Makar Sankranti is the festival of sun and harvest; which is celebrated different names in different states of India. One of the holiest day in Hindu Lunar calendar falls on 14th or 15th January every year. The transition of Sun into zodiac sign Capricorn(Makar) from this day; so this auspicious day named as Makar Sankranti. According to Hindu lunar calender; day and night are equally long in Makar Sankranti (exactly 12 hours). On this day; the day becomes longer and nights shorter.
It basically describes the start of the journey of Sun towards the North i.e. Uttarayan. On thisspecial occasion people attend holy fairs like the ‘Kumbh Mela’ in Prayag and the ‘Gangasagar Mela’ at the junction of River Ganges and the Bay of Bengal and take a dip in the holy waters to wash off their sins.
The rituals of makar sankranti differ from state to state and are also named differently according to regions. Let’s know in detail the regional celebrations and how to observe them.
This festival here is famously known as ‘Makar Sankranti’. Lord Shani who is the operator of Makar Rashi had some relationship issues with his father Lord Surya. This was the day when Lord Surya got over the relationship complications and came over to give a visit to his son Shani. It is also believed that ‘Lord Vishnu’ killed all the ‘Asuras’ on this day and buried their heads under the ‘Mandar Parvata’ or mountain. All Oriya communities celebrate ‘Makar Sankranti’ by offering fresh fruits to ‘Lord Surya’. ‘Uttarayana Jatra’ and ‘Uttarayan Vandapana’ of ‘Lord Jagannath’ are also celebrated at the ‘Puri Temple’.
Goa and Maharashtra
The Maharashtrian people celebrate this day with a lot of pomp and show. Makar Sankranti is celebrated for three consecutive days -‘Bhogi’, ‘Sankrant’ and ‘Kinkrant’ in honor of ‘Goddess Sankranti’ who killed ‘Sankrasur Rakhsasa’ on this day. People of this region fly kites which is the most major part of the celebration. Married women celebrate ‘Haldi-Kumkum’. Delicacies like ’til-gul laddoos’ made from jaggery and sesame seeds are distributed among the people.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
This region celebrates Makar Sankaranti for four consecutive days also popularly known as Pongal. People unite around born-fire which is known as ‘Bhoghi’ and distribute sweets with each other. New clothes are worn, prayers are offered to the Gods as well as the ancestors. Houses are decorated with colored powders and flowers. On the second day known as ‘Kanuma’ day, food is shared with the livestock, birds and fish. The third day is known as ‘Mukkanuma’. Farmers pay their homage to nature’s elements and offer gifts to gods and goddesses on this day. People participate in ox and bullock racing, cock fighting and kite flying.
Bihar and Jharkand
People of this region celebrate this festival for two consecutive days, on 14th and on 15th. On 14th January, people have ‘chura’, ‘gur’, milk, curd, vegetables and sweets made from sesame seeds. Some people also enjoy flying kites. On 15th January, people perform worship and enjoy a dish of ‘dahi-chura’ followed by ‘laddoos’ made from sesame seeds. A special ‘khichdi’ accompanied with ‘ghee’, ‘papad’, ‘chokha’ and ‘achaar’ is served to the people in the evening.
Delhi and Haryana
People here celebrate this in a different way. Men visit there sisters with gifts and sweets. Delicacies like halwa, kheer etc are prepared for the families and relatives. The women sing folk songs giving away gifts known as ‘Manana’ to their in-laws.
This day is known as ‘Suggi’ here. The girls of this region wear new clothes, exchange an exotic collection of delicacies and dry fruits. It contains a mixture of white sesame seeds, dried coconut, groundnuts and jaggery. Women also create beautiful designs with multi-colored powder on the ground. The cattle are decorated and taken out in processions called ‘Kichchu Haayisuvudu’.
Here people call it ‘Magha Saaji’. People get up early in the morning, have a bath at the springs and visit their neighbours. They gather at temples to pray and enjoy ‘khichdi’ with ‘chach’ and ‘ghee’. During the evening people participate in folk dance known as ‘Naati’ accompanied by singing.
Here people have named it as ‘Makaravilakku’. People visit a pilgrimage spot ‘Sabarimala’ and see the star of ‘Makara Jyoti’ and get the blessings of ‘Lord Ayyappan’.
People here take bath in holy rivers on this day. They also attend fairs, and distribute ‘khichdi’. Songa are sung early morning to welcome back the migratory birds during ‘Kale Kauva’ or ‘Ghunghutia’ celebrations.
People here call the day as ‘Maghi Sngrand’. Here the people have an early bath and light sesame oil lamps to drive away evil, wash away sins and bring prosperity. They famous ‘bhangra’ dance is performed and people enjoy having ‘khichdi’ jiggery and ‘kheer in the cold weather. The people light big bonfires in the evenings and sing and dance around it – somewhat similar to Lohri.
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh
Local delicacies like ‘pheerni’ ‘kheer’, ‘pakodi’, ‘laddoo’ and other such stuff are prepared on this day. The most attractive part is the that people fill the skies with kites and try to bring down the kites of others.
In this region people have named it as ‘Poush Sankranti’. Locals exchange sweets known as ‘pitha’ and worship ‘Godess Lakshmi’ on this day. People living in the hills of Darjeeling call this festival ‘Magey Sanrati’ and worship ‘Lord Shiva’. People from all parts of the country gather at the ‘Ganga Sagar Mela’ to take a dip and pray. It is believed that all the bad karmas get washed away by taking a bath in the holy river on this day.
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