January 15, 2016

MAKAR SANKRANTI IN SOUTH ASIA HAS ITS 11 DIFFERENT NAMES

[The festival of Makar Sankranti holds special value in the states of Delhi and Haryana as it also celebrates the special bond between brothers and their married sisters. Brothers visit their married sisters and gift them warm clothes and sweets. Similarly, the wives also gift their in-laws and husband’s families on the day. All the men and women congregate in a common place and celebrate the festival by singing songs and with music.]

By Rutu Ladage
 
Makar Sankranti

It’s Makar Sankranti today and the festival is celebrated all over India with a whole lot of excitement. The spring festival, Makar Sankranti is the first Indian festival of the Gregorian calendar and is celebrated as a solstice festival. It is one of the few festivals in the country that falls on the same day every year. Each state and region of India celebrates the festival in their own way and there are even some neighbouring countries that celebrate Makar Sankranti! The festival has tons of names but the fervour of celebration is the same all over! Makar Sankranti is symbolic of kite flying, seasame chikkis and sweets and lots of family bonding!

1. Maghe Sankranti – Nepal

Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Maghe Sankranti and like most regions, they too celebrate the festival with sesame seeds. One of the legends has it that aeons ago, a businessman had a sack of sesame seeds which never seemed to end. On digging through the bag, he found an idol of Lord Vishnu in the bag and hence, sesame seeds became auspicious. After Makar Sankranti, the auspicious period commences and all ceremonies are done in Nepal.

2. Makara Sankranti - Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

In Andhra and Telangana, Makar Sankranti is a 4-day festival and is celebrated with a lot of excitement. The families come together and celebrate it with a lot of sweets and in a traditional ways. The first day is Bhoghi, second Makara Sankranti, third is Kanuma and fourth is Mukkanuma. The traditions and celebrations on each day are different an while the first three days a strict vegetarian diet is followed, on Mukkanuma, animal is sacrificed to the God and meat is savoured.

3. Sakraat or Khichdi – Bihar and Jharkhand

The festival is a 2-day festival in Bihar and Jharkhand where the people take holy dips in the river early in the morning and then, have bonfires into which they offer sesame seeds. Delicacies are prepared with sesame seeds and jaggery. The women folk in villages come together and celebrate the festival while cooking simple but hearty meals of rice and lentils or curd and rice/puffed rice with some vegetables.

4. Sakraat - Delhi and Haryana

The festival of Makar Sankranti holds special value in the states of Delhi and Haryana as it also celebrates the special bond between brothers and their married sisters. Brothers visit their married sisters and gift them warm clothes and sweets. Similarly, the wives also gift their in-laws and husband’s families on the day. All the men and women congregate in a common place and celebrate the festival by singing songs and with music.

5. Uttarayan – Gujarat

Makar Sankranti is celebrated on a lavish scale in Gujarat and the state also has a special International Kite Flying festival. People stay at home on leave and after prayers in the morning, congregate on terrace tops with their kites. There are lots of kite games and kite wars. People feed each other sweets like chikki and a special preparation ofUndhiyu (a mix of spcied vegetables is made). The state celebrates the festival lavishly.

6. Magha Saaji – Himachal Pradesh

Saaji is the local word for Sankrant and Magha is the name of the month and the sun-sign (capricorn) that commences with the arrival of the festival. The day signals a change in seasons and people welcome spring by taking a dip in the rivers or bathe in holy water. They visit their neighbours and share sweets like chikki or khichdi and ghee (clarified butter). The locals also visit temples and do a lot of charity on this day. The evening is celebrated with  folk songs and dances.
  
7. Suggi – Karnataka

Suggi is the harvest festival of Karnataka celebrated mainly by farmers and the women. The women visit each other’s houses in a ritual known as Ellu Birodhu and they carry a plate of offerings and sweets with them for exchange. The plate has sesame seeds and jaggery, and other nuts like fried ground nuts and coconut, sugar-cane pieces and sugar candies. Women also draw rangolis outside their homes and decorate the cattle with colourful decorations and paint their horns.

8. Ghughuti or Kale Kauva – Uttarakhand

In Uttarakhand, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as the festival of the migratory birds as they believe it is the season for the birds to end their migration. The locals give khichdi and other food as charity and organise fairs and meet-ups. Sweetmeats are made out of sweetened flour by frying them and then asking the children to offer these sweets to crows as a blessing for the migratory birds on their homeward journey.

9. Maghi – Punjab

Also celebrated as Lohri, Maghi signals the change to warmer weather and the day holds a special place in the hearts of the residents of Punjab. They bathe early in the morning and light lamps with sesame oil to drive away the darkness (from life) and bring in the prosperity. They also have huge bonfires in the evenings and enjoy their day by socialising and having a hearty meal with sesame sweets.

10. Pongal – Tamil Nadu

Just like Andhra, Tamil Nadu also celebrates Pongal for 4 days with each of the days having a special significance. On the first day, people clean and decorate their houses, wear new clothes and discard or give away all the unwanted things. On the second day, that is the main Pongal day, people celebrate by having sweets and sweet rice reparations. The rice is brought to a boil with milk and jaggery and allowed to boil over the pot. The minute the rice boils over, there is a spcial cry uttered and Pongal is celebrated. The rice is offered to the God and then shared by the people. The other two days involve worshipping the cattle and viviting the relatives.

11. Poush Parbon - West Bengal

Poush Parbon is celebrated in West Bengal. The festival falls on the last day of the Hindu month of Poush and signals the beginning of Magha and hence, it is named after the month. Special palm jaggery, Khejurer Gur, that is available only during this period, is used to prepare sweets and delicacies. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on the day of Sankranti. However, in Darjeeling, the festival is celebrated as Magey Sakrati and Lord Shiva is worshipped.