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Makar Sankranti – Binding India with faith and devotion

The auspicious festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated across the country with lots of gaiety and splendour. Offering prayers and worship to the Sun God, Makar Sankranti inspires to have peace and unity.

Spiritual significance behind the festival

According to legends, on this special day of Makar Sankranti Lord Sun meets his son Sani for the first time who is the husband of the Makar Rasi. According to another religious story veteran Vishma wished to die during this auspicious time of Makar Sankranti. Another story says that on the day of Makar Sankranti Lord Krishna demolished terrorism of Ashura. Hence this period symbolizes the ending of evil power and the beginning of a peaceful new era. In different regions of India, this festival is known by different regional names and the festivities are performed with varied rituals amidst of fun and merriment.

Uttarayan in Gujarat

  • Uttarayan in Gujarat

Makar Sankranti is observed as Uttarayan or International Kite Festival in Gujarat. The sky changes colours as millions of kite enthusiasts pitch themselves from rooftops and open fields. Waves of kites’ overwhelm the otherwise deep blue sky. Many kites have social messages, awareness information marked on exclusive patterns and designs. Figurative and geometric designs on kites are also common.

Fun-loving rivalry to outdo each other in kite flying skills and delicious traditional Gujarati feast of Undhiyo and Jalebee are the hallmarks of the day.

International Kite Fest, 2017

This year the event is marked between 7th – 15th January 2017. The kite flying international event this year has been diversified by adding value to the event with laser and sound shows, kite making workshops and more. Amazing history, significance, and effects of kites flying will be available for visitors. Visitors can even enjoy amazing Gujarati food, handicrafts and buy crafts from bazaars.

Venue: Sabarmati River Front, Ashram Road, Ahmedabad.
(Time: 8 AM to 5 PM)

Lohri in Punjab

  • Lohri in Punjab

People in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and some of Himachal Pradesh, are busy in making preparations for their much-awaited bonfire festival, Lohri. This is the time when they can come out of their homes and celebrate the harvesting of the Rabi (winter) crops and give into relaxing and enjoying the traditional folk songs and dances.

In the morning on Lohri, children go from door to door singing and demanding the Lohri ‘loot’ in the form of money and eatables like til (sesame) seeds, peanuts, jaggery, or sweets like gajak,  rewri, etc. They sing in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi avatar of Robin Hood who robbed the rich to help the poor, and once helped a miserable village girl out of her misery by getting her married off to his own sister.

Bonfire Ritual
In the evening, with the setting of the sun, huge bonfires are lit in the harvested fields and in the front yards of houses and people gather around the rising flames, circle around (parikrama) the bonfire and throw puffed rice, popcorn, and other munchies into the fire.

Bhogali Bihu in Assam

  • Bhogali OR Magha Bihu in Assam

This harvest festival in Assam is a feasting festival. As the name ‘Bhogali’ suggests ‘feasting’, Bihu is a celebration of food after a good harvest and a variety of sweets are prepared from rice, coconut and til. After the burning of ‘Mejis’ (made of bamboo, hay, and dry leaves), people sit down to enjoy their fill of traditional Assamese food. Amidst the enchanting notes of flutes and buffalo horns, the youth sings the Bihu songs with lyrics of a good harvest.

Note: Bhogali Bihu falls on 15th January, this year.

Pongal in Tamil Nadu

  • Pongal in Tamil Nadu

Between 14th to 17th January is the festival of Pongal, as it is called in Tamil Nadu. There are different aspects of this festival, which falls in the month of Thai in Tamil calendar. There is Bhogi, during which houses are cleaned, decorated with mango leaves and the first cut of paddy to enhance the vibrancy in the house. All the unnecessary things in one’s home are disposed of.

Magha Mela in Uttar Pradesh

  • Khichdi Parv in Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand

Apart from taking a holy dip in river Ganga ( Magha Snan) and flying kites on the day of Makar Sankranti (14th January), the day is celebrated by relishing a delicacy of khichdi ( prepared from rice and dal) and is offered to the Sun god. After the pooja, it is distributed among the family members as Prasad. Magha Mela is also organized at Prayag (Allahabad) on this occasion at Triveni Sangam.

Note: Magha Mela will take place between January 12 – February 24, 2017. While you are in Allahabad, do not forget to take a local tour to Allahabad Museum, Anand Bhawan and must try the scrumptious street-side Dahi-Jalebis, Rajaram’s Rabri and Kulfi and Allahabad Churmura.

Ellu Bella in Karnataka

  • Ellu Bella in Karnataka

Makar Sankranti marks the celebrations of Ellu Bella festival in Karnataka(14th January). Bulls and cows are decorated and use of freshly cut sugar canes, sesame seeds, jaggery, and coconut are used to prepare regional delicacies on this day. But what makes this mix really special is that it is never made handful or spoonful. Ellu Bella is always made in quantities that is large enough to be shared with at least ten households.

The highlight of Sankranti has to be the ritual of Ellu Birodu. The ritual where, young girls and married women, dressed in all finery, visit near and dear ones with the customary offering. The potpourri consists of Ellu Bella, Fresh Sugarcane, Sugar candy moulds (sakkare acchu in Kannada), bananas, berries, flowers, and turmeric-vermilion.

Gangasagar Mela in West Bengal

  • Ganga Sagar festival in West Bengal

In West Bengal, this day is celebrated with great pomp and show as Ganga Sagar Mela.Celebrated every year on 14th January, pilgrims from across the country come together at Ganga Sagar to take a holy dip at the confluence of the river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal. Following the sacred dip, they offer ‘Puja’ at the ashram located nearby which is related with Kapil Muni.

This fair enjoys the distinction of being the largest fair in the entire West Bengal. It also happens to be the second biggest congregation of humanity after the world-renowned Kumbha Mela.

Pedda Padunga in Andhra Pradesh

  • Pedda Padunga in Andhra Pradesh

The festival of Sankranti is celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh(13th – 16th Jan). The first day is Bhogi, the second is Makara Sankranti (the main festival day), day three is Kanuma followed by Mukkanuma on the fourth day. On the day of Sankranti, ladies of the community draw Muggulu (rangoli) and place Gobbemma (cow dung) in its center.

With such dispersion of various communities across the country, the borders might change but the festival of Makar Sankranti resonates with memories of household rituals and traditional customs tied strongly with the thread of sentiments, values, and faith.

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