Monday, 24 February 2014

Makar Sankranti

This is the festival celebrated in the month of January. Known as the harvest festival, this is the time when the farmers are ready to harvest their farms.

This day marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the suns movement northward for a 6 month period. It is also called Makar Sankranti as the sun enters the zodiac sign Makar (Capricon). It is usually on the 14th or 15th January every year.

This festival is known by different names in different parts of the country. In Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh it is called Makar Sankranti. In Gujarat and Rajasthan it is celebrated as Uttarayan. In Himachal Pradesh and Haryana it is Maghi, Lohri in Punjab, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bhogali Bihu in Assam, Shishur Sankraat In Kashmir and Khichdi in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

On this festival houses are cleaned. All old clothes and things are thrown away. Entrances are decorated with beautiful Rangolis. A new vessel is bought to make sweets. Till seeds and jaggery sweets are distributed. In the south a special dish called 'Sarkkarai Pongal' is prepared. In villages people rejoice this festival with new sugarcane, sweet potatoes, groundnut and other harvest. Prayers are offered to cattle as they help plough the fields.

Sankranti is a festival of 4 days. In the South, the first day of Sankranti is called Bhogi. This day all old wood and things are burned in bonfires considering all the evil from the house is driven off.
2nd day is called Surya Pongal. On this day Sun God is worshipped.
3rd day is called Maattu Pongal on which cattle is worshipped. Cows and bullocks are washed, decorated and worshipped, for their role in ensuring a good harvest.
4th day is called Kaanum Pongal. This day people visit each other and distribute sweets. Sugarcane is offered to deity as well as exchanged with each other to symbolize sweetness and joy in life. Folk dances and songs are performed.

It is the festival of kites in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. In Uttarakhand, they make necklaces of jaggery based sweets and wear them to welcome the birds. Til or sesame seeds are one of the most important ingredients in most state preparations. Though the rituals of all states differ slightly, the spirit of the festival shows in the preparations of sweets, flying kites and thanking mother earth for all the food she has given us.

The festival is celebrated to understand and respect our real wealth which is land and food. People thank God for a bountiful harvest.We should also respect the living beings which help grow our food.

Take a Quiz on Makar Sankranti

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