The Hindu festival of prosperity and positivity, Makara Sankranti is celebrated in most parts of India and Nepal to mark a good winter harvest. This Indian festival coincides with the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makar rashi or Capricorn and beginning of the Sun's northward journey.
Depending on the cultural background of the people coupled with climatic conditions and agricultural environment, this festival is celebrated in different ways and with a different name. Today, Makar Sankranti also known as Pongal and Bhogali Bihu, is being celebrated by people from all walks of life. This day also marks the arrival of the spring season in India.
Kicheri in Uttar Pradesh
In Uttar Pradesh, people celebrate Kicheri as the bathing festival on the banks of Sangam in Allahabad. Pilgrims take a holy dip at the Triveni Sangam, which is the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.
Makara Sankranti in Maharashtra
Women in Maharashtra dress up in their best jewellery and black saris while exchanging delicacies made of ‘til’ or sesame. The pleasant weather in the entire state including Pune, Mumbai and Nagpur will add to the gaiety of this festival. Day temperatures in these regions are hovering around 30°C while, minimums are in a comfortable range of 14°C to 15°C.
Pongal in Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, the festival is celebrated as Pongal where people worship the sun god and cattle. The most important delicacy cooked during Pongal is sweet rice. In view of rain in south coastal Tamil Nadu, day temperatures have come down to thirties and minimums in low twenties.
Lohri in Punjab and Bhogali Bihu in Assam are celebrated by lighting a bonfire. Kite flying is an important aspect of the festival. Bulls are also decorated and offered prayers on this day, as they signify the harvest season.
picture courtesy - Sudip Moitra