Traditional Practices of Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is a vibrant and diverse festival celebrated across India, this traditions marking the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn. The traditions of this Makar Sankranti vary widely from region to region which reflecting the rich cultural tapestry of the country. So, let’s explore some of these unique customs in different states.

makar sankranti traditions

Kite Flying

In Gujarat and Maharashtra, kite flying is a major highlight of Makar Sankranti. The sky is adorned with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes as people of all ages participate in this joyful activity. Special markets are set up weeks in advance, selling a variety of kites and threads. Kite flying competitions add to the excitement, making it a spirited and competitive event.

Bonfires and Lohri

In Punjab, the festival is known as Lohri and is celebrated the night before Makar Sankranti. People gather around large bonfires, singing traditional songs and dancing to the beats of dhol. This bonfire signifies the end of winter and the arrival of warmer days. Peanuts, popcorn, and other snacks are thrown into the fire as offerings to the gods, symbolizing gratitude for the harvest.

Pongal in Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Pongal, a four-day harvest festival. The first day, Bhogi, involves discarding old items and focusing on new beginnings. The second day, Thai Pongal, is marked by cooking a special dish called Pongal, made of rice and milk, which is offered to the Sun God. The third day, Mattu Pongal, is dedicated to cattle, adorned with colorful decorations and worshipped for their role in farming. The final day, Kaanum Pongal, is a time for family reunions and outdoor activities.

Bihu in Assam

In Assam, Makar Sankranti coincides with Magh Bihu, a festival that celebrates the end of the harvesting season. The festivities begin with Uruka, a grand community feast. On the day of Bihu, people light bonfires known as Meji, around which they sing and dance to traditional Bihu songs. The celebrations also include bullfights, games, and the preparation of traditional sweets like pithas.

Uttarayan in Gujarat

In Gujarat, the festival is called Uttarayan and is synonymous with kite flying. People gather on rooftops to fly kites from dawn to dusk, enjoying special foods like undhiyu (a mixed vegetable dish) and chikki (a sweet made of sesame seeds and jaggery). The atmosphere is festive, with music and laughter filling the air.

Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Makar Sankranti is a three-day festival. The first day, Bhogi, involves burning old items in a bonfire. The second day, Pedda Panduga, is the main festival day with elaborate feasts and kite flying. The third day, Kanuma, is dedicated to cattle, and the fourth day, Mukkanuma, involves family gatherings and festive meals.

Khichdi in Uttar Pradesh

In Uttar Pradesh, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with the preparation of khichdi, a dish made of rice and lentils. Pilgrims take a holy dip in the Ganges River, particularly at the Sangam in Allahabad, believing it to cleanse their sins. The festival also involves charity, with people donating clothes, blankets, and food to the needy.

The traditions of Makar Sankranti are a beautiful blend of cultural practices, regional flavors, and communal harmony. Each region adds its unique touch, making the festival a truly national celebration of joy and gratitude.

Makar Sankranti, a festival celebrated across India, marks the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn. The traditions of Makar Sankranti vary widely from region to region, reflecting the country’s rich cultural diversity. Let’s explore some more unique customs associated with this vibrant festival.

Ganga Sagar Mela in West Bengal

In West Bengal, Makar Sankranti is marked by the Ganga Sagar Mela, a massive fair held at the confluence of the Ganges River and the Bay of Bengal. Pilgrims from all over the country gather to take a holy dip in the waters, believed to purify their souls and wash away sins. The mela is one of the largest gatherings of its kind and includes various cultural and spiritual activities.

Poush Sankranti in Bengal

Poush Sankranti is celebrated with much enthusiasm in Bengal. Traditional sweets like pithas, made from rice flour, jaggery, and coconut, are prepared in every household. The festival also features fairs and cultural performances, showcasing the region’s rich heritage. People participate in community feasts and visit temples to offer prayers.

Makaravilakku in Kerala

In Kerala, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Makaravilakku at the Sabarimala Temple. Thousands of devotees undertake a pilgrimage to the temple, observing strict rituals and penance. The highlight of the festival is the sighting of the Makaravilakku, a divine light that appears on the hill near the temple, symbolizing the presence of the deity.

Maghi in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh

In Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Makar Sankranti is known as Maghi. People take a ritualistic bath in rivers and lakes, followed by feasts featuring traditional delicacies like khichdi and tilgul (sweet made of sesame seeds and jaggery). The festival also includes fairs, wrestling matches, and folk dances, highlighting the region’s vibrant culture.

Shishur Saenkraat in Kashmir

In Kashmir, Makar Sankranti is called Shishur Saenkraat. The festival is marked by traditional rituals and family gatherings. Special dishes, such as harissa (a meat delicacy) and various sweets, are prepared to celebrate the occasion. People also engage in kite flying, adding a colorful touch to the winter skies.

Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, the celebration of Thai Pongal spans four days. On Bhogi, old belongings are burnt to symbolize the end of the old and the beginning of the new. Thai Pongal, the main day, involves cooking a special dish called Pongal and offering it to the Sun God. Mattu Pongal is dedicated to cattle, which are adorned with garlands and worshipped. The final day, Kaanum Pongal, is for socializing and outdoor activities, strengthening community bonds.

Kicheri in Bihar and Jharkhand

In Bihar and Jharkhand, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with the preparation of dahi-chura (flattened rice with curd) and tilkut (a sweet made of sesame seeds). The festival also involves kite flying, and fairs are organized where traditional music and dance performances are held. People take a holy dip in rivers, especially the Ganges, and perform charity.

Celebration in Odisha

In Odisha, Makar Sankranti traditions is celebrated as Makara Chaula, where a special dish made of newly harvested rice, jaggery, banana, coconut, and chhena (cottage cheese) is prepared. People also worship the Sun God and distribute food to the needy. The festival includes cultural performances, traditional games, and fairs, showcasing the state’s rich heritage.

Suggi Habba in Karnataka

In Karnataka, the festival is known as Suggi Habba or Makara Sankramana. Farmers decorate their cattle, offer prayers, and prepare traditional dishes like ellu-bella (a mix of sesame seeds, jaggery, coconut, and peanuts). The festival also involves exchanging these sweets with friends and family, symbolizing goodwill and harmony.

Uttarayana Punyakalam in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the festival is celebrated as Uttarayana Punyakalam. It is a time for family gatherings, feasts, and flying kites. Special dishes like ariselu (sweet made of rice flour and jaggery) and pulihora (tamarind rice) are prepared. The festival also includes bonfires and worship of cattle, reflecting the agrarian lifestyle of the region.

Makar Sankranti’s diverse traditions highlight the cultural richness and unity in diversity of India. Each region’s unique customs contribute to the festival’s national significance, making it a joyous and harmonious celebration of harvest and prosperity.

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