Makara 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. Makara Sankranti is a solar event making one of the few Indian festivals which fall on the same date in the Gregorian Calender every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 13 or 15 January. It has an astrological significance, as the sun enters the Capricorn (Sanskrit: Makara) 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 Makara Sankranti to move over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makara Sankranti was on 31 December and is now on 14 January. According to calculations, from 2050 Makar Sankranti will fall on January 15.
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.
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.
Pongal or 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 regionalnames.
Pongal: TamilNadu, Makara Sankranti: Chhattisgarh, Goa, Odisha, Haryana, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh,Uttarakhand and West Bengal, Uttarayan: Gujarat, Maghi: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, Lohri: Punjab, Bhogali Bihu: Assam, Shishur Saenkraat: Kashmir Valley, Khichdi: Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar, Makara Sankramana: Karnataka
In other countries too the day is celebrated but under different names and in different ways.
Nepal: Maghe Sankranti, Tharu people: Maghi, Other people: Maghe Sankranti or Maghe Sakrati,Thailand: Songkran, Laos: Pi Ma Lao, Myanmar: Thingyan, Cambodia: Moha Sangkran, Sri Lanka: Uzhavar Thirunal.
Different ways of celebration of Sankranti in different states of India.
Kumaon (Uttarakhand) 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 or Kale Kauva. It is said that from this day, which signals a change of season, the migratory birds start returning to the hills. They call it Ghughutia or . 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 a song.
Maharashtra & Goa 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. 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. In Goa, the women folks who celebrate 'haldi-kumkum'.
Tamil Nadu First day Bhogi 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, "Kappu Kattu" (kappu means secure) is done where'neem' leaves are kept along the walls and roofs to eliminate the evil forces. The second day Thai Pongal or simplyPongal: It is the main day of the festival, falling on the first day of the Tamil month Thai. The moment the rice mixed with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots, which are later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins, boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of (Ponggalo Ponggal)!" and blowing the sangu (a conch). People also prepare savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam and visit each other and exchange greetings.The third day of festival Maattu Pongal: It is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmer in different ways for agriculture. 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 Kaanum Pongal (kaanum means "to view") is to thank relatives and friends for their support in the harvest. It started as a farmers festival, called as Uzhavar Thirunaal in Tamil.
Andhra Pradesh Day 1 – Bhogi: when people discard old and derelict things and concentrate on new things causing change or transformation. Day 2 – Makara Sankranti: When people 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, decorated with flowers, colours and small hand pressed piles of cow dung, called "gobbemma" and prepare Ariselu, Appalu (a sweet made of jaggery and rice flour) dappalam (a dish made with pumpkin and other vegetables). Day 3 – Kanuma: The animal kingdom is remembered and in particular, the cows. Young girls feed the animals, birds and fish as a symbol of sharing and gurus seek out their devotees to bestow blessings on them. Day 4 – Mukkanuma: Is popular among the non-vegetarians of the society as they do not eat non veg on first three days; they do it on this day. On this occasion, people fly kites and the sky.
Assam Magh Bihu (also called Bhogali Bihu or Maghar Domahi) marks the end of harvesting season in the month of Maagha (January–February). The celebration with feasting lasting for a week marked by feasts and bonfires. 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, from bamboo, leaves and thatch. The entire night is spent singing bihu songs, beating Dhol, a typical kind of drums or playing games( Instruments used in Bihu include:Dhol, Taal, Pepa, Toka, Baanhi, Xutuli, Gogona). Boys roam about in the dark stealing firewood and vegetables for fun. The next morning they take a bath and burn the main Meji. Different types of sports like tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking), Buffalo-fight, Egg-fight, Cock-fight, Nightingale-fight etc. are held. 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. In Himachal Pradesh Magha Saaja; Saaja is Pahari word for Sakranti, start of the new month. Hence this day marks the start of the month of Magha. 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).
Punjab 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 Punjabis dance their famous dance known as "bhangra". It is traditional to eat "kheer", rice cooked in milk and sugar. The parshada often includes popcorn. In Delhi and Haryana 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. Halwa is cooked on this day, and one brother of every married woman visits her home with a gift in the form of some warm clothing for her and her husband.
Gujarat Uttarayan 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. The string often contains abrasives in order to cut down other people's kites. 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. 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. his day is celebrated with some special Rajasthani delicacies and sweets like Pheeni (either with sweet milk or sugar syrup dipped),Til-paati, Gajak, kheer, Pakodis, Puwas, Til-ladoos etc. 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.
West Bengal The freshly harvested paddy along with the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur and Patali 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' .The Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped on the day of Sankranti; It is called BAHARLAXMI PUJA as the idol is worshiped in an open place. In the Himalayan regions of Darjeeling; It is distinctly associated with the worship of Lord Shiva. In Odisha people prepare makara chaula uncooked newly harvested rice, banana, coconut, jaggery, sesame, rasagola, Khai/Liaa and chhena puddings for naivedya to gods and goddesses. Devotees worship 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. Makara Mela at Dhabaleswar in Cuttack,Hatakeshwar at Atri in Khordha, Makara Muni temple in Balasore and near various deities in each district of Odisha observe this day in their ways. 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.
Karnataka "Ellu Birodhu" where people often exchange 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". The plate also contains sugar candy moulds of various shapes with a piece of sugarcane. 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. 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."
Bihar and Jharkhand On 14 January, it is celebrated as 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 (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 khichri (dal-rice replete with cauliflower, peas and potatoes). People worship and put til (sesame seeds) into fire followed by eating "Dahi-chuda" . kohada (red pumpkin) ka bhujiya is relished too 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. In Uttar Pradesh, it is a compulsion to bath at morning without eating any thing,first they bath then eat til and gud laddos which is calledTillava in Bhojpuri.
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 andNashik. 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 inOdisha. Tusu Mela also called as Tusu Porab is celebrated in many parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal.
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