Makara Sankranti, a festival celebrated with great pomp and show in almost all parts of India and Nepal. This festival witnesses’different rituals in various parts due to cultural diversity in India. In south India, Makara Sankranti is celebrated with great gaiety as Pongal whereas it is referred as Lohri & Maghi in Punjab. According to the Solar calendar, the festival falls in the month of Magha, on January 14th every year.
Significance of Makara Sankranti
• This harvest festival signifies the arrival of Spring season and end of winter season. People worship the god of the sun, Surya during this festival. The proceeding period is referred as the Uttarayana period which marks longer and warmer days.
• According to the Puranas, Surya visits the abode of his son. Hence, this day signifies the strengthening of a father-son relationship. The prevailing terror of Asuras was ended by Lord Vishnu on this day. Hence, this day symbolizes the end of evil powers.
• Devotees believe that by taking a holy dip in rivers on this day, such as Ganga, Yamuna, Krishna, Godavari, and Kaveri, they can wash off their sins of hundred lives. They also worship the Sun and thank him for their life.
Traditions of Makara Sankranti
The diverse culture of India displays different forms of celebration.
• Makar Sankranti is referred as ‘Khichiri’ in Uttar Pradesh. The most auspicious activity that is performed here is taking a holy dip in rivers. This ritual bath is also performed in Haridvar, Garh Mukteshwar and Patna in Bihar.
• Gujarat has a custom of exchanging gifts and kite flying. People decorate the skyline with thousands of colourful kites. Kite flying has become a popular international event.
• Maharashtra follows a tradition of exchanging sweets called tilguds prepared from sesame seeds and sugar and til-laddus prepared from sesame seeds and jaggery on this occasion.
• Bengal organizes a huge fair at Ganga Sagar on this festival where Ganga is believed to dive into the lower region and enliven the ashes of the sixty thousand ancestors of King Bhagirath.
• Allahabad organizes a one-month long fair ‘Magha-Mela’ at Prayag on this festival.