Makar Sankranti is celebrated differently at different places and has a variety of rituals associated.
Maharashtra takes the limelight when it comes to the celebration of Makar Sankranti. People here come together to exchange sweets especially laddus made of Til (Sesame seeds) and Jaggery. Women who are married get together to exchange utensils and put Haldi Kumkum on their forehead. Hindus wear ornaments made of ‘Halwa’ on this day.
In Orissa, families get together to prepare some authentic delicacies on the eve of Makar Sankranti. They prepare a special dish called ‘Ghantaa’ which is a curry made of different cereals and vegetables. They also prepare some sweet dishes. Many of Orissa celebrate the day of Sankranti by lighting bonfires, dancing and eating their particular dishes sitting together. The Bhaya tribals of Orissa have their Magh yatra in which small home-made articles are put for sale.
In Uttar Pradesh, Sankranti is called
‘Khichiri’. Taking a dip in the holy rivers on this day is regarded as most auspicious. A big one-month long ‘Magha-Mela’ fair begins at Prayag in
Allahabad on this occasion. Apart from Triveni, ritual bathing also takes place
at many places like Haridwar and Garh Mukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh, and Patna in
The famous Ganga Sagar river witnesses a huge Mela every year during Makar Sankranti. This is the place where river Ganga is believed to have divided into the nether region and vivified the ashes of the sixty thousand ancestors of King Bhagirath. This meal is attended by a large number of pilgrims from all over the country.
Pongal is the festival which is very similar to Makar Sankranti and is one of the major festivities of South India. Rice and pulses cooked together in ghee and milk are offered to the family deity after the ritual worship. In this, they worship the Sun God.
The people of Andhra celebrate it for three long days and call it ‘Pedda Panduga’ meaning big festival. The whole event lasts for four days, the first-day Bhogi, the second day Sankranti, the third day Kanuma and the fourth day, Mukkanuma.
For the Gujurati’s, the festival is more
about socializing and show your love for your relatives. They exchange gifts,
arrange dinners and perform Puja together. The Gujarati Pundits on this
auspicious day grant scholarships to students for higher studies in astrology
and philosophy. This festival thus helps the maintenance of social
relationships within the family, caste, and community.
Punjab celebrated this occasion as Lohri.
This period being the coldest of the year they lit huge bonfires and participate
in entertaining activities. 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. The Punjabi dance their
famous Bhangra dance and eat sumptuous dinner together.
In Assam, the festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu. This is known as Bihu of eating food and getting involved in enjoyment. This is again the end of the harvest season and hence solves the same purpose as Makar Sankranti.
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