Makar Sankranti 2021 Date:14 January 2021 (Thursday)
It usually falls on the same date, every year; and that is 14 January. Sometimes, the date changes to January 15 as well. It's primarily a harvest festival and it celebrates the onset of the new season, bringing in longer days and shorter nights and warmer climate.
Where is Sankranti Festival Celebrated?Makar Sankranti is celebrated across numerous states in India. Every state has its own, unique way on the kind of rituals that are followed.
State Wise Festivities-
1. Tamil NaduTamil Nadu celebrates Pongal. It is their harvest festival. The name comes from their regional sweet delicacy. It is a 4-day long festival; each of which has its own distinct rituals.
- Day 1 (Bhogi Pongal)- people wear new clothes, give away old stuff and express gratitude for new belongings. Homes are cleaned, painted and decorated.
- Day 2 (Surya Pongal)- is the day that coincides with Makar Sankranti. The Pongal dish is prepared using harvested rice, milk and jaggery. It is made by a group of people and offered to deities. Kolams are made in houses using coloured rice flour.
- Day 3 (Mattu Pongal)- is all about appreciating the cattle by decorating and worshipping them. Temple processions are held as well.
- Day 4 (Kaanum Pongal)- embraces togetherness. Families reunite and get together to spend quality time with each other and celebrate the fresh harvest.
2. MaharashtraMaharashtra celebrates Makar Sankranti for 3 days.
- Day 1 (Bhogi)- it involves worshipping Lord sun and flying kites.
- Day 2 (Sankranti)- on which, married women get together, wearing traditional ethnic wear, to exchange gifts and supply haldi-kumkum to each other.
- Day 3 (Kinkrant)- The popular Marathi saying, "Til Gud Ghya, God God Bola" comes from Maharashtra. It translates to, "Eat these sesame seed and jaggery ladoos, and speak sweetly." The idea is to set aside differences, share sweetness and positivity in words and actions.
3. RajasthanMakar Sankranti is called as Sankrat in Rajasthan. The celebration of this festival in Rajasthan is primarily about a whole lot of delicacies and kite-flying. The married women follow the ritual of gifting household stuff to other married women. Delicacies such as Pheeni, gajak, ghevar, pakodi, til-paati, til-ladoo, Samosas etc. are prepared and savoured. The kite festival in Jaipur is quite popular and attracts many tourists as well.
4. GujaratThis festival is called as 'Uttarayan' in Gujarat. The word Uttarayan literally translates to 'northward direction,' as the sun travels that way. The markets overflow with a plethora of colorful, attractive kites and manjhas. Kite-flying is a huge deal when it comes to Uttarayan. There is an international kite festival held at Sabarmati Riverfront. Apart from this, delicacies such as the traditional 'Undhiyu' (made using seasonal, winter veggies)and sweets like Chikkis (made using jaggery, peanuts etc.) are prepared.
5. Uttar PradeshMakar Sankranti is referred to as Kicheri in Uttar Pradesh. It involves ritual bathing in Prayagraj, Varanasi, Haridwar etc. There's kite-flying as well. Khichdi is prepared with urad dal and rice and offered to deities. People gift each other, wear new clothes and also indulge in relishing sweet items like Gur Laddoos. Donating warm clothes and food grains to the underprivileged happens to be one of the main practices during this festival.
6. AssamIt is called Magh Bihu in Assam. It is celebrated to express gratitude for the fresh produce that is reaped. Not just villages, but cities celebrate it as well. Another name is Bhogali Bihu that focuses on the celebration of food. There are sweet preparations and bonfires called 'Mejis' lit on the night before the festival. There are get-together meetings with traditional Assamese food and cultural performances.
7. West BengalMakar Sankranti is referred to as Poush Sankranti in Bengal. The central idea remains the same. Differences lie in the kind of food preparations which involve traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, khejur gur (jaggery) etc. One popular dish is Pitha that is also offered to deities. The massive Gangasagar fair at Sagar Island is extremely popular here.
8. PunjabPunjab is exceedingly famous for its Lohri celebration. People dress up in new, colourful clothes and get together near the fire to pray, express gratitude, sing and dance on Punjabi folk music and 'Giddha.' Rewari made with jaggery, peanuts etc. are distributed among people. Lohri is celebrated the night before Makar Sankranti, referred to as 'Maghi' in Punjab. People relish kheer, jaggery, sugarcane etc., and other delicacies such as khichdi. Various fairs are held at different places. It also marks the beginning of a new financial year for farmers.
9. KarnatakaKarnaraka's Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Suggi Habba or Makar Sankranama. Quite similar to other places, this is about wearing new clothes, reuniting with friends and family, sharing food and sets made from winter special ingredients. There's kite-flying, rangolis, processions with decorated bulls and cows etc. as well.
10. Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh celebrates this festival for 3 days.
- Day 1 (Bhogi Panduga)- and all the old, unused stuff is burnt.
- Day 2 (Pedda Panduga)- with the usual, wearing new clothes, praying, having guests over, arranging feasts with a ton of sweet dishes and the like.
- Day 3 (Kanuma Panduga)- where meat is relished.
11. KeralaThere is an annual festival called Makaravilakku at the Lord Aiyappa temple in Sabarimala. It is also known as Makar Jyothi. It is an auspicious shrine where people commemorate their 41-day fast.
12. Himachal PradeshIn Himachal, Makar Sankranti is also known as Magha Saaji. To celebrate, people rise early in the morning, visit temples and each other's houses, feast on sweets, Khichdi and more. There's a place called Tattapani hot water springs which is well known for its auspiciousness and healing properties; as people take ceremonial dips in the water. Tula Daan is practised by offering specific quantities of cereal to priests. There is a fair with small shops and stalls of a variety of products like toys, imitation jewellery and sweets. The Lohri-Makar Sankranti time also involves activities like singing and Himachali folk dance.
13. OdishaThe name 'Makara Chaula' comes from the traditional delicacy of Odia, that is in-fact offered to deities on the day of Makar Sankranti. It is a dish made with rice, jaggery, sugarcane juice, chhena, banana, coconut etc. This dish happens to be one of the highlights of this festival.
Origin and Mythological, Cultural Significance of Makar SankrantiThe origin of Makar Sankranti or the period of Uttarayan traces back to Indian mythology. One of the stories is of Lord Surya and Shani Dev. Shani is the zodiac Capricorn's (Makar) Lord. It is believed that the relations between Surya and Shani weren't the most sound; yet, it was on this day that Lord Surya pays a visit to Shani Dev, setting aside the differences. This signifies the silver lining of Makar Sankranti about how sweetness and good relations are unnegotiable.
Another story is about Lord Vishnu. It is said that it was on this day, when Lord Vishnu killed the asuras and buried them under the Mandara Parvat. This story signifies the victory of good over evil.
Based out of Mahabharata, it is said that Bhishma Pitamah had a boon of 'Iccha Mrityu,' and that he chose to die at the beginning of Uttarayana, that is when the sun changes its direction towards the north. He lay on the deathbed with arrows for 58 days until this very day. It is believed that if someone dies during this period, he attains salvation or 'Moksha,' and goes to Vaikuntha.
The significance of the various rituals of Sankranti Festival cannot be overstated. Be it the holy practices, food preparations or even the concept of flying kites.
The spirit of Sankranti Festival lies in the sweet preparations made with jaggery and sesame seeds and the way they are shared with everyone around. It is also a way to stir sweetness in lives by being more humble and warm. The togetherness that the fun festivities bring about is also worth a mention.