Makar Sankranti 2021: Here's why kite flying is a major part of the festival
Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in India and is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya. It is the first major festival to be celebrated in India and usually takes place in January, this year the festival will be celebrated on January 14. Makar Sankranti marks the sun's transit into Makara (Capricorn) raashi (zodiac sign), with the sun moving northward this period is also known as Uttarayan and is considered to be auspicious. The harvest festival is both a religious as well as seasonal observance. While the festival is celebrated across India, different states celebrate the festival under different names, with their own unique traditions and festivities. The harvest festival is called Maghi and is preceded by Lohri in north India by Hindus and Sikhs. Makara Sankranti and Poush sôngkrānti in Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Telangana, Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu in Assam, and Thai Pongal or Pongal by Tamils.
Usually, devotees take holy dips in rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery as it is believed this washes away their sins. People meet their loved ones and distribute sesame and jaggery ladoos or chikkis, popularly referred to as til-gud. This symbolises that people must stay united despite their differences. Kite flying is also a major part of Makar Sankrani, although the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan indulge in this with a lot more enthusiasm. In Gujarat, people make kites in their homes months before Makar Sankranti, and the day is celebrated as the International Kite Festival in Ahmedabad and was started in 1989.
According to some beliefs, the tradition of kite flying was started so that people would be exposed to the sun which would rid them of the illness caused by winter. The sun's rays, especially during early morning or late afternoon hours is a good source of Vitamin D. It is also believed that people decorated the skies with colourful kites in order to thank the gods.
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