Makar Sankranti 2020: Here’s how Indians celebrate the festival
Happy Makar Sankranti 2020: Praying to the sun and the use of black sesame (til) and jaggery are integral parts of Makar Sankranti.
An ancient festival that is observed according to solar cycles, Makar Sankranti is one of the biggest celebrations in India. Dedicated to the sun god Surya, the festival sees devotees take a holy dip in rivers, which is believed to absolve them of past sins.
Praying to the sun and the use of black sesame (til) and jaggery are also integral parts of the festival. A number of fairs take place in different places across India to celebrate Makar Sankranti, the most famous being the Kumbha Mela, held every 12 years at either Haridwar, Prayag (Prayagraj), Ujjain or Nashik.
The Magha Mela at Prayag, the Gangasagar Mela in Bengal, the Makar Mela in Odisha, the Tusu Mela of Jharkhand and West Bengal and the Poush Mela of Shantiniketan, West Bengal are a few celebratory fairs held during Makar Sankranti.
Mostly celebrated on January 14, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with different names in different states across the length and breadth of the country.
Tamil Nadu: Celebrated as Pongal, it is a four-day festival which is divided into Bhogi Pandigal, Thai Pongal, Maattu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal.
Rajasthan: Known as Sakraat or Makar Sankranti, the day is celebrated with special Rajasthani delicacies and sweets such as pheeni, til-paati, gajak, kheer, ghevar, pakodi, puwa, and til-laddoo. The women of the region are supposed to gift a household object to 13 married women. People engage in kite flying as well.
Uttar Pradesh: Known as Kicheri, it involves a ritual bathing, which sees millions of people gather in places like Allahabad and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar in Uttarakhand. Eating of sweets such as til laddoo and gur laddoo as well as wearing new clothes is an integral part of the festival. Kite flying is an inevitable part here as well.
Gujarat: Uttarayan lasts for two days in India and people usually celebrate by flying kites. Undhiyu, a spicy baked mix of winter vegetables and chikkis made from sesame seeds, peanuts and jaggery are festival dishes of the region. Uttarayan also sees the organisation of the International Kite Festival.
Assam: Called Magh Bihu and Bhogali Bihu, it is marked by feasts and bonfires. The creation of makeshift huts known as Meji and Bhelaghar is an important part of the festival. People prepare the food for the feast in these temporary dwellings before burning the structures the next day. Games such as tekeli bhonga and buffalo fighting are associated with the festival. During Magh Bihu, shunga pitha, til pitha and other sweets called lashkara are made.
West Bengal: Known as Sankranti and Poush Sankranti, the festival sees the use of date palm syrup or khejur gur in a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made from rice flour, coconut, and milk. It is known as pitha and the Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. In Darjeeling, it is called Magey Sakrati and is associated with the worship of Lord Shiva.
Maharashtra: Celebrated for three days, where sweet dishes like halwa, puran poli and til-gur laddoos are made. The festival sees women sporting black clothes, which is otherwise barred on festival days.
Karnataka: In the Suggi festival, girls wear new clothes and engage in a ritual called Ellu Birodhu. The festival also sees the display of cows and bulls in colourful costumes in open fields.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana: The festival is celebrated for four days -- Bhogi, Makara Sankranti, Kanuma and Mukkanuma. On the day of Makara Sankranti, people sport new clothes and make offerings of traditional food to ancestors. They also make beautiful and ornate drawings and patterns on the ground with chalk or flour, called muggu.
Kanuma sees farmers’ showcasing their cattle as a symbol of prosperity while Mukkunama sees farmers offering prayers to the elements.
Bihar and Jharkhand: Celebrated on 14-15 January, it is called Sakraat or Khichdi as well. Delicacies that are made during this festival include chura, jaggery, sesame seeds, tilwa ect. People start their day by worshipping and putting sesame seeds into fire, followed by dahi chura, which is served with curd and red pumpkin.
Goa: Known as Sankrant, people distribute sweets made of til and married women celebrate the 12-day Haldi Kumkum festival that begins on Makar Sankranti. The festival sees women apply turmeric and vermillion to the foreheads of other women and offer them gifts.
Himachal Pradesh: In Shimla, it is celebrated as Magha Saaji.
Odisha: People make makara chaula, which is a mixture of uncooked newly harvested rice, banana, coconut, jaggery, sesame, rasagola, khai/liaa and chhena puddings to offer to the gods and goddesses.
Punjab: Celebrated as Maghi, it sees ritualistic bathing in a river in the early hours and the lighting of lamps. A major fair is held at Sri Muktsar Sahib celebrating the festival as well.
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