assam Valley
- Shishur Saenkraat: Kashmir Valley
- Khichdi: Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar
- Makara Sankramana: Karnataka
- Makara Sankramanam: Andhra Pradesh
In other countries too the day is celebrated but under different names and in different ways.
- Nepal: Maghe Sankranti
- Thailand: สงกรานต์ Songkran
- Laos: Pi Ma Lao
- Myanmar: Thingyan
- Cambodia: Moha Sangkran
Scriptural and cultural significance
|An article related to|
According to the Puranas, on this day Surya (Sun) visits the house of his son Shani (Saturn), who is the lord of the Makar rashi (Capricorn). Though the father and son duo did not get along well, the Surya made it a point to meet his son on this day. He, in fact, comes to his son's house, for a month. This day thus symbolises the importance of the special relationship between father and son.
From Makar Sankranti starts the 'day' of devatas (gods), while dakshinayana (southward movement of the sun) is said to be the 'night' of devatas, so most of the auspicious things are done during this time. Uttarayana is also called as Devayana, and the dakshinayana' is called Pitrayana.
It was on this day when Lord Vishnu ended the ever increasing terror of the asuras (demons) by finishing them off and burying their heads under the Mandara Parvata. So this occasion also represents the end of 'negativities' and beginning of an era of righteous living.
Maharaja Bhagiratha, performed great penance to bring Ganga down to the earth for the redemption of 60,000 sons of Maharaj Sagar, who were burnt to ashes at the Kapil Muni Ashram, near the present day Ganga Sagar. It was on this day that Bhagirath finally did tarpan[clarification needed] with the Ganges water for his unfortunate ancestors and thereby liberated them from the curse. After visiting the Pataala (underworld) for the redemption of the curse of Bhagirath's ancestors the Ganges finally merged into the sea. A very big Ganga Sagar Mela is organised every year on this day at the confluence of River Ganges and the Bay of Bengal. Thousands of Hindus take a dip in the water and perform tarpanA for their ancestors.
Another well-known reference of this day came when the great grand-sire of Mahabharata fame, Bhishma, declared his intent to leave his mortal coil on this day. He had the boon of Ichha-Mrityu (death at his will) from his father, so he kept lying on the bed of arrows till this day and then left his mortal coil on Makar Sankranti day. It is believed that the person, who dies during the period of Uttarayana, becomes free from transmigration (rebirth). So this day was seen as a definite auspicious day to start a journey or endeavours to the higher realms beyond.
Sikhs celebrate it as Maghi. The tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh tore the Beydaava written by 40 Sikhs and gave them Mukhti on this day. These 40 Sikhs later came to be known as 40 Mukhtas.
Traditions, rituals and celebration
It is celebrated differently in different regions of India.
The festival, Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి), is celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh as below:
- Day 1 – Bhogi (భోగి)
- Day 2 – Makara Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి-పెద్ద పండుగ)- the main festival day
- Day 3 – Kanuma (కనుము)
- Day 4 – Mukkanuma (ముక్కనుమ)
The day preceding Makara Sankranti is called Bhogi (భోగి) and this is when people discard old and derelict things and concentrate on new things causing change or transformation. At dawn people light a bonfire with logs of wood, other solid-fuels and wooden furniture at home that are no longer useful. The disposal of derelict things is where all old habits, the vices, attachment to relations and materials things are sacrificed in the sacrificial fire of the knowledge of Rudra, known as the "Rudra Gita Gyana Yagya. It represents realization, transformation and purification of the soul by imbibing and inculcating divine virtues.
In many families, infants and children (usually less than three years old) are showered with fruit called "Regi Pandlu", that is the Indian jujube fruit. It is believed that doing this would protect the children from evil eye. Sweets in generous quantities are prepared and distributed. It is a time for families to congregate. Brothers pay special tribute to their married sisters by giving gifts as affirmation of their filial love. Landlords give gifts of food, clothes and money to their workforce.
The second day is Makara Sankranti, also called "Pedda Panduga" (పెద్ద పండుగ), which literally means "the big festival", when everyone wears new clothes, prays to God, and make offerings of traditional food to ancestors who have died. They also make big and beautiful muggu (ornate drawings done in chalk on the ground) in front of their homes and they decorate the muggu with flowers, colours and sparkle colours.
On the day after Makara Sankranti, the animal kingdom is remembered and in particular, the cows. Young girls feed the animals, birds and fishes as a symbol of sharing. Travel is considered to be inappropriate, as these days are dedicated for re-union of the families. Sankranti in this sense demonstrates their strong cultural values as well as a time for change and transformation. And finally, gurus seek out their devotees to bestow blessings on them.
Kanuma Panduga (కనుమ) is not as widely celebrated, but is an integral part of the Sankranti culture. Mukkanuma (ముక్కనుమ) is popular among the non-vegetarians of the society.
People in Coastal Andhra do not eat any meat or fish during the first three days of the festival, and do so only on the day of Mukkanuma, whereas people in Telangana region observe only the first two days as part of the festival. They eat rice cooked with til (sesame seeds) on the first day and eat meat on Makara Sankranti (Pedda Panduga), the second day of the festival. For this festival all families prepare Ariselu, Appalu (a sweet made of jaggery and rice flour) dappalam (a dish made with pumpkin and other vegetables) and make an offering to God.
This festival Sankranti is celebrated in almost every village and town with adventurous games in South India. Whether it is the cock fights in Andhra, Bull fighting in Tamil Nadu or Elephant Mela in Kerala, there is huge amount of illegal betting but the so-called "tradition" continues to play a major role in the festival.
Another notable feature of the festival in South India is the Haridasa who goes early in the morning around with a colourfully dressed cow, singing songs of Lord Vishnu (Hari) hence the name Haridasu (servant of Hari). It is a custom that he should not talk to anyone and only sing songs of lord vishnu when he goes to everyones house. During these days people from Hyderabad fly kites from terraces of their buildings. Children and elders enjoy this kite flying a
Magh Bihu In Assam, the festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu. Magh Bihu (also called Bhogali Bihu (Bihu of enjoyment) or Maghar Domahi) is a harvest festival celebrated in Assam, India, which marks the end of harvesting season in the month of Maagha (January–February). It is the Assam celebration of Sankranthi, with feasting lasting for a week.  The festival is marked by feasts and bonfires.  Young people erect makeshift huts, known as meji, from bamboo, leaves and thatch, in which they eat the food prepared for the feast, and then burn the huts the next morning.  The celebrations also feature traditional Assamese games such as tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting.  Bhogali Bihu
Bhogali Bihu (mid-January, also called Magh Bihu) comes from the word Bhog that is eating and enjoyment.  It is a harvest festival and marks the end of harvesting season. Since the granaries are full, there is a lot of feasting and eating during this period. On the eve of the day called uruka, i.e., the last day of pausa, menfolk, more particularly young men go to the field, preferably near a river, build a makeshift cottage called Bhelaghar with the hay of the harvest fields and the Meji, the most important thing for the night. During the night, they prepare food and there is community feasting everywhere. There is also exchange of sweets and greetings at this time. The entire night (called Uruka) is spent around a Meji with people singing bihu songs, beating Dhol, a typical kind of drums or playing games. Boys roam about in the dark stealing firewood and vegetables for fun. The next morning they take a bath and burn the main Meji. People gather around the Meji and throw Pithas (rice cakes) and betel nuts to it while burning it at the same time. They offer their prayers to the God of Fire and mark the end of the harvesting year. Thereafter they come back home carrying pieces of half burnt firewood for being thrown among fruit trees for favourable results. All the trees in the compound are tied to bamboo strips or paddy stems. Different types of sports like Buffalo-fight, Egg-fight, Cock-fight, Nightingale-fight etc. are held throughout the day. There are other conventional festivals observed by various ethnic-cultural groups. Me-dam-me-phi, Ali-aye-ligang, Porag, Garja, Hapsa Hatarnai, Kherai are few among them. The koch celebrates this bihu as pushna.  All assamese people around the world celebrates this tradition on the month of January as per English calendar. The Uruka comes on 13 January and Bihu is on 14–15.
Instruments used in Bihu include:
Bihar and Jharkhand
In Bihar and Jharkhand, the festival is celebrated on 14–15 January.
On 14 January, it is celebrated as Makar Sankranti or Sakraat or KHICHDI (in local dialects).As in other parts of country, people take baths in rivers and ponds and feast upon seasonal delicacies as a celebration of a good harvest. The delicacies include chura, gur (jaggery), various sweets made of til (desame seeds) such as tilkut, tilwa, maska, etc., curd, milk and seasonal vegetables. Kite flying festivals are also organised, albeit on a small scale.
On 15 January, it is celebrated as Makraat (in some parts of the state) when people relish special khichri (dal-rice replete with cauliflower, peas and potatoes).
This festival is considered to be one of the most important festivals. People start their day by worshiping and putting til (sesame seeds) into fire followed by eating "Dahi-chuda"(remember dahi-chuda is different than chuda-dahi, as in former dahi, i.e. curd predominates over chuda, i.e. beaten rice or avalakki in Kannada in amount) along with Tilkut and Lai.
Generally in the morning people eat chuda-dahi (dahi-chuda is favourite of Maithil Brahmins) with kohada (red pumpkin) ka bhujiya which is made specially with sugar and salt combination without adding water in it, with lots of LAI, i.e. laddus made of til, chuda, chawal(rice). Women used to prepare these things in groups. After a such heavy meal it becomes next to impossible to eat lunch in the afternoon, so people spend the time in greeting others and playing with kites. At night a special KHICHDI is made. "khichdi ke 4 yaar, chokha, papad, ghee, achaar" some prefer to add many more side dishes with khichdi like chatni, tilauri, etc. Since such a rich khichdi is generally only made once a year, the festival is also referred to as "Khichdi".
Celebrations in Goa closely resemble to that in Maharashtra. The men hardly take part in the celebrations but it is the women folks who celebrate 'haldi-kumkum'
Uttarayan, as Makar Sankranti is called in Gujarati, is a major festival in the state of Gujarat which lasts for two days.
- 14 January is Uttarayan
- 15 January is Vasi-Uttarayan(Stale Uttarayan)
Gujarati people keenly await this festival to fly kites, called 'patang' in Gujarati. Kites for Uttarayan are made of special light-weight paper and bamboo and are mostly rhombus shaped with central spine and a single bow. The string often contains abrasives in order to cut down other people's kites.
In Gujarat, from December through to Makar Sankranti, people start enjoying Uttarayan. Undhiyu (spicy, baked mix of winter vegetables) and chikkis (made from til (sesame seeds), peanuts and jaggery) are the special festival recipes savoured on this day.
In the major cities of Vadodara, Surat and Ahmedabad, the skies appear filled with thousands upon thousands of kites as people enjoy two full days of Uttarayan up on their terraces.
When people cut any kites they used to yell with words like "kaypo chhe", "e lapet" and "phirko vet phirko" in Gujarati language.
In Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh Makar Sankranti is known as Magha Saaja. Saaja is Pahari word for Sakranti, start of the new month. Hence this day marks the start of the month of Magha.
According to the Hindu religious texts, on the day of Uttarayani the sun enters the Zodiacal sign of Makar (Capricon), i.e. from this day onwards the sun becomes 'Uttarayan' or it starts moving to the north. It is said that from this day, which signals a change of season, the migratory birds start returning to the hills. On Magha Saaja people wake up early in the morning and take ceremonial dips and shower in the water springs or Baolis. In the daytime people visit their neighbours and together enjoy Khichdi with Ghee and Chaas and also give it in charity at temples. Festival culminates with singing and Naati(folk dance).
This is the Suggi or harvest festival for farmers of Kaveri basin of Karnataka. On this auspicious day, young females (kids and teenagers) wear new clothes to visit near and dear ones with a Sankranti offering in a plate, and exchange the same with other families. This ritual is called "Ellu Birodhu." Here the plate would normally contain "Ellu" (white sesame seeds) mixed with fried groundnuts, neatly cut dry coconut and fine cut bella (jaggery). The mixture is called "Ellu-Bella" (ಎಳ್ಳು ಬೆಲ್ಲ). The plate will also contain sugar candy moulds of various shapes (Sakkare Acchu, ಸಕ್ಕರೆ ಅಚ್ಚು) with a piece of sugarcane. There is a saying in Kannada "ellu bella thindu olle maathadi" which translates to 'eat the mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good.' This festival signifies the harvest of the season, since sugarcane is predominant in these parts.
In some parts of Karnataka, a newly married woman is required to give away bananas for a period of five years to married women (muthaidhe) from the first year of her marriage, but increase the number of bananas in multiples of five. There is also a tradition of some households giving away red berries "Yalchi Kai" along with the above. In North Karnataka, kite flying with community members is also a tradition. Drawing rangole in groups is another popular event among women during Sankranti.
An important ritual is display of cows and cattle in colourful costumes in an open field. Cows are decorated for the occasion and taken on a procession. They are also made to cross a pyre. This ritual is common in rural Karnataka and is called "Kichchu Haayisuvudu."
In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great gusto. According to the Hindu religious texts, on the day of Uttarayani also called Ghughuti (घुघुति) in Kumaon, the sun enters the Zodiacal sign of 'Makar' (Capricon), i.e. from this day onwards the sun becomes 'Uttarayan' or it starts moving to the north. It is said that from this day, which signals a change of season, the migratory birds start returning to the hills. On Makar Sankranti people give Khichadi (a mixture of pulses and rice) in charity, take ceremonial dips in holy rivers, participate in the Uttarayani fairs and celebrate the festival of Ghughutia or Kale Kauva. During the festival of Kale Kauva (literal translation 'black crow') people make sweetmeats out of sweetened flour (flour and gur) deep fried in ghee, shape them in shapes such as drums, pomegranates, knives, and swords. They are strung together and worn as necklace, in the middle of which an orange is fixed. Early in the morning children wear these necklaces and sing "Kale Kauva" to attract crows and other birds and offer them portions of these necklaces, as a token of welcome for all the migratory birds, who are now coming back after their winter sojourn in the plains. Wearing garlands of the above eatables the children come out calling the crows with following song on their lips:
bhol bate aile bor puwa,
Khale Ie Kauva bara,
mai ke de sunu gharo,
Ie Kauva dhal,
mai ke de sunu thai.
काले कौवा काले घुघुति माला खाले
ले कौवा बड़ा मकें दे सुणो घड़ा
ले कौवा ढाल मकें दे सुणो थाल
(Come dear crow, come daily you will enjoy eating bara and puwa. Take the bara and give me a pitcher full of gold. Take the shield and give me a golden plate.)
In Maharashtra on the Makar Sankranti (मकर संक्रान्ति) day people exchange multi-coloured halwa(sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and til-gul ladoos (sweetmeats made from sesame seeds and jaggery). Gulachi Poli (flat bread stuffed with soft/shredded Jaggery mixed with toasted, ground Til (white sesame seeds)and some gram flour which has been toasted to golden in plenty of pure Ghee) are offered for lunch. While exchanging til-gul as tokens of goodwill people greet each other with the words, "तिळगुळ घ्या आणि गोड गोड बोला/til-gul ghya, aani god god bola" meaning ‘Accept these tilguls and speak sweet words’. The underlying thought in the exchange of til-gul is to forget the past ill feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends.
This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kunku’ (literally meaning turmeric and vermillion) and given gifts such as utensil, clothes, etc. Typically, women wear black sarees or black coloured outfits on this occasion. The significance of wearing black is that Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and black colour retains and absorbs heat, helping keep warm. Maharastra is also famous for kite flying on this special occasion.
Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious days for the Hindus and is celebrated in almost all parts of India in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion. Millions of people take a dip in places likeGanga Sagar (the point where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal) and Prayag and pray to the Sun God (Surya). It is celebrated with pomp in southern parts of India as Sankranti (Pongal in Tamil Nadu), and in Punjab as Maghi.
In the western Indian state of Gujarat, the celebrations are even bigger. People offer thousands of their colourful oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites. The act stands as a metaphor for reaching to their beloved God, the one who represents the best. In the rural and coastal areas, cock fights are held and is a prominent event of the festival. Makar Sankranti is also to honour, worship and to pay respect to Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge). At the start of this significant event, there is also worship for the departed ancestors.
Makar Sankranti identifies a period of enlightenment, peace, prosperity and happiness followed by a period of darkness, ignorance and viciousness with immense sorrow. The six months of northern movement of the sun is followed by six months of southern movement.
Since the festival is celebrated in mid winter, food prepared for this festival is such that it keeps the body warm and gives high energy. Laddu of til made with Jaggery is a speciality of the festival. In the western Indian state of Maharashtra it is called 'Tilgul'. In Karnataka it is called 'Yellu-Bella'. In some states cattle are decorated with various colours and are made to jump over a bon-fire.
In Odisha people prepare makar chaula (Oriya: ମକର ଚାଉଳ: uncooked newly harvested rice, banana, coconut, jaggery, sesame, rasagola, Khai/Liaa and chhena puddings for naivedya to gods and goddesses. The withdrawing winter entails change in food habits and intake of nourishing and rich food. Therefore this festival also holds immense scientific significance. Devotees also worshiped the sun god at great Konark temple with great favour and enthusiasm as the sun started its annual swing northwards, according to various Indian calendars. According to the Sun's movement, the days from this day onwards become lengthy and warmer and so the Sun-God is worshiped as a great benefactor. Makar Mela (Fun fair) is observed at Dhabaleswar in Cuttack, Hatakeshwar at Atri in Khordha, Makar Muni temple in Balasore and near various deities in each district of Odisha. In the temple of Lord Jagannath this festival is observed as Nabanki and 'Uttarayana Yatra'. In Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, kalahandi, koraput and Sundargarh where the tribal population is more, the festival is celebrated with great joy. They have been celebrating this festival with great enthusiasm. They sing, dance and enjoy. Many tribal in our country start their New Year from the day of Sankranti by lighting bonfires, dancing and eating their particular dishes sitting together.
In Punjab where December and January are the coldest months of the year, huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Makar Sankranti and is celebrated as Lohri. Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown in the bonfires, around which friends and relatives gather together. The following day, which is Sankrant, is celebrated as Maghi. Bathing in any river in the early hours on Maghi is important. Hindus light lamps with sesame oil as this is supposed to give prosperity and drive away all sins. The Punjabis dance their famous dance known as "bhangra". Then they sit down and eat the sumptuous food that is specially prepared for the occasion. It is traditional to eat "kheer", rice cooked in milk and sugar.
This is one of the major festivals in the state of Rajasthan. It is known as "Makar Sakrat" in the Rajasthani language. This day is celebrated with some special rajasthani delicacies and sweets like Pheeni, Ghevar, Til-paati, Gajak, kheer, Pakodis, etc. Although traditionally flying kites is observed as a part of this festival. On this occasion the sky in Jaipur is filled with kites. People invite friends and relatives to their home for special festival meals (called as "Sakrat Bhoj").
It is a four-day festival in Tamil Nadu:
- Day 1: Bhogi Pandigai (Bhogi)
- Day 2: Thai Pongal
- Day 3: Maattu Pongal
- Day 4: Kaanum Pongal
The festival is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai.
The first day of festival is Bhogi. It is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials, by setting them on fire, marking the end of the old and the emergence of the new.
The second day of festival is Thai Pongal or simply Pongal. It is the main day of the festival, falling on the first day of the Tamil month Thai. It is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots, which are later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of "Ponggalo Ponggal!" and blowing the sangu (a conch), a custom practised during the festival to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings. Then New boiled rice is offered to the Nature during sunrise, a gesture which symbolises thanks to the sun and nature for providing prosperity. It is later served to the people present in the house for the ceremony. People also prepare savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam and visit each other and exchange greetings.
The third day of festival is Maattu Pongal. It is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmer in different ways for agriculture. On this day the cattle are decorated with paint, flowers and bells. They are allowed to roam free and fed sweet rice and sugar cane. Some people decorate the horns with gold or other metallic covers. In some places, Jallikattu, or taming the wild bull contest, is the main event of this day and this is mostly seen in the villages.
The fourth day of the festival is Kaanum Pongal (the word kaanum means "to view"). During this day people visit their relatives, friends to enjoy the festive season. This day is a day to thank relatives and friends for their support in the harvest. It started as a farmers festival, called as Uzhavar Thirunaal in Tamil. Kolam decorations are made in front of the house during Thai Pongal festival.
In Hindu Mythology this is the first of the big bathing days. Over two million people gather at their respective sacred places for this holy bathing such as Allahabad and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar in Uttarakhand.
Kite flying is an inevitable part of the festival in Uttar Pradesh, as with many states of India such as Gujarat and Maharashtra. Like other places in India, the references to til (sesame seeds) and gud (jaggery) are also found in the songs sung on this day
Meethe GUD me mil gaya TIL,
Udi PATANG aur khil gaye DIL,
Jeevan me bani rahe SUKH aur SHANTI,
MUBARAK ho apko MAKAR-SANKRANTI.
In West Bengal, Sankranti, also known as Poush Sankranti named after the Bengali month in which it falls (last date of that month), is celebrated as a harvest festival Poush Parbon (Bengali: পৌষ পার্বণ). (It always falls on 14 January on the English calendar). The freshly harvested paddy along with the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur (Bengali: খেজুরের গুড়)and Patali (Bengali: পাটালি ) is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and 'khejurer gur' (date palm jaggery) and known as 'Pithey' (Bengali: পিঠে). All sections of society participate in a three-day begins on the day before Sankranti and ends on the day after. The Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped on the day of Sankranti. In the Himalayan regions of Darjeeling, the festival is known as Magey Sakrati. It is distinctly associated with the worship of Lord Shiva. Traditionally, people were required to take a bath before sunrise and then commence their pooja. The food that is consumed consists primarily of sweet potatoes and various yams.
Millions of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar (the point where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal). Ganga Sagar falls in West Bengal.
Many melas or fairs are held on Makar Sankranti the most famous being the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years at one of four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. The Magh Mela (or mini-Kumbh Mela held annually at Prayag) and the Gangasagar Mela (held at the head of the Ganges River, where it flows into the Bay of Bengal). Makar Mela in Odisha. Tusu Mela also called as Tusu Porab is celebrated in many parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal.
- Sinhala and Tamil new year in Sri Lanka
- Hindu festivals
- Pohela Boishakh Bangladesh
- Songkran Thai New Year
- Water Festival
- "2014 Makar Sankranti, Pongal Date and Time for New Delhi, NCT, India". drikpanchang.com. 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. "2014 Makar Sankranti"
-  Images of Ganga Sagar Mela-Source-Google Images
-  Seven killed in stampede at Gangasagar mela-Source-Times of India
- Makar Sankranti in Karnataka
- The Hindu – Yellu mixture, sugar candy (sakkare acchu), sugarcane
- Sankraanti Among Kannidigas
- Sankranti celebrated in a special way
- Festivals in Karnataka » Makara Shankranti
- "Devotees throng Gangasagar on Makar Sankranti". Retrieved 15 January 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Makar Sankranti.|
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