My India – Festivals
Festivals of India – Makar Sankranti
Makar Sankranti is a Hindu harvest festival celebrated in almost all parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh in many cultural forms. It falls on the Magh month of the Hindu Solar Calendar. It is celebrated on January 15 in 2016.
On this day the Sun returns to the Northern Hemisphere and passes from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn (Makara). The name of the festival literally means the movement of Sun into Capricorn. Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.
It is the festival of Sun God, and he is regarded as the symbol of divinity and wisdom. Sun God begins its ascendancy and enters into northern hemisphere. And thus the Sun God reminds us of Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya which means one might go higher to more light and never face any kind of darkness. Maker Sankranti signifies that one should turn away from darkness of delusion and should enjoy a new life with bright life. The Sun God is worshiped for bestowing good harvest and nurturing livestock. The cattle especially bulls and oxen are worshiped for their significance in traditionally ploughing fields.
This festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. 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 Indian family, this day onward.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated throughout India with different customs. In North India people take holy dip in Ganga on Makar Sankranti day. Thousands of people throng Hindu pilgrimage places like Haridwar, Banaras and Allahabad to take holy dip in Ganga. It is believed that holy dip in Ganga on Sankranti purges all sins committed by the person.
One of the most popular rituals of Makar Sankranti is kite flying in which people of all ages gather together and fly colorful and decorated kites with their friends and family.
On this day people prepare delicious food items and sweet dishes like Til Laddoos (sesame and jaggery), and enjoy the festival with their family members by spending time together.
It is known by different regional names:
- Makar Sankranti: Chhattisgarh, Goa, Odisha, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh,Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and West Bengal.
- Pongal, Uzhavar Thirunal: Tamil Nadu
- Uttarayan: Gujarat
- Maghi: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. The day before, people of Punjab celebrate Lohri.
- Bhogali Bihu: Assam
- Shishur Saenkraat: Kashmir Valley
- Khichdi: Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar
- Makara Sankramana: Karnataka
Poush Sankranti in West Bengal
In my state of West Bengal, it is known as Poush Sankranti named after the Bengali month in which it falls (last date of that month), and is celebrated as a harvest festival Poush Parbon. The freshly harvested paddy and the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and Khejurer Gur. The Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshiped on the day of Sankranti.
Millions of people take a dip in Ganga Sagar (the point where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal) in West Bengal.
GoldenTwine Informatics wishes you
Happy Makar Sankranti and Pongal
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Midwinter festival of Punjab with bonfire, song, Bhangra and Gidda dance.