Monday, 24 February 2014

Makar Sankranti

This is the festival celebrated in the month of January. Known as the harvest festival, it is also called Pongal in the south of India.

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.

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.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.

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.

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