FESTIVALS OF INDIA MAKAR SANKRANTI. HISTORY According to the Hindi calendar Makar Sankranti is a...
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FESTIVALS OF INDIA
According to the Hindi calendar Makar Sankranti
is a festival celebrated for the happiness of getting
new crops for farmers.
Makar Sankranti has an astrological significance, as the sun
enters the Capricorn (Sanskrit: Makara) zodiac constellation
on that day. This date remains almost constant with respect to
the Gregorian calendar. However, precession of the Earth's
axis (called ayanamsa) causes Makara Sankranti to move over
the ages. A thousand years ago, Makara Sankranti was on 31
December and is now on 14 January. According to calculations,
from 2014 Makar Sankranti will fall on 15 January.
Makara Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various
parts of India. Makara Sankranti commemorates the beginning of
the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South
India. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign into another is
called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac
known as Makara in Sanskrit, this occasion is named as Makara
Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian
festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every
year (or may be sometimes on 15 January (leap year)
Makara Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is also regarded
as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said
as the 'holy phase of transition'. It marks the end of an inauspicious
phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-
December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can
be sanctified in any Hindu family, this day onwards. Scientifically,
this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared
to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of
winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.
Many Indians conflate this festival with the Winter Solstice, and believe that the sun ends its
southward journey (Sanskrit: Dakshinayana) at the Tropic of Capricorn, and starts moving
northward (Sanskrit: Uttarayaana) towards the Tropic of Cancer, in the month of Pausha on this
day in mid-January.
There is no observance of Winter Solstice in the Hindu religion. Further, the Sun makes its
northward journey on the day after winter solstice when day light increases. Therefore, Makara
Sankranti signifies the celebration of the day following the day of winter solstice.
Scientifically, currently in the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice occurs between December
21 and 22. Day light will begin to increase on 22 December and on this day, the Sun will begin
its northward journey which marks Uttarayaana. The date of winter solstice changes gradually
due to the Axial precession of the Earth, coming earlier by approximately 1 day in every 70
years. Hence, if the Makara Sankranti at some point of time did mark the actual date of winter
solstice, a date in mid-January would correspond to around 300CE.
This is the one of the very important rituals in India to be performed on Makar Sankranti.
Women will offer the Shreemangalchandika prapatti on the day of Sankranti (the 14th or the
15th of January). It holds a significance because on this day, Mata Mahishasurmardini with
the purpose of destroying Mahishasur, first set foot on earth, in the Kataraaj ashram of Rishi
Kardam and Devahuti. Women will offer the ShreeMangalChandika Prapatti
‘Shreemangalchandika naimittik prapatti’ after sunset on the day of Sankranti. This again
because it was after sunset that the Mahishasurmardini set foot in the Kataraaj ashram. If She
were to come during the day, no man would have been able to bear her radiance and so She
came after sunset, when it was dark.
Offering the prapatti on the day of Sankranti makes out of every woman, the protective
soldier of her family on the one hand and the bodyguard of each of her family members on the
other. Irrespective of whether she is a mother, a sister or a wife, she definitely becomes the
protector of the family.
CELEBRATIONS IN KARNATAKA
This is the Suggi(ಸು�ಗ್ಗಿ�) or harvest festival for farmers of Karnataka. On this auspicious day, young females (kids and
teenagers) wear new clothes to visit near and dear ones with a Sankranti offering in a plate, and exchange the same
with other families. This ritual is called "Ellu Birodhu." Here the plate would normally contain "Ellu" (white sesame
seeds) mixed with fried groundnuts, neatly cut dry coconut and fine cut bella (jaggery). The mixture is called "Ellu-
Bella" ( ಎಳ್ಳು� ಬೆಲ್ಲ). The plate also contains sugar candy moulds of various shapes (Sakkare Acchu, ಸುಕ್ಕ�ರೆ ಅಚ್ಚು��) with a piece
of sugarcane. There is a saying in Kannada "ellu bella thindu olle maathadi" which translates to 'eat the mixture of
sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good.' This festival signifies the harvest of the season, since sugarcane is
predominant in these parts.
In some parts of Karnataka, a newly married woman is required to give away bananas for a period of five years to
married women (muthaidhe) from the first year of her marriage, but increase the number of bananas in multiples of
five. There is also a tradition of some households giving away red berries "Yalchi Kai" along with the above. In North
Karnataka, kite flying with community members is also a tradition. Drawing rangoli in groups is another popular
event among women during Sankranti
An important ritual is display of cows and cattle in colourful costumes in an open field. Cows are decorated for the
occasion and taken on a procession. They are also made to cross a pyre. This ritual is common in rural Karnataka
and is called "Kichchu Haayisuvudu.”
CELEBRATIONS IN ASSAM
Magh Bihu In Assam, the festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu. Magh
Bihu (also called Bhogali Bihu (Bihu of enjoyment) or Maghar Domahi) is
a harvest festival celebrated in Assam, India, which marks the end of
harvesting season in the month of Maagha (January–February). It is the
Assam celebration of Sankranthi, with feasting lasting for a week. The
festival is marked by feasts and bonfires. Young people erect makeshift
huts, known as meji, from bamboo, leaves and thatch, in which they eat
the food prepared for the feast, and then burn the huts the next morning.
The celebrations also feature traditional Assamese games such as tekeli
bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting.
CELEBRATIONS IN BIHAR
On 14 January, it is celebrated as Makar Sankranti or Sakraat or KHICHDI (in local dialects). As in other parts of country,
people take baths in rivers and ponds and feast upon seasonal delicacies as a celebration of a good harvest. The delicacies
include chura, gur (jaggery), various sweets made of til (sesame seeds) such as tilgul, tilwa, maska, etc., curd, milk and
seasonal vegetables. Kite flying festivals are also organised, albeit on a small scale.
On 15 January, it is celebrated as Makraat (in some parts of the state) when people relish special khichdi (dal-rice replete
with cauliflower, peas and potatoes).
This festival is considered to be one of the most important festivals. People start their day by worshiping and putting til
(sesame seeds) into fire followed by eating "Dahi-chuda" (remember dahi-chuda is different from chuda-dahi, as in former
dahi, i.e. curd predominates over chuda, i.e. beaten rice or avalakki in Kannada in amount) along with Tilkut and Lai.
Generally in the morning people eat chuda-dahi (dahi-chuda is favourite of Maithil Brahmins) with kohada (red pumpkin) ka
bhujiya which is made specially with sugar and salt combination without adding water in it, with lots of LAI, i.e. laddus made
of til, chuda, chawal(rice). Women used to prepare these things in groups. After a such heavy meal it becomes next to
impossible to eat lunch in the afternoon, so people spend the time in greeting others and playing with kites. At night a
special KHICHDI is made. "khichdi ke 4 yaar, chokha, papad, ghee, achaar" (Hindi: "khichdi has four friends: chokha [a
roasted vegetable dish], papad [lentil wafer], clarified butter, pickle") some prefer to add many more side dishes with khichdi
like chatni, tilauri, etc. Since such a rich khichdi is generally only made once a year, the festival is also referred to as
CELEBRATIONS IN DELHI
Yadav's,Jats and other rural communities of Delhi and Haryana, and
many neighbouring states consider Sakraat or Sankranti to be one of the
main festivals of the year. Churma of desi ghee,Halwa and Kheer are
cooked specially in Jat's and yadav's homes on this day.one brother of
every married woman visits her home with a gift in the form of some
warm clothing for her and her husband's family.Its called "Sidha".Women
used to give some gift to their in-laws and this rituals called "Manana".
The person(who is going to get gift) will sit in a Haweli (main palace
where men sit together and share Hookka). Women go to Haweli to sing
folk songs and give gifts to that person.
In Maharashtra on the Makara Sankranti (मकर सं�क्रा�न्ति�) day people exchange multicolouredHalwa
(sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and Til-Gul Laadoo (sweetmeats made from sesame seeds
and jaggery). Gulachi Poli [flat bread stuffed with soft/shredded jaggery mixed with toasted, ground
til (white sesame seeds)] and some gram flour, which has been toasted to golden in plenty of pure
ghee, are offered for lunch. While exchanging til-gul as tokens of goodwill people greet each other
with the words "ति�ळगु�ळ घ्या�, आणि� गु�ड-गु�ड बो�ला� / til-gul ghyaa, aani goad-goad bolaa" meaning ‘Accept this
til-gul and utter sweet words’. The underlying thought in the exchange of til-gul is to forget the past
ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends.
This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-
together called ‘Haldi-Kunku’ (literally meaning turmeric -vermillion) and given gifts such as
utensils, clothes etc. Typically, women wear black sarees or black coloured outfits on this occasion.
The significance of wearing black is that Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and black
colour retains and absorbs heat, helping keep warm Maharastra is also famous for kite flying on this
Makara Sankranti is one of the most auspicious days for the Hindus and is celebrated in almost all parts of India in
myriad cultural forms, with great devotion. Millions of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar (the point
where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal) and Prayag and pray to the Sun God (Surya). It is celebrated with
pomp in southern parts of India as Sankranti (Pongal in Tamil Nadu), and in Punjab as Maghi.
In the western Indian state of Gujarat, the celebrations are even bigger. People offer thousands of their colourful
oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites. The act stands as a metaphor for reaching to their beloved God,
the one who represents the best. In the rural and coastal areas, cock fights are held and is a prominent event of the
festival. Makara Sankranti is also to honour, worship and to pay respect to Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge). At
the start of this significant event, there is also worship for the departed ancestors.
Makara Sankranti identifies a period of enlightenment, peace, prosperity and happiness followed by a period of
darkness, ignorance and viciousness with immense sorrow. The six months of northern movement of the sun is
followed by six months of southern movement.
Since the festival is celebrated in mid winter, food prepared for this festival is such that it keeps the body warm
and gives high energy. Laddu of til made with jaggery is a speciality of the festival. In the western Indian state of
Maharashtra it is called 'Tilgud'. In Karnataka it is called 'Yellu-Bella'. In some states cattle are decorated with
various colours and are made to jump over a bonfire.
In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Maghi. Bathing in any river in the
early hours on Maghi is important. Hindus light lamps with sesame oil as this is
supposed to give prosperity and drive away all sins. The Punjabis dance their
famous dance known as "bhangra". Then they sit down and eat the sumptuous
food that is specially prepared for the occasion. It is traditional to eat "kheer",
rice cooked in milk and sugarcane juice. It is also traditional to consume
Khichdi and jaggery.
December and January are the coldest months of the year in the Punjab.
Maghi represents the change of the season to warmer temperatures and
increase in daylight. Huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Maghi and the day is
celebrated as Lohri.
"Makar Sankrati" or "Sankrat" in the Rajasthani language is one of the major festivals in the state of
Rajasthan. The day is celebrated with some special Rajasthani delicacies and sweets such as pheeni
(either with sweet milk or sugar syrup dipped), til-paati, gajak, kheer, ghevar, pakodi, puwa, and til-
Specially, the ladies of this region observe a kind of ritual in which they give any type of object
(related to household, make-up or food) to 13 married women. The first Sankranti experienced by a
married woman is of significance as she is invited by her parents and brothers to their houses with
her husband for a big feast. People invite friends and relatives (specially their sisters and daughters)
to their home for special festival meals (called as "Sankrant Bhoj"). Also people give out many kind
of small gifts such as til-gud (jaggery), fruits, dry khichadi, etc. to Brahmins or the needy ones.
Kite flying is traditionally observed as a part of this festival. On this occasion the sky in Jaipur and
Hadoti regions is filled with kites, and youngsters engage in kite contests trying to cut each other's
TAMIL NADU - PONGAL
The festival is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the
Tamil month Thai.
The first day of festival is Bhogi(போ��கி�). It is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and
materials, by setting them on fire, marking the end of the old and the emergence of the new. Also in a villages
there will be a simple ceremony of "Kappu Kattu" (kappu means secure) will be done. The 'neem' leaves are
kept along the walls and roof of the houses. This is to eliminate the evil forces.
The second day of festival is Thai Pongal or simply Pongal. It is the main day of the festival, falling on the first
day of the Tamil month Thai. It is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots, which are
later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the
vessel. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the
tradition is to shout of " பொ��ங்கிபோ�� பொ��ங்கில்(Ponggalo Ponggal)!" and blowing the sangu (a conch), a custom
practised during the festival to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings. Then New boiled
rice is offered to the Nature during sunrise, a gesture which symbolises thanks to the sun and nature for
providing prosperity. It is later served to the people present in the house for the ceremony. People also prepare
savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam and visit each other and exchange greetings.
TAMIL NADU - PONGAL
The third day of festival is Maattu Pongal( மா�ட்டுப் பொ��ங்கில்). It is for offering thanks
to cattle, as they help farmer in different ways for agriculture. On this day the cattle
are decorated with paint, flowers and bells. They are allowed to roam free and fed
sweet rice and sugar cane. Some people decorate the horns with gold or other metallic
covers. In some places, Jallikattu, or taming the wild bull contest, is the main event of
this day and this is mostly seen in the villages.
The fourth day of the festival is Kaanum Pongal( கி�ணும்பொ��ங்கில் - the word
kaanum means "to view"). During this day people visit their relatives, friends to enjoy
the festive season. This day is a day to thank relatives and friends for their support in
the harvest. It started as a farmers festival, called as Uzhavar Thirunaal in Tamil.
Kolam (போகி��ம்) decorations are made in front of the house during Thai Pongal
Uttarayan, as Makara Sankranti is called in Gujarati, is a major festival in the state of Gujarat which lasts for
14 January is Uttarayan
15 January is Vasi-Uttarayan(Stale Uttarayan)
Gujarati people keenly await this festival to fly kites, called 'patang' in Gujarati. Kites for Uttarayan are
made of special light-weight paper and bamboo and are mostly rhombus shaped with central spine and a
single bow. The string often contains abrasives in order to cut down other people's kites.
In Gujarat, from December through to Makara Sankranti, people start enjoying Uttarayan. Undhiyu (spicy,
baked mix of winter vegetables) and chikkis (made from til (sesame seeds), peanuts and jaggery) are the
special festival recipes savoured on this day.
In the major cities of Vadodara, Surat,Rajkot, Ahmedabad, and Bhavnagar the skies appear filled with
thousands upon thousands of kites as people enjoy two full days of Uttarayan up on their terraces.
When people cut any kites they used to yell with words like "kaypo chhe", "e lapet","phirki vet phirki" and
"lapet lapet" in Gujarati language.
Maghe Sankranti (Nepali:म�घे� संङ्� क्रा�न्ति� Nepal Bhasa:घ्या�चा�क� सं�ल्हु) is a Nepalese festival observed on the first of Magh in
the Bikram Samwat Nepali calendar (about 14 January) bringing an end to the ill-omened month of Poush when all
religious ceremonies are forbidden. On this day, the sun is believed to leave its southernmost position and begin its
northward journey. Maghe Sankranti is similar to solstice festivals in other religious traditions.
Observant Hindus take ritual baths during this festival, notably at auspicious river locations. These include
Sankhamul on the Bagmati near Patan; In the Gandaki/Narayani river basin at Triveni near the Indian border,
Devghat near Chitwan Valley and Ridi on the Kaligandaki; and in the Koshi River basin at Dolalghat on the Sun
Koshi. Festive foods like laddoo, ghee and sweet potatoes are distributed to all relatives and friends. The mother of
each household wishes good health to all family members.
The legend states that a successful businessman was curious as to why his supply of sesame seed seemed to be
never ending. When he inspected the bag he found an idol of Lord Vishnu, the preserver.
According to Mahabharata, king Bhisma, who had the power to control his own death, happened to choose to die on
the day of Maghe Sakranti. Therefore it is believed that one to die on this day might achieve Moksha, a release from
As per Kirat community this festival is celebrated as a start of a new year which is called Yele Dhung. Based on
the rical evidence Kirat calendar was started when King Yalamber conquered Kathmandu valley.
Tr. Jagdish Menda
Area 6 Twinkler Convenor.
Information taken from Wikipedia