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India celebrates Makar Sankranti, Pongal; thousands take dip in holy waters

From Makar Sankranti, Bhogali Bihu, Pongal to Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi, a string of festival celebrated at the end of the harvest season are keeping people from all walks of life busy today. Huge gatherings were reported across north India, with people assembling for a dip in rivers to mark the day.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2014 18:44 IST

Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Bhogali Bihu are being celebrated by people from all walks of life on Tuesday.

The festival of Makar Sankranti traditionally coincides with the beginning of the Sun's northward journey, also known as the Uttarayan, when it enters the sign of Makar or Capricorn.

This day has a very special significance for Hindus because festive period starts from this day.

In Uttar Pradesh, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Kicheri. The first important bathing festival of the about one-and-a-half-month long Magh Mela is being held today on the banks of Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati at Allahabad on the occasion.

Large numbers of pilgrims have started taking the holy dip at the Triveni Sangam since early Tuesday morning.

It will be celebrated for two days and bathing will continue tomorrow also.

About 40 lakhs pilgrims are expected at the Magh Mela on the first bathing festival today.

In Tamil Nadu, Pongal, the harvest festival, is being celebrated.

One of the most popular festivals in Tamil culture, it signals the end of winter and the onset of spring. The festival which begins on the first day of the month of Thai is celebrated for three more days.

As the festival is associated with agriculture completely, the rural areas are lit up more than the urban cities.

On the occasion of the festival, women dressed in traditional sarees make the Pongal dish with rice, sugar and jhaggery and lots of ghee (rarified butter).

As the earthen pot boiled over facing the Sun God, chants of Pongalo Pongal rent the air.

People from urban areas go back to their roots in villages and celebrate pongal with their relatives.

Women made colourful kolams in front of the house. House entrances are decorated with kura flowes, turmeric and sugarcane.

In Assam, the post-harvest festival of Bhogali Bihu is being observed.

Several cultural programmes and traditional sports are being organised to mark the festival. People, irrespective of caste and creed, take part in community feasts on the occasion of Uruka's last night.

Bhogali Bihu marks the burning of traditional Meji and Bhelaghar made of thatch and fire wood amidst chanting of prayers to the God of Fire Agni.

Delicious traditional delicacies are also prepared as part of the occasion.

Allahabad, also known as Prayag, and a major pilgrimage centre in Uttar Pradesh, is celebrating the festival in a big way.

Photos below:

An elderly Hindu devotee reacts to camera after a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganges and Yamuna on Makar Sankranti festival which also marks the beginning of Magh Mela, in Allahabad. (AP)

Hindu devotees arrive at the Sangam. Hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus are expected to take holy dips at the confluence during the astronomically auspicious period of over 45 days celebrated as Magh Mela. (AP)

Devotees gather at the Sangam as Magh Mela begins. (AP)

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