Makar Sankranti

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Makar Sankranti
Kite shop in Lucknow.jpg
Colourful kites being sold in a Shop in Lucknow
Also called Sankaranthi or Pongal
Type Seasonal, Traditional
Significance Festival of Harvest, Celebration of day after Winter Solstice
Celebrations Kite flying
Date day when the Sun begins its movement away from the Tropic of Capricorn (mid-January)
2014 date 14 January[1]
2015 date 15 January
2016 date 15 January

Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated in almost all parts of India and Nepal in a myriad of cultural forms. It is a harvest festival.

Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India and is a traditional event. Makara Sankranthi is a solar event making one of the few Indian festivals which fall on the same date in the Gregorian calendar every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 13 or 15 January.

History[edit]

According to the Hindu calendar Makar Sankranti is a festival celebrated at Magh 1st of Hindu Solar Calendar for the happiness of getting new crops for farmers.It also symbols the end of the winter solace which makes the day last longer than night

Date and significance[edit]

Makar Sankranti has an astrological significance, as the sun enters the Capricorn (Sanskrit: Makara) zodiac constellation on that day[citation needed]. This date remains almost constant with respect to the Gregorian calendar. However, precession of the Earth's axis (called ayanamsa) causes Makar Sankranti to move over the ages[citation needed]. A thousand years ago, Makar Sankranti was on 31 December and is now on 14 January[citation needed]. According to calculations, commencing the year 2050, Makar Sankranti will fall on 15 January and occasionally on 16 January.[citation needed].

Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. Makara 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 Makara in Sanskrit, this occasion is named as Makara 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

Makar 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 of divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.

Makar Sankranti and the Winter Solstice[edit]

Winter Solstice

Many Indians 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. Further, the Sun makes its northward journey on the day after winter solstice when day light increases. Therefore, Makar Sankranti signifies the celebration of the day following the day of winter solstice.

Scientifically, currently in the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice occurs between December 21 and 22. Day light will begin to increase on 22 December and on this day, the Sun will begin its northward journey which marks Uttarayaan.[2] The date of winter solstice changes gradually due to the Axial precession of the Earth, coming earlier by approximately 1 day in every 70 years. Hence, if the Makara Sankranti at some point of time did mark the day after the actual date of winter solstice, a date in mid-January would correspond to around 300CE.

Sankranti[edit]

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 popularly celebrated in Karnataka (Sankranthi), Telangana (Sankranthi), Andhra pradesh (Sankranthi) and Tamil Nadu (Pongal).

In India it is known by different regional names.

In other countries too the day is celebrated but under different names and in different ways.

Maithali, Newar :- Maghe Sankranti

Traditions, rituals and celebration[edit]

This is the one of the very important rituals in India to be performed on Makar Sankranti. Women will offer the Shreemangalchandika prapatti on the day of Sankranti (the 14th or the 15th of January). It holds a significance because on this day, Mata Mahishasurmardini with the purpose of destroying Mahishasur, first set foot on earth, in the Kataraaj ashram of Rishi Kardam and Devahuti. Women will offer the ShreeMangalChandika Prapatti‘Shreemangalchandika naimittik prapatti’ after sunset on the day of Sankranti. This again because it was after sunset that the Mahishasurmardini set foot in the Kataraaj ashram. If She were to come during the day, no man would have been able to bear her radiance and so She came after sunset, when it was dark.

Offering the prapatti on the day of Sankranti makes out of every woman, the protective soldier of her family on the one hand and the bodyguard of each of her family members on the other. Irrespective of whether she is a mother, a sister or a wife, she definitely becomes the protector of the family.

It is also celebrated differently in different regions of India.

Nepal[edit]

Maghe Sankranti (Nepali:माघे सङ्क्रान्ति Nepal Bhasa:घ्यःचाकु संल्हु) is a Nepalese festival observed on the first of Magh in the Bikram Samwat Nepali calendar (about 14 January) bringing an end to the ill-omened month of Poush when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. On this day, the sun is believed to leave its southernmost position and begin its northward journey. Maghe Sankranti is similar to solstice festivals in other religious traditions.[1]

Observant Hindus take ritual baths during this festival, notably at auspicious river locations. These include Sankhamul on the Bagmati near Patan; In the Gandaki/Narayani river basin at Triveni near the Indian border, Devghat near Chitwan Valley and Ridi [2] on the Kaligandaki; and in the Koshi River basin at Dolalghat on the Sun Koshi. Festive foods like laddoo, ghee and sweet potatoes are distributed to all relatives and friends. The mother of each household wishes good health to all family members.

The legend states that a successful businessman was curious as to why his supply of sesame seed seemed to be never ending. When he inspected the bag he found an idol of Lord Vishnu, the preserver.[3]

According to Mahabharata, king Bhisma, who had the power to control his own death, happened to choose to die on the day of Maghe Sakranti. Therefore, it is believed that one to die on this day might achieve Moksha, a release from rebirth cycle.

As per Kirat community this festival is celebrated as a start of a new year which is called Yele Dhung.[4] Based on the rical evidence Kirat calendar was started when King Yalamber conquered Kathmandu valley.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana[edit]

The festival, Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి), is celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as below:

  • Day 1 – Bhogi (భోగి)
  • Day 2 – Makara Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి-పెద్ద పండుగ)- the main festival day
  • Day 3 – Kanuma (కనుమ)
  • Day 4 — Mukkanuma

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, vices, attachment to relations and material 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 the Indian Jujube fruit Ziziphus mauritiana, called "Regi Pandlu" in Telugu. 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. People wear new clothes, pray to God, and make offerings of traditional food to ancestors who have died. They also make beautiful and ornate drawings and patterns on the ground with chalk or flour, called "muggu" or "Rangoli" in Telugu, in front of their homes. These drawings are decorated with flowers, colours and small, hand-pressed piles of cow dung, called "gobbemma (గొబ్బెమ్మ)".

For this festival all families prepare Chakinalu, Nuvvula Appalu, Gare Appalu or Katte Appalu or karam appalu, Madugulu (Jantikalu), Bellam Appalu, kudumulu, 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.

On the day after Makara Sankranti, the animal kingdom is remembered and in particular, the cows. Young girls feed the animals, birds and fish 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.

On the third day, Kanuma (కనుమ) is celebrated. Kanuma is an event which is very intimate to the hearts of farmers because it is the day for praying and showcasing their cattle with honor. Cattles are the symbolic indication of sign of prosperity.

Nowadays Kanuma is not being celebrated widely as it used to be but is an integral part of the Sankranti culture and is meant for Thanksgiving to Cattle.

Fourth day is called Mukkanuma (ముక్కనుమ) which is popular among the non-vegetarians of the society. On this day, Farmers offer the prayers to the elements (like soil, rain, fire for helping the harvest) and the (village) goddesses with their gifts which sometimes (& these days mainly) include animal(s).

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.

Kanuma, Mukkanuma & the day following Mukkanuma also calls for celebrations with union of families, friends, relatives followed by various fun activities, which mainly include Cock Fighting, Bullock/Ox Racing, Kite Flying, Ram (Pottelu) Fighting.

On this occasion, in every town and city, people play with kites and the sky can be seen filled with beautiful kites. Children and elders enjoy this kite flying occasion.

Another notable feature of the festival in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is the Haridasa who goes early in the morning around with a colorfully 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 everyone's house.

Assam[edit]

Main article: Bihu

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).[1] It is the Assam celebration of Sankranthi, with feasting lasting for a week. [2] The festival is marked by feasts and bonfires. [3] 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. [4] The celebrations also feature traditional Assamese games such as tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting. [5] Bhogali Bihu

Main article: Bhogali Bihu

Bhogali Bihu (mid-January, also called Magh Bihu) comes from the word Bhog that is eating and enjoyment. [9] 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. [10] 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[edit]

Teel Barfi made predominantly of teel (sesame seeds) and gud

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 good harvest. The delicacies include chura, gur (jaggery), various sweets made of til (sesame seeds) such as tilgul, 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 khichdi (dal-rice replete with cauliflower, peas and potatoes).

The festival is one of the most important festivals. People start their day by worshiping and putting til (sesame seeds) into fire followed by eating "Dahi-chuda", a dish made of beaten rice (chuda or poha, in Hindi, or avalakki, in Kannada) served with an even larger serving of dahi (curd), with cooked kohada (red pumpkin) that is prepared specially with sugar and salt but no water. The meal is generally accompanied by Tilkut and Lai (laddu made of til, chuda and rice). The festive meal for occasion is traditionally made by women in groups. Since the meal is heavy, lunch is generally skipped on the day and the time is, instead, spent on socializing and participating in kite flying festivals. At night a special khichdi is made and served with its four traditional companions, "char yaar" (four friends), namely, chokha (roasted vegetable), papad, ghee and achaar. Since such a rich khichdi is generally made on this festival, the festival is often colloquially referred to as "Khichdi".

Delhi and Haryana[edit]

Yadav's,Jats and other rural communities of Delhi and Haryana, and many neighbouring states consider Sakraat or Sankranti to be one of the main festivals of the year. Churma of desi ghee, Halwa and Kheer are cooked specially in Jat's and yadav's homes on this day. One brother of every married woman visits her home with a gift in the form of some warm clothing for her and her husband's family. It is called "Sidha". Women used to give some gift to their in-laws and this rituals called "Manana". The person(who is going to get gift) will sit in a Haweli (main palace where men sit together and share Hookka). Women go to Haweli to sing folk songs and give gifts to that person.

Goa[edit]

Celebrations in Goa closely resemble to that in Maharashtra. It is the women folk who celebrate 'haldi-kumkum'.

Gujarat[edit]

Uttarayan, as Makara Sankranti is called in Gujarati, is a major festival in the state of Gujarat which lasts for two days.

  1. 14 January is Uttarayan
  2. 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 Makara 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,Rajkot, Ahmedabad, and Bhavnagar 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","phirki vet phirki" and "lapet lapet" in Gujarati language.

Himachal Pradesh[edit]

In Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh Makara Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji. Saaji 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 Makara (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).

Karnataka[edit]

This is the Suggi(ಸುಗ್ಗಿ) or harvest festival for farmers 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."[4] 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 also contains sugar candy moulds of various shapes (Sakkare Acchu, ಸಕ್ಕರೆ ಅಚ್ಚು) with a piece of sugarcane.[5] There is a saying in Kannada "ellu bella thindu olle maathadi" (similar to the saying tilgul kha aani god bola in Maharashtra) 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.[6]Ellu Bella, Ellu Unde, bananas, sugarcane, red berries, haldi and kumkum and small gift items useful in everyday lives, are often exchanged among ladies in Karnataka similar to the tradition in Maharashtra.

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 / sumangali) 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 rangoli in groups is another popular event among women during Sankranti.[7]

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 fire. This ritual is common in rural Karnataka and is called "Kichchu Haayisuvudu."[8]

Kerala[edit]

Makara Sankranti is celebrated in Kerala at Sabarimala where the Makara Jyothi is visible followed by the Makaravilakku celebrations.

Kumaon (Uttarakhand)[edit]

In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Makara 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 'Makara' (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 Makara 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:

Kale Kale,
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.)

Maharashtra[edit]

Multicolored sugar halwa surrounded by til-gul (sesame and jaggery) ladoos. These exchanged and eaten on Makara Sankranti in Maharashtra

In Maharashtra on the Makara Sankranti (मकर संक्रान्ति) day people exchange multicolouredHalwa (sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and Til-Gul Laadoo (sweetmeats made from sesame seeds and jaggery). Gulachi Poli / Puran Poli (गुळाची पोळी / पुरण पोळी) [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 ghyaa, aani goad-goad bolaa" meaning ‘Accept this til-gul (sweet) and utter 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. The importance of sesame seeds is it keeps body warm and also provide good quantity of oil, which is needed as winter dried up the moist from body.

In Maharashtra, similar to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Makar Sankaranti is normally 3 days festival. Day 1 is known as Bhogi (भोगी), day 2 as Sankrant (संक्रांत) and day 3 as Kinkrant/Kinkranti (किंक्रांत/किंक्रांती).

The story behind this festival is Sankarasur (संकरासुर) Rakshasa was very brutal indeed. And He started torturing and killing people. To finish off Sankarasur Goddess Sankranti (संक्रांति) appeared on the earth and killed Sankarasur. To celebrate the downfall of Sankarasur, people started festival Sankarti.

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 -vermillion) and given gifts such as utensils, 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.[citation needed] Maharastra is also famous for kite flying on this special occasion.

Kites waiting to catch the wind, held down by weights

Makara 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 like Ganga 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 in Karnataka (Pongal in Tamil Nadu), and in Punjab as Maghi.

Makara 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.

Makara 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 'Tilgud'. In Karnataka it is called 'Yellu-Bella'. In some states cattle are decorated with various colours and are made to jump over a bonfire.

Odisha[edit]

In Odisha people prepare makara chaula (Odia: 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 a change in food habits and intake of nourishing and rich food. Therefore, this festival holds traditional cultural significance. It is astronomically important for devotees who worship the sun god at the great Konark temple with fervour and enthusiasm as the sun starts its annual swing northwards.[3] According to various Indian calendars, the Sun's movement changes and the days from this day onwards become lengthier and warmer and so the Sun-God is worshiped on this day as a great benefactor. Many individuals at the start of the day perform a ritual bath while fasting.[3] Makara Mela (Fun fair) is observed at Dhabaleswar in Cuttack, Hatakeshwar at Atri in Khordha, Makara Muni temple in Balasore and near various deities in each district of Odisha. In Puri special rituals are carried out at the temple of Lord Jagannath.[3] In Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Kalahandi, Koraput and Sundargarh where the tribal population is greater, the festival is celebrated with great joy. They celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm, singing, dancing and generally having an enjoyable time. Many of the traditional calendars in Odisha start their New Year from the day of Sankranti. Various tribal groups celebrate with traditional dancing, eating their particular dishes sitting together, and by lighting bonfires.

Punjab[edit]

In Punjab, Makar Sankranti 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 sugarcane juice. It is also traditional to consume Khichdi and jaggery.

December and January are the coldest months of the year in the Punjab. Maghi represents the change of the season to warmer temperatures and increase in daylight. Huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Maghi and the day is celebrated as Lohri.

Rajasthan[edit]

"Makar Sankrati" or "Sankrat" in the Rajasthani language[4] is one of the major festivals in the state of Rajasthan. The day is celebrated with some special Rajasthani delicacies and sweets such as pheeni (either with sweet milk or sugar syrup dipped), til-paati, gajak, kheer, ghevar, pakodi, puwa, and til-laddoo.[5]

Specially, the ladies of this region observe a kind of ritual in which they give any type of object (related to household, make-up or food) to 13 married women. The first Sankranti experienced by a married woman is of significance as she is invited by her parents and brothers to their houses with her husband for a big feast. People invite friends and relatives (specially their sisters and daughters) to their home for special festival meals (called as "Sankrant Bhoj"). Also people give out many kind of small gifts such as til-gud (jaggery), fruits, dry khichadi, etc. to Brahmins or the needy ones.

Kite flying is traditionally observed as a part of this festival.[6] On this occasion the sky in Jaipur and Hadoti regions is filled with kites, and youngsters engage in kite contests trying to cut each other's strings.[6]

Tamil Nadu[edit]

Main article: Thai Pongal

It is a four-day festival in Tamil Nadu:

  • Day 1: Bhogi Pandigai (போகி பண்டிகை)
  • Day 2: Thai Pongal (தை பொங்கல்)
  • Day 3: Maattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்)
  • Day 4: Kaanum Pongal (காணும் பொங்கல்)

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(போகி). 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. Also in a villages there will be a simple ceremony of "Kappu Kattu" (kappu means secure) will be done. The 'neem' leaves are kept along the walls and roof of the houses. This is to eliminate the evil forces.

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 "பொங்கலோ பொங்கல்(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(மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்). 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(காணும் பொங்கல் - 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 (கோலம்) decorations are made in front of the house during Thai Pongal festival.

Uttar Pradesh[edit]

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.[7] If they cannot go in river then they have to bath at home. But there is a compulsion to bath at morning while fasting, first they bath then they eat sweets such as til ladoo and gud laddo (known as tillava in Bhojpuri). At some places new clothes are also worn on this day.

Kite flying in the rooftops of Varanasi

Kite flying is an inevitable part of the festival in Uttar Pradesh,[7] as with many states of India such as Gujarat and Maharashtra. Like other places in India, the references to sweets, til (sesame seeds) and gud (jaggery) are also found in the songs sung on this day:

Meethe Gug me mil gaya Til,
Udi Patang aur khil gaye Dil,
Jeevan me bani rahe Sukh aur Shanti,
Mubarak ho aapko Makar-Sankranti.

West Bengal[edit]

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 'Pitha' (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 as 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).[8] Ganga Sagar falls in West Bengal.

In the day of Makar Sankrinti Hindu God Dharma is worshiped. And Hotchpot or rice is offered to the God as Bhog (ভোগ). The day after Makar Sankranti the first day in the month Magh from Bengali calendar The Goddess Laxmi devi is worshiped. It is called BAHARLAXMI PUJA as the idol is worshiped in an open place.

Melas[edit]

Many melas or fairs are held on Makara Sankranti the most famous being the Kumbha Mela, held every 12 years at one of four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. The Magha 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). Makara Mela in Odisha. Tusu Mela also called as Tusu Porab is celebrated in many parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2014 Makar Sankranti, Pongal Date and Time for New Delhi, NCT, India". drikpanchang.com. 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 2014 Makar Sankranti 
  2. ^ Sun - in Hindu Mythology by Anindita Basu
  3. ^ a b c Times News Network (TNN) (15 January 2014). "Makar Sankranti observed with pomp in state". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Krishnan, Rukmini (10 January 2014). "Makar Sankranti Celebrations". DNA (Diligent Media Corporation). Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Makar Sankranti Food". Ifood TV. Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Press Trust of India (PTI) (14 January 2014). "Makar Sankranti celebrations: Sky lanterns dot the sky". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Traditional fervour marks Makar Sankranti". The Times of India. 15 January 2012. Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Devotees throng Gangasagar on Makara Sankranti". Retrieved 15 January 2012. 

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