Makar Sankranti Celebrations Across India


Makar Sankranti celebrated on January 14th, in every year of winter season when the time of cold and fogy days, marks the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn. This festival is observed across India with unique customs and festivities in each state. The rich tapestry of Makar Sankranti celebrations showcases the diverse cultural heritage of the country.

Makar Sankranti celebrations

Gujarat

In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti celebrations are known as Uttarayan. The skies fill with colorful kites as people participate in the famous kite festival. Friends and families gather on rooftops, flying kites and competing to cut each other’s strings. Special delicacies like Undhiyu (a mixed vegetable dish) and Chikki (a sweet made of jaggery and peanuts) are prepared.

Maharashtra

In Maharashtra, Makar Sankranti celebrations involve exchanging sweets like tilgul (sesame and jaggery) and saying, “Tilgul ghya ani goad-goad bola,” meaning “Take tilgul and speak sweetly.” Women wear black sarees and participate in Haldi-Kumkum ceremonies, where they apply turmeric and vermillion to each other.

Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti celebrations are known as Pongal and last for four days. The first day, Bhogi, involves discarding old items and cleaning homes. The second day, Thai Pongal, is marked by cooking a special dish called Pongal, made from newly harvested rice, milk, and jaggery. The third day, Mattu Pongal, honors cattle, and the fourth day, Kaanum Pongal, is for family reunions and outings.

Karnataka

In Karnataka, the festival is called Suggi or Makara Sankramana. Makar Sankranti celebrations here involve exchanging Ellu-Bella, a mixture of sesame seeds, jaggery, coconut, and peanuts. They also fly kites, and newly married women offer bananas, sugarcane, and coconuts to married women in a ritual called “Ellu Birodhu.”

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Makar Sankranti celebrations span three days. Bhogi, the first day, involves lighting bonfires to discard old things. On the second day, Sankranti, people wear new clothes and prepare traditional dishes like Ariselu and Pongal. The third day, Kanuma, is dedicated to cattle, with special prayers and decorations.

Punjab

In Punjab, Makar Sankranti celebrations coincide with the festival of Lohri. People gather around bonfires, singing and dancing to the beats of dhol. They throw sesame seeds, popcorn, and sugarcane into the fire as offerings. The next day, Makar Sankranti is marked by feasting on traditional Punjabi dishes like Makki di Roti and Sarson da Saag.

Assam

In Assam, Makar Sankranti celebrations are known as Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu. The festivities begin with the building of Meji, a traditional bonfire, around which people sing and dance. The highlight is the community feast, featuring a variety of rice cakes (Pithas), sweets, and other traditional Assamese delicacies.

West Bengal

In West Bengal, Makar Sankranti celebrations are known as Poush Sankranti. People take a holy dip in the Ganges and offer prayers to the sun god. Special sweets called Pithe, made from rice flour, coconut, and date palm jaggery, are prepared. The Gangasagar Mela, a large fair, is also held during this time.

Uttar Pradesh

In Uttar Pradesh, Makar Sankranti celebrations include taking a holy dip in the Ganges at places like Allahabad and Varanasi. The festival is known as Khichdi, and people prepare and distribute Khichdi (a dish made of rice and lentils). Kite flying is also a popular activity.

Bihar and Jharkhand

In Bihar and Jharkhand, Makar Sankranti celebrations are known as Sakraat or Khichdi. People take baths in rivers and ponds and prepare dishes like Khichdi, Tilkut (sweet made of sesame seeds), and Thekua. They also worship the sun god and offer prayers.

The unique customs and vibrant festivities across various states make Makar Sankranti celebrations a remarkable and diverse cultural experience in India.

FAQs

Q: What is Makar Sankranti?

A: Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated on January 14th, marking the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn (Makara). It signifies the end of the winter solstice and the start of longer days.

Q: Why is Makar Sankranti celebrated?

A: Makar Sankranti is celebrated to honor the sun god, Surya, and to mark the beginning of the harvest season. It is a time for thanksgiving and celebration of new harvests.

Q: How is Makar Sankranti celebrated in Gujarat?

A: In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti celebrations are known as Uttarayan. People fly colorful kites, participate in kite competitions, and enjoy traditional foods like Undhiyu and Chikki.

Q: What are the key features of Makar Sankranti celebrations in Tamil Nadu?

A: In Tamil Nadu, the festival is known as Pongal and is celebrated over four days. Key features include cooking the dish Pongal, honoring cattle, and family gatherings.

Q: What special foods are prepared during Makar Sankranti?

A: Special foods prepared during Makar Sankranti include tilgul (sesame and jaggery sweets) in Maharashtra, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Pithe in West Bengal, and various rice cakes and sweets in Assam.

Q: How do people in Maharashtra celebrate Makar Sankranti?

A: In Maharashtra, people exchange tilgul, wear black sarees, and participate in Haldi-Kumkum ceremonies. They also fly kites and prepare traditional sweets.

Q: What is the significance of kite flying during Makar Sankranti celebrations?

A: Kite flying is a major part of Makar Sankranti celebrations, especially in Gujarat and Maharashtra. It symbolizes freedom and joy, and the clear skies during this time make it ideal for kite flying.

Q: What rituals are associated with Makar Sankranti in Punjab?

A: In Punjab, Makar Sankranti coincides with Lohri. People gather around bonfires, sing, dance, and throw offerings into the fire. The next day, they enjoy traditional Punjabi dishes.

Q: How do people in Uttar Pradesh celebrate Makar Sankranti?

A: In Uttar Pradesh, people take holy dips in the Ganges, prepare Khichdi, and fly kites. The festival is known as Khichdi and is marked by prayers and feasting.

Q: Are there any specific customs followed in Bihar and Jharkhand for Makar Sankranti?

A: Yes, in Bihar and Jharkhand, people take ritual baths, prepare Khichdi, Tilkut, and Thekua, and worship the sun god. The festival is known as Sakraat or Khichdi.

Q: What is Magh Bihu in Assam, and how is it related to Makar Sankranti?

A: Magh Bihu, also known as Bhogali Bihu, is the Assamese version of Makar Sankranti. It involves building bonfires, community feasts, and traditional dances, marking the end of the harvest season.

Q: How do people in West Bengal celebrate Makar Sankranti?

A: In West Bengal, Makar Sankranti is known as Poush Sankranti. People take holy dips in the Ganges, prepare Pithe sweets, and participate in the Gangasagar Mela.

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