Makar Sankranti

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Makara Sankranti
Kite shop in Lucknow.jpg
Colourful kites on sale in a shop in Lucknow, India
Also called Sankaranti
Observed by Indians, Nepalis (as Maghe Sankranti) and Bangladeshis (as Shakrain)
Type Hindu festival
Significance Festival of Harvest, Celebration of Winter Solstice
Celebrations Kite flying
Date day when the Sun begins its movement away from the Tropic of Capricorn (mid-January)
2016 date 15 January
2017 date 14 January
2018 date 14 January
Related to Maghe Sankranti (in Nepal)
Shakrain (in Bangladesh)

Makar Sankranti (also known as Makara Sankranti), according to the Hindu calendar, marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path,[2] which is the first change in the zodiac after the winter solstice.[3] The festival is celebrated in various parts of the Indian subcontinent to observe the day which marks the shift of the sun into ever-lengthening days. The festival is a seasonal observance as well as a religious celebration. Makara Sankranti is a solar event making it one of the few Hindu festivals which fall on the same date in local calendars every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January.[4] Although the festival has been celebrated on January 14 for the last 100 years, it will from 2019 be marked on January 15 or January 16, except in 2021.[5]

Date and significance[edit]

Makara Sankranti is observed at the beginning of the Capricorn period under the sidereal zodiac, either 14 or 15 January, and signifies the arrival of warmer days.[6] The festival is also dedicated to the sun god[7] and marks the six months auspicious period for Hindus known as Uttaarayan. The importance of Uttaarayan is exhibited in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, where Bhishma Pitamah waited for the sun to be in Uttaarayan for him to die willingly.[8]

Makara Sankranti is believed to be a time for peace and prosperity. The day is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery. The bathing is believed to wash away sins.[9]

Makara Sankranti and the Winter Solstice[edit]

Winter Solstice

In the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice occurs between 21 and 22 December. Day light begins to increase around this time when the Sun begins its northward journey which marks the six month northward journey of the sun known as (Sanskrit) Uttarayaana.[10] Makar Sankranti is the first solar festival which takes place after winter solstice which signifies the return of longer days. Therefore, the festival symbolically marks the winter solstice when the sun ends its zodiacal southward journey (Sanskrit: Dakshinayana) at the Tropic of Capricorn, in the Indian month of Pausha and starts moving northward (Uttarayaan) towards the Tropic of Cancer, in the Indian and Nepalese Hindu month of Magha on this day in mid-January.[11] In Hinduism, Uttarayaana is the six month period which begins from Makar Sankranti.[12]

The actual position of winter solstice in the sidereal zodiac changes gradually due to the Axial precession of the Earth, shifting westwards by approximately 1 degree in every 72 years. Hence, if Makara Sankranti at some point of time did mark the actual date of winter solstice, it would have been so around 300 CE, the heyday of Indian mathematics and astronomy.[citation needed]

Makara Sankranti[edit]

Makara or Makar Sankranti is celebrated in many parts of South Asia with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different parts of the region. Sometimes, different festivals coincide on the same day such as Thai Pongal and Makar Sankranti.

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.

Traditions, rituals and celebration[edit]

India[edit]

It is celebrated differently across regions of India.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana[edit]

The festival, Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి), is celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh[13] and Telangana:

  • Day 1 – Bhoghi (భోగి) (Andhra Pradesh, తెలంగాణ and Karnataka )
  • Day 2 – Makara Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి-పెద్ద పండుగ), the main festival day
  • Day 3 – Kanuma (కనుమ) (Andhra Pradesh And Telangana)
  • Day 4 — Mukkanuma (Andhra Pradesh And Telangana)
Bhogi(భోగి)

The day preceding Makara Sankranti is called Bhoghi (భోగి). This is when people discard old and derelict things and concentrate on new things causing change or transformation. At dawn, people light a bonfire[9] with logs of wood, other solid fuels and wooden furniture 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 fire of the knowledge of Rudra, known as the "Rudra Gita Gyana Yagna". 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 protects the children from the evil eye. Sweets in generous quantities are prepared and distributed. It is a time for families to congregate. Landlords give gifts of food, clothes and money to their workforce.

Makara Sankranti(మకర సంక్రాంతి)

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 "Rangoli" or "muggu" 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.

Kanuma(కనుమ)

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

Nowadays Kanuma is not celebrated as widely as it used to be, but it is an integral part of the Sankranti culture and is meant for thanksgiving to cattle. On the day after Makara Sankranti, the animal kingdom is remembered and, in particular, cows. 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.

Mukkanuma

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

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 and the day following Mukkanuma call for celebrations with union of families, friends, relatives followed by fun activities, which mainly include cock fighting, bullock/ox racing, kite flying, and ram (pottelu) fighting.

On this occasion, in every town and city, people play with kites and the sky is filled with beautiful kites. Children and elders enjoy this occasion.

Another notable feature of the festival in Andhra Pradesh is the Haridasu 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 everyone's house.

Assam[edit]

A Buffalo fight held at Ranthali, in Nagaon District of Assam, on the occasion of Magh bihu.

Magh Bihu (মাঘ বিহু) (also called Bhogali Bihu (ভোগালী বিহু) (Bihu of eating foods and enjoyment) or Maghar Domahi (মাঘৰ দোমাহী) is a harvest festival celebrated in Assam, India, which marks the end of harvesting season in the month of Maagha (January–February).[14] It is the Assam celebration of Makar Sankranti, with feasting lasting for a week.[15]

The festival is marked by feasts and bonfires.[16] Young people erect makeshift huts, known as Meji and Bhelaghar, from bamboo, leaves and thatch, and in Bhelaghar they eat the food prepared for the feast, and then burn the huts the next morning.[17] The celebrations also feature traditional Assamese games such as tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting.[18] Magh Bihu celebrations start on the last day of the previous month, the month of "Pooh", usually the 29th of Pooh and usually the 14th of January, and is the only day of Magh Bihu in modern times (earlier, the festival would last for the whole month of Magh, and so the name Magh Bihu).[19] The night before is "Uruka" (28th of Pooh), when people gather around a bonfire, cook dinner, and make merry.

During Magh Bihu people of Assam make cakes of rice with various names such as Shunga Pitha, Til Pitha etc. and some other sweets of coconut called Laru or Laskara.

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), sweets made of til (sesame seeds) such as tilgul, tilwa, maska, etc., curd, milk and seasonal vegetables. Kite flying festivals are 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. 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 a 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 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) — 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]

Yadavs, Jats and other rural communities of Delhi and Haryana and many neighbouring states consider Sakraat or Sankranti to be a main festival of the year. Churma of ghee, halwa and kheer are cooked specially in Jats and Yadavs homes on this day. One brother of every married woman visits her home with a gift of some warm clothing for her and her husband's family. It is called "Sidha". Women used to give a gift to their in-laws, and this rituals called "Manana". The recipient 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.

Goa[edit]

Celebrations in Goa closely resemble to that in Maharashtra. The women celebrate 'haldi-kumkum'.

Gujarat[edit]

Uttarayan, as Makara Sankranti is called in Gujarati, is a major festival in the state of Gujarat[20] which lasts for two days.

  • 14 January is Uttarayan
  • 15 January is Vasi-Uttarayan (Stale Uttarayan).[21]

Gujarati people keenly await this festival to fly kites, called 'patang'. 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 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 Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, and Jamnagar the skies appear filled with thousands upon thousands of kites as people enjoy two full days of Uttarayan on their terraces.

When people cut any kites they yell words like "kaypo chhe", "e lapet","jaay jaay","phirki vet phirki" and "lapet lapet" in Gujarati.

Himachal Pradesh[edit]

In Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh, Makara Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji. Saaji is the Pahari word for Sakranti, start of the new month. Hence this day marks the start of the month of Magha.

According to Hindu religious texts, on the day of Uttarayani the sun enters the zodiac 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 springs or baolis. In the daytime people visit their neighbours and together enjoy khichdi with ghee and chaas and give it in charity at temples. Festival culminates with singing and Naati (folk dance).

Karnataka[edit]

Mysuru Decorated Cows. January 2017
Mysuru Decorated Cows. January 2017

This is the Suggi (ಸುಗ್ಗಿ) or harvest festival for farmers of Karnataka. On this auspicious day, girls 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 contains shaped sugar candy moulds (Sakkare Acchu, ಸಕ್ಕರೆ ಅಚ್ಚು) with a piece of sugarcane. There is a saying in Kannada "ellu bella thindu olle maathadi" that 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. Ellu Bella, Ellu Unde, bananas, sugarcane, red berries, haldi and kumkum and small gift items useful in everyday lives are often exchanged among women in Karnataka.

In some parts of Karnataka, a newly married woman is required to give away bananas for five years to married women (muthaidhe/sumangali) from the first year of her marriage and increase the number of bananas in multiples of five. There is also a tradition of some households giving away red berries "Yalchi Kai" with the above. In north Karnataka, kite flying with community members is a tradition. Drawing rangoli in groups is another popular event among women during Sankranti.

An important ritual is display of cows and bulls 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."

Kerala[edit]

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

Uttarakhand[edit]

In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Makara Sankranti is celebrated with great gusto.

According to Indian 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 Makara Sankranti (मकर संक्रान्ति) day people exchange multicoloured halwa (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 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 provide good oil, which is needed as winter dried up the moisture from body.

In Maharashtra, similar to Andhra Pradesh Makar Sankaranti, is normally a three-day 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 Sankranti.

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] Maharashtra 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 Indians 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 worship for 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 colours and are made to jump over a bonfire.

Odisha[edit]

The festival is known as Makar Sankranti in Odisha[22] where 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.[23] 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.[23] Makara Mela (Fun fair) is observed at Dhabaleswar in Cuttack, Hatakeshwar at Atri in Khordha, Makara Muni temple in Balasore and near deities in each district of Odisha. In Puri special rituals are carried out at the temple of Lord Jagannath.[23] 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. This Makara Sankranti celebration is next to the Odia traditional new year Maha Vishuva Sankranti which falls in mid April. Tribal groups celebrate with traditional dancing, eating their particular dishes sitting together, and by lighting bonfires.

It is the only Indian festival celebrated on a fixed day of the Georgian calendar. Besides the usual rituals, people of Orissa, especially Western Orissa, reaffirm the strength of the bond of friendship with their best friends during this occasion. The practice is called ‘Makar Basma’. After a man binds himself with one of his friends in the shackles of friendship during Makara Sankranti, afterwards he addresses the other as ‘Maharshad’ or ‘Marsad’; if two women tie the friendship lace on each other’s wrist, they call each other ‘Makara’. They don’t utter each other’s name. This goes on for one full year till the next Makara Sankranti. In Eastern Orissa, on many occasions, two friends feed each other ‘Mahaprasad’, the offering made in the famous Jagannath temple of Puri, and continue the friendship for at least one year. Orissa Post talks to some women about their experiences when they tied the friendship knot on Makara Sankranti.

Punjab[edit]

Main article: Maghi
Mela

In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Maghi which is a religious and cultural festival. Bathing in a 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. A major mela is held at Sri Muktsar Sahib on Maghi which commemorates a historical event in Sikh history.

According to older calendars which were in vogue prior to establishing Vaisakhi as the Punjabi new year, the year started with the month of Magh.[24] Accordingly, rural Punjabis regard Maghi as a new year too.[25] Maghi fairs are held in many places.

Culturally, people dance their famous "bhangra". They then 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.

Rajasthan and West Madhya Pradesh[edit]

"Makar Sankrati" or "Sankrat" in the Rajasthani language[26] is one of the major festivals in the state of Rajasthan. The day is celebrated with 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.[27]

Specially, the women of this region observe a 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"). 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.[28] On this occasion the sky in Jaipur and Hadoti regions is filled with kites, and youngsters engage in contests trying to cut each other's strings.[28]

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.

Bhogi

The first day of festival is Bhogi (போகி). It is celebrated on the last day of Margazshi[29] 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. In 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 evil forces.

Thai Pongal

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 which starts with the solar cycle when sun starts moving through the summer solstice. 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 "பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் (Ponggalo Ponggal)!" and blow the sangu (a conch), a custom practised to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings. Then new boiled rice is offered to the Sun god during sunrise, as a prayer which symbolises thanks to the sun for providing prosperity. It is later served to the people in the house for the ceremony. People prepare savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam and visit each other and exchange greetings.

Maattu Pongal

The third day of festival is Maattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்). It is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmers in 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.

Kaanum Pongal

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. It 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]

The festival is known as Kicheri in Uttar Pradesh and involves ritual bathing.[30] 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.[31] If they cannot go in river then they bathe at home. There is a compulsion to bathe in the morning while fasting; first they bathe then they eat sweets such as til ladoo and gud laddo (known as tillava in Bhojpuri). At some places new clothes are worn on this day.

Kite flying in the rooftops of Varanasi

Kite flying is an inevitable part of the festival in Uttar Pradesh,[31] 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 found in the songs sung on this day:

Meethe Gur 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[32] 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 falls on 14 January on the Western calendar.) The freshly harvested paddy and 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 yams.

Millions of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar (the point where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal).[33] Ganga Sagar falls in West Bengal.

In the day of Makar Sankranti Hindu God Dharma is worshiped. And khichurhi 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. Poush Mela is an annual fair and festival that takes place in Santiniketan, in Birbhum District of West Bengal.

In historical event[edit]

The Marathi term "Sankrant Kosalali" (सक्रांत कोसळली), meaning "Sankranti has befallen us", or "disaster befallen" is said to have originated from the events of the Third Battle of Panipat took place on 14 January 1761, at Panipat , about 60 miles (97 km) north of Delhi between a northern expeditionary force of the Maratha Empire and the forces of the King of Afghanistan, Ahmedshah Abdali , supported by two Indian Muslim allies—the Rohilla Afghans of the Doab , and Shuja-ud-Daula , the Nawab of Awadh where one generation of Maratha army killed.

Outside India[edit]

Nepal[edit]

Main article: Maghe Sankranti

Maghe Sankranti (Nepali and Maithili: माघे सङ्क्रान्ति, Nepal Bhasa: घ्यःचाकु संल्हु) is a Nepalese festival observed on the first of Magh in the Bikram Samwat Hindu Solar 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. On this occasion prayers are offered at the confluence of rivers and people take a dip in rivers.[34] These include Sankhamul on the Bagmati river near Patan; in the Gandaki/Narayani river basin at Triveni near the Indian border; Devghat near Chitwan Valley and Ridi on the Kaligandaki; and in the Koshi River basin at Dolalghat on the Sun Koshi. On Maghe Sankranti Cha puja and on Bhadra Purnima Nara puja is performed for people to pray for the community's protection against the external forces of evil.[35] Festive foods like laddoo, ghee and sweet potatoes are distributed to relatives and friends. The mother of each household wishes good health to all family members.

As per Kirat[36] and Madhesi community this festival is celebrated as a start of a new year which is called Yele Dhung. Based on the rical[clarification needed] evidence, the Kirat and Mithilacalendar was started when King Yalamber and Janaka respectively and they conquered Kathmandu valley. 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. According to Mahabharata, Bhishma, who had the power to control his own death, chose to die on the day of Maghe Sakranti. Therefore, it is believed that one who dies on this day might achieve Moksha, a release from rebirth cycle.

Bangladesh[edit]

Main article: Shakrain

Shakrain is an annual celebration of winter in Bangladesh, observed with the flying of kites.

Pakistan (Sindh)[edit]

On this festive day, Sindhi parents send ladoos and chiki (Laaee) made of sesame seeds to their married daughters. The Sindhi community in India too celebrate Makar Sankranti as Tirmoori which involves parents sending sweet dishes to their daughters.[37]

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. ^ "Makara Sankranti", Puja Jagat, 4 January 2016, retrieved 4 January 2016 
  3. ^ http://www.drikpanchang.com/sankranti/makar-sankranti-date-time.html
  4. ^ "2016 Makar Sankranti Time". www.drikpanchang.com. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Hindustan Times (14.01.2017) After a 100 years, Makar Sankranti gets a new date. Accessed 15.01.2017.[1]
  6. ^ TNN (14 January 2004). "Confusion over date of Makar Sankranti". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Chaturvedi, B.K. (2004) Bhavishya Purana. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd [2]
  8. ^ Dr Dwivedi, Bhojraj (2016) Scientific Bases of Hindu Beliefs. Diamond Pocket Books Pvt Ltd,[3]
  9. ^ a b c Tumuluru, Kamal Kumar (2015) Hindu Prayers, Gods and Festivals. Partridge Publishing [4]
  10. ^ Sun - in Hindu Mythology by Anindita Basu
  11. ^ Jha, Makhan (1996) The Himalayas: An Anthropological Perspective. MD Publications PVT Ltd.
  12. ^ Orissa Review, Volume 47 1990
  13. ^ Rajat Gupta, Nishant Singh, Ishita Kirar & Mahesh Kumar Bairwa (2015) Hospitality & Tourism Management. Vikas Publishing House [5]
  14. ^ "Celebrating Nature's Bounty - Magh Bihu". EF News International. Retrieved Jan 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ Sharma, S. P.; Seema Gupta (2006). Fairs & Festivals Of India. Pustak Mahal. p. 25. ISBN 978-81-223-0951-5. 
  16. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica. 21. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1987. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-85229-571-7. 
  17. ^ "Bihu being celebrated with joy across Assam". The Hindu. January 14, 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  18. ^ "Bonfire, feast & lots more - Jorhat celebrations promise traditional joy this Magh Bihu". The Telegraph. January 12, 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  19. ^ |url= http://www.markinkalpataru.org/MK/assamese_date/assamese_cal.php |
  20. ^ Desai, Anjali H. (2007) India Guide Gujarat. India Guide Publications
  21. ^ Vyas, Rajnee (2006) Welcome to Gujarat.Akshara Prakashan
  22. ^ Goyal , Ashutosh (2014) RBS Visitors Guide INDIA - Odisha: Odisha Travel Guide. Data and Expo India Pvt Ltd [6]
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ Nath, Samir (2002( Dictionary of Vedanta. Sarup & Sons
  25. ^ Srinivasan Kalyanaraman (2003) Sarasvati: Bharati. Saraswati Sindhu Research Centre [7]
  26. ^ Krishnan, Rukmini (10 January 2014). "Makar Sankranti Celebrations". DNA (Diligent Media Corporation). Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. 
  27. ^ "Makar Sankranti Food". Ifood TV. Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. 
  28. ^ a b Press Trust of India (PTI) (14 January 2014). "Makar Sankranti celebrations: Sky lanterns dot the sky". The Times of India. 
  29. ^ Eastern World, Volumes 4-5 1950
  30. ^ Bhalla, Kartar Singh (2005) Let's Know Festivals of India. Star Publications [8]
  31. ^ a b "Traditional fervour marks Makar Sankranti". The Times of India. 15 January 2012. 
  32. ^ West Bengal District Gazetteers: Calcutta and Howrah 1972
  33. ^ "Devotees throng Gangasagar on Makara Sankranti". Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  34. ^ Gulia, Kuldip Singh (2004) Human ecology of Sikkim
  35. ^ Encyclopaedic Ethnography of the Himalayan Tribes: R-Z, Volume 4 Narendra S. Bisht, T. S. Bankoti (2004) [9]
  36. ^ Subba, Desh (2015) The Tribesman's Journey to FEARLESS: A Novel Based on Fearism. Xlibris Corporation [10]
  37. ^ Reejhsinghani, Aroona(2004) Essential Sindhi Cookbook. Penguin Books India [11]

External links[edit]