Friday, 13 January 2017

Festival - Makara Sankranti, the dip in Holy rivers

Festival - Makara Sankranti, the dip in Holy rivers

Makara Sankranti
Kite shop in Lucknow.jpg
Colourful kites being sold in a Shop in Lucknow
Also calledSankaranthi
TypeSeasonal, Traditional
SignificanceFestival of Harvest, Celebration of Winter Solstice
CelebrationsKite flying
Dateday when the Sun begins its movement away from the Tropic of Capricorn (mid-January)
2016 date15 January
2017 date14 January
2018 date14 January
Makara Sankranti also known as Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path, which is the first change in the zodiac after the winter solstice. The festival is celebrated in various parts of the Indian subcontinent to observe the day which marks the shift of the sun into ever-lengthening days. The festival is a seasonal observance as well as a religious celebration. Makara Sankranthi is a solar event making it one of the few Hindu festivals which fall on the same date in local calendars every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January.

Date and significanceEdit

Makara Sankranti is observed at the beginning of the Capricorn period under the sidereal zodiac, either 14 or 15 January, and signifies the arrival of warmer days. The festival is also dedicated to the sun god and marks the six months auspicious period for Hindus known as Uttaarayan. The importance of Uttaarayan is exhibited in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, where Bhishma Pitamah waited for the sun to be in Uttaarayan for him to die willingly.
Makara Sankranti is believed to be a time for peace and prosperity. The day is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery. The bathing is believed to wash away sins.

Makara Sankranti and the Winter SolsticeEdit

Winter Solstice
In the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice occurs between 21 and 22 December. Day light begins to increase around this time when the Sun begins its northward journey which marks the six month northward journey of the sun known as (Sanskrit) Uttarayaana. Makar Sankranti is the first solar festival which takes place after winter solstice which signifies the return of longer days. Therefore, the festival symbolically marks the winter solstice when the sun ends its zodiacal southward journey (Sanskrit: Dakshinayana) at the Tropic of Capricorn, in the Indian month of Pausha and starts moving northward (Uttarayaan) towards the Tropic of Cancer, in the Indian and Nepalese Hindu month of Magha on this day in mid-January. In Hinduism, Uttarayaana is the six month period which begins from Makar Sankranti.
The actual date of winter solstice changes gradually due to the Axial precession of the Earth, coming earlier by approximately 1 day in every 70 years. Hence, if Makara Sankranti at some point of time did mark the actual date of winter solstice, a date in mid-January would correspond to around 300CE, the heyday of Indian mathematics and astronomy.

Makara SankrantiEdit

Makara or Makar Sankranti is celebrated in many parts of South Asia with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different parts of the region. Sometimes, different festivals coincide on the same day such as Thai Pongal and Makar Sankranti.
In India it is known by different regional names.
In other countries too the day is celebrated but under different names and in different ways.

Traditions, rituals and celebrationEdit

NepalEdit

Maghe Sankranti (Nepali and Maithili: माघे सङ्क्रान्ति, Nepal Bhasa: घ्यःचाकु संल्हु) is a Nepalese festival observed on the first of Magh in the Bikram Samwat Hindu Solar Nepali calendar (about 14 January), bringing an end to the ill-omened month of Poush when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. On this day, the sun is believed to leave its southernmost position and begin its northward journey.
Maghe Sankranti is similar to solstice festivals in other religious traditions. On this occasion prayers are offered at the confluence of rivers and people take a dip in rivers. These include Sankhamul on the Bagmati river near Patan; in the Gandaki/Narayani river basin at Triveni near the Indian border; Devghat near Chitwan Valley and Ridi on the Kaligandaki; and in the Koshi River basin at Dolalghat on the Sun Koshi. On Maghe Sankranti Cha puja and on Bhadra Purnima Nara puja is performed for people to pray for the community's protection against the external forces of evil. Festive foods like laddoo, ghee and sweet potatoes are distributed to relatives and friends. The mother of each household wishes good health to all family members.
As per Kirat and Madhesi community this festival is celebrated as a start of a new year which is called Yele Dhung. Based on the rical evidence, the Kirat and Mithilacalendar was started when King Yalamber and Janaka respectively and they conquered Kathmandu valley. The legend states that a successful businessman was curious as to why his supply of sesame seed seemed to be never ending. When he inspected the bag he found an idol of Lord Vishnu, the preserver. According to Mahabharata, Bhishma, who had the power to control his own death, chose to die on the day of Maghe Sakranti. Therefore, it is believed that one who dies on this day might achieve Moksha, a release from rebirth cycle.

IndiaEdit

It is celebrated differently across regions of India.

Andhra Pradesh and TelanganaEdit

The festival, Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి), is celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana:
  • Day 1 – Bhoghi (భోగి) (Andhra Pradesh, తెలంగాణ and Karnataka )
  • Day 2 – Makara Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి-పెద్ద పండుగ), the main festival day
  • Day 3 – Kanuma (కనుమ) (Andhra Pradesh And Telangana]
  • Day 4 — Mukkanuma (Andhra Pradesh And Telangana]
Bhogi(భోగి)
The day preceding Makara Sankranti is called Bhoghi (భోగి). This is when people discard old and derelict things and concentrate on new things causing change or transformation. At dawn, people light a bonfire[9] with logs of wood, other solid fuels and wooden furniture that are no longer useful. The disposal of derelict things is where all old habits, vices, attachment to relations and material things are sacrificed in the fire of the knowledge of Rudra, known as the "Rudra Gita Gyana Yagna". It represents realization, transformation and purification of the soul by imbibing and inculcating divine virtues.
In many families, infants and children (usually less than three years old) are showered with the Indian jujube fruit Ziziphus mauritiana, called "Regi Pandlu" in Telugu. It is believed that doing this protects the children from the evil eye. Sweets in generous quantities are prepared and distributed. It is a time for families to congregate. Landlords give gifts of food, clothes and money to their workforce.
Makara Sankranti(మకర సంక్రాంతి)
The second day is Makara Sankranti. People wear new clothes, pray to God, and make offerings of traditional food to ancestors who have died. They also make beautiful and ornate drawings and patterns on the ground with chalk or flour, called "Rangoli" or "muggu" in Telugu, in front of their homes. These drawings are decorated with flowers, colours and small, hand-pressed piles of cow dung, called "gobbemma" (గొబ్బెమ్మ).
For this festival all families prepare Chakinalu, Nuvvula Appalu, Gare Appalu or Katte Appalu or karam appalu, Madugulu (Jantikalu), Bellam Appalu, kudumulu, Ariselu, Appalu (a sweet made of jaggery and rice flour) dappalam (a dish made with pumpkin and other vegetables) and make an offering to God.
Kanuma(కనుమ)
On the third day, Kanuma (కనుమ) is celebrated. Kanuma is very intimate to the hearts of farmers because it is the day for praying and showcasing their cattle with honor. Cattle are the symbolic indication of prosperity.
Nowadays Kanuma is not celebrated as widely as it used to be, but it is an integral part of the Sankranti culture and is meant for thanksgiving to cattle. On the day after Makara Sankranti, the animal kingdom is remembered and, in particular, cows. Girls feed the animals, birds and fish as a symbol of sharing. Travel is considered to be inappropriate, as these days are dedicated for re-union of the families. Sankranti in this sense demonstrates their strong cultural values as well as a time for change and transformation. And finally, gurus seek out their devotees to bestow blessings on them.
Mukkanuma
The fourth day is called Mukkanuma (ముక్కనుమ) which is popular among the non-vegetarians of the society. On this day, farmers offer prayers to the elements (like soil, rain, fire for helping the harvest) and the (village) goddesses with their gifts which sometimes (and these days mainly) include animals.
People in Coastal Andhra do not eat any meat (or fish) during the first three days of the festival and do so only on the day of Mukkanuma.
Kanuma, Mukkanuma and the day following Mukkanuma call for celebrations with union of families, friends, relatives followed by fun activities, which mainly include cock fighting, bullock/ox racing, kite flying, and ram (pottelu) fighting.
On this occasion, in every town and city, people play with kites and the sky is filled with beautiful kites. Children and elders enjoy this occasion.
Another notable feature of the festival in Andhra Pradesh is the Haridasu who goes early in the morning around with a colourfully dressed cow, singing songs of Lord Vishnu (Hari) hence the name Haridasu (servant of Hari). It is a custom that he should not talk to anyone and only sing songs of Lord Vishnu when he goes to everyone's house.

Bihar and JharkhandEdit

Teel Barfi made predominantly of teel (sesame seeds) and gud
In Bihar and Jharkhand, the festival is celebrated on 14–15 January.
On 14 January, it is celebrated as Makar Sankranti or Sakraat or Khichdi (in local dialects). As in other parts of country, people take baths in rivers and ponds and feast upon seasonal delicacies as a celebration of good harvest. The delicacies include chura, gur (jaggery), sweets made of til (sesame seeds) such as tilgul, tilwa, maska, etc., curd, milk and seasonal vegetables. Kite flying festivals are organised, albeit on a small scale.
On 15 January, it is celebrated as Makraat (in some parts of the state) when people relish special khichdi (dal-rice replete with cauliflower, peas and potatoes).
The festival is one of the most important. People start their day by worshiping and putting til (sesame seeds) into fire followed by eating "dahi-chuda", a dish made of beaten rice (chuda or poha, in Hindi, or avalakki, in Kannada) served with a larger serving of dahi (curd), with cooked kohada (red pumpkin) that is prepared specially with sugar and salt but no water. The meal is generally accompanied by tilkut and lai (laddu made of til, chuda and rice). The festive meal is traditionally made by women in groups. Since the meal is heavy, lunch is generally skipped on the day and the time is, instead, spent on socializing and participating in kite flying festivals.
At night a special khichdi is made and served with its four traditional companions, "char yaar" (four friends) — chokha (roasted vegetable), papadghee and achaar. Since such a rich khichdi is generally made on this festival, the festival is often colloquially referred to as "Khichdi".

Delhi and HaryanaEdit

Yadavs, Jats and other rural communities of Delhi and Haryana and many neighbouring states consider Sakraat or Sankranti to be a main festival of the year. Churma of ghee, halwa and kheer are cooked specially in Jats and Yadavs homes on this day. One brother of every married woman visits her home with a gift of some warm clothing for her and her husband's family. It is called "Sidha". Women used to give a gift to their in-laws, and this rituals called "Manana". The recipient will sit in a haweli (main palace where men sit together and share hookka). Women go to haweli to sing folk songs and give gifts.

GoaEdit

Celebrations in Goa closely resemble to that in Maharashtra. The women celebrate 'haldi-kumkum'.

GujaratEdit

Uttarayan, as Makara Sankranti is called in Gujarati, is a major festival in the state of Gujarat which lasts for two days.
  • 14 January is Uttarayan
  • 15 January is Vasi-Uttarayan (Stale Uttarayan).
Gujarati people keenly await this festival to fly kites, called 'patang'. Kites for Uttarayan are made of special light-weight paper and bamboo and are mostly rhombus shaped with central spine and a single bow. The string often contains abrasives to cut down other people's kites.
In Gujarat, from December through to Makara Sankranti, people start enjoying Uttarayan. Undhiyu (spicy, baked mix of winter vegetables) and chikkis (made from til (sesame seeds), peanuts and jaggery) are the special festival recipes savoured on this day.
In the major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, and Jamnagar the skies appear filled with thousands upon thousands of kites as people enjoy two full days of Uttarayan on their terraces.
When people cut any kites they yell words like "kaypo chhe", "e lapet","jaay jaay","phirki vet phirki" and "lapet lapet" in Gujarati.

Himachal PradeshEdit

In Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh, Makara Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji. Saaji is the Pahari word for Sakranti, start of the new month. Hence this day marks the start of the month of Magha.
According to Hindu religious texts, on the day of Uttarayani the sun enters the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricon), i.e., from this day onwards the sun becomes 'Uttarayan' or it starts moving to the north. It is said that from this day, which signals a change of season, the migratory birds start returning to the hills. On Magha Saaja people wake up early in the morning and take ceremonial dips and shower in the springs or baolis. In the daytime people visit their neighbours and together enjoy khichdi with ghee and chaas and give it in charity at temples. Festival culminates with singing and Naati (folk dance).

KarnatakaEdit

This is the Suggi (ಸುಗ್ಗಿ) or harvest festival for farmers of Karnataka. On this auspicious day, girls wear new clothes to visit near and dear ones with a Sankranti offering in a plate and exchange the same with other families. This ritual is called "Ellu Birodhu." Here the plate would normally contain "Ellu" (white sesame seeds) mixed with fried groundnuts, neatly cut dry coconut and fine cut bella (jaggery). The mixture is called "Ellu-Bella" (ಎಳ್ಳು ಬೆಲ್ಲ). The plate contains shaped sugar candy moulds (Sakkare Acchu, ಸಕ್ಕರೆ ಅಚ್ಚು) with a piece of sugarcane. There is a saying in Kannada "ellu bella thindu olle maathadi" that translates to 'eat the mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good.' This festival signifies the harvest of the season, since sugarcane is predominant in these parts. Ellu Bella, Ellu Unde, bananas, sugarcane, red berries, haldi and kumkum and small gift items useful in everyday lives are often exchanged among women in Karnataka.
In some parts of Karnataka, a newly married woman is required to give away bananas for five years to married women (muthaidhe/sumangali) from the first year of her marriage and increase the number of bananas in multiples of five. There is also a tradition of some households giving away red berries "Yalchi Kai" with the above. In north Karnataka, kite flying with community members is a tradition. Drawing rangoli in groups is another popular event among women during Sankranti.
An important ritual is display of cows and bulls in colourful costumes in an open field. Cows are decorated for the occasion and taken on a procession. They are also made to cross a fire. This ritual is common in rural Karnataka and is called "Kichchu Haayisuvudu."

KeralaEdit

Makara Sankranti is celebrated in Kerala at Sabarimala where the Makara Jyothi is visible followed by the Makaravilakku celebrations.

UttarakhandEdit

In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Makara Sankranti is celebrated with great gusto.
According to Indian religious texts, on the day of Uttarayani also called Ghughuti (घुघुति) in Kumaon, the sun enters the Zodiacal sign of 'Makara' (Capricon), i.e. from this day onwards the sun becomes 'Uttarayan' or it starts moving to the north. It is said that from this day, which signals a change of season, the migratory birds start returning to the hills. On Makara Sankranti people give Khichadi (a mixture of pulses and rice) in charity, take ceremonial dips in holy rivers, participate in the Uttarayani fairs and celebrate the festival of Ghughutia or Kale Kauva. During the festival of Kale Kauva (literal translation 'black crow') people make sweetmeats out of sweetened flour (flour and gur) deep fried in ghee, shape them in shapes such as drums, pomegranates, knives, and swords. They are strung together and worn as necklace, in the middle of which an orange is fixed. Early in the morning children wear these necklaces and sing "Kale Kauva" to attract crows and other birds and offer them portions of these necklaces, as a token of welcome for all the migratory birds, who are now coming back after their winter sojourn in the plains.
Wearing garlands of the above eatables the children come out calling the crows with following song on their lips:
Kale Kale,
bhol bate aile bor puwa,
Khale Ie Kauva bara,
mai ke de sunu gharo,
Ie Kauva dhal,
mai ke de sunu thai.
काले कौवा काले घुघुति माला खाले
ले कौवा बड़ा मकें दे सुणो घड़ा
ले कौवा ढाल मकें दे सुणो थाल
(Come dear crow, come daily you will enjoy eating bara and puwa. Take the bara and give me a pitcher full of gold. Take the shield and give me a golden plate.)

MaharashtraEdit

Multicolored sugar halwa surrounded by til-gul (sesame and jaggery) ladoos. These exchanged and eaten on Makara Sankranti in Maharashtra
In Maharashtra on Makara Sankranti (मकर संक्रान्ति) day people exchange multicoloured halwa (sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and til-gul laadoo (sweetmeats made from sesame seeds and jaggery). Gulachi poli/puran poli (गुळाची पोळी / पुरण पोळी) (flat bread stuffed with soft/shredded jaggery mixed with toasted, ground til [white sesame seeds]) and some gram flour, which has been toasted to golden in pure ghee, are offered for lunch. While exchanging til-gul as tokens of goodwill people greet each other with the words "तिळगुळ घ्या, आणि गोड-गोड बोला / til-gul ghyaa, aani goad-goad bolaa" meaning ‘Accept this til-gul (sweet) and utter sweet words’. The underlying thought in the exchange of til-gul is to forget the past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends. The importance of sesame seeds is it keeps body warm and provide good oil, which is needed as winter dried up the moisture from body.
In Maharashtra, similar to Andhra Pradesh Makar Sankaranti, is normally a three-day festival.
Day 1 is known as Bhogi (भोगी), day 2 as Sankrant (संक्रांत) and day 3 as Kinkrant/Kinkranti (किंक्रांत/किंक्रांती).
The story behind this festival is Sankarasur (संकरासुर) Rakshasa was very brutal indeed. And He started torturing and killing people. To finish off Sankarasur Goddess Sankranti (संक्रांति) appeared on the earth and killed Sankarasur. To celebrate the downfall of Sankarasur, people started festival Sankranti.
This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kunku’ (literally meaning turmeric-vermillion) and given gifts such as utensils, clothes etc. Typically, women wear black sarees or black coloured outfits on this occasion. The significance of wearing black is that Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and black colour retains and absorbs heat, helping keep warm. Maharashtra is also famous for kite flying on this special occasion.
Kites waiting to catch the wind, held down by weights
Makara Sankranti is one of the most auspicious days for the Indians and is celebrated in almost all parts of India in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion. Millions of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar (the point where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal) and Prayag and pray to the Sun God (Surya). It is celebrated with pomp in southern parts of India as Sankranti in Karnataka (Pongal in Tamil Nadu), and in Punjab as Maghi.
Makara Sankranti is also to honour, worship and to pay respect to Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge). At the start of this significant event, there is worship for ancestors.
Makara Sankranti identifies a period of enlightenment, peace, prosperity and happiness followed by a period of darkness, ignorance and viciousness with immense sorrow. The six months of northern movement of the sun is followed by six months of southern movement.
Since the festival is celebrated in mid-winter, food prepared for this festival is such that it keeps the body warm and gives high energy. Laddu of til made with jaggery is a speciality of the festival. In the western Indian state of Maharashtra it is called 'Tilgud'. In Karnataka it is called 'Yellu-Bella'. In some states, cattle are decorated with colours and are made to jump over a bonfire.

OdishaEdit

In Odisha people prepare makara chaula (Odiaମକର ଚାଉଳ): uncooked newly harvested rice, banana, coconutjaggerysesamerasagola, Khai/Liaa and chhena puddings for naivedya to gods and goddesses. The withdrawing winter entails a change in food habits and intake of nourishing and rich food. Therefore, this festival holds traditional cultural significance. It is astronomically important for devotees who worship the sun god at the great Konark temple with fervour and enthusiasm as the sun starts its annual swing northwards. According to various Indian calendars, the Sun's movement changes and the days from this day onwards become lengthier and warmer and so the Sun-God is worshiped on this day as a great benefactor. Many individuals at the start of the day perform a ritual bath while fasting. Makara Mela (Fun fair) is observed at Dhabaleswar in Cuttack, Hatakeshwar at Atri in Khordha, Makara Muni temple in Balasore and near deities in each district of Odisha. In Puri special rituals are carried out at the temple of Lord Jagannath. In Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Kalahandi, Koraput and Sundargarh where the tribal population is greater, the festival is celebrated with great joy. They celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm, singing, dancing and generally having an enjoyable time. This Makara Sankranti celebration is next to the Odia traditional new year Maha Vishuva Sankranti which falls in mid April. Tribal groups celebrate with traditional dancing, eating their particular dishes sitting together, and by lighting bonfires.
It is the only Indian festival celebrated on a fixed day of the Georgian calendar. Besides the usual rituals, people of Orissa, especially Western Orissa, reaffirm the strength of the bond of friendship with their best friends during this occasion. The practice is called ‘Makar Basiba’. After a man binds himself with one of his friends in the shackles of friendship during Makara Sankranti, afterwards he addresses the other as ‘Maharshad’ or ‘Marsad’; if two women tie the friendship lace on each other’s wrist, they call each other ‘Makara’. They don’t utter each other’s name. This goes on for one full year till the next Makara Sankranti. In Eastern Orissa, on many occasions, two friends feed each other ‘Mahaprasad’, the offering made in the famous Jagannath temple of Puri, and continue the friendship for at least one year. Orissa Post talks to some women about their experiences when they tied the friendship knot on Makara Sankranti.

PunjabEdit

In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Maghi. Bathing in a river in the early hours on Maghi is important. Hindus light lamps with sesame oil as this is supposed to give prosperity and drive away all sins. A major mela is held at Sri Muktsar Sahib on Maghi which commemorates a historical event in Sikh history.
Culturally, people dance their famous "bhangra". They then sit down and eat the sumptuous food that is specially prepared for the occasion. It is traditional to eat "kheer", rice cooked in milk and sugarcane juice. It is also traditional to consume khichdi and jaggery. December and January are the coldest months of the year in the PunjabMaghi represents the change of the season to warmer temperatures and increase in daylight.

Rajasthan and West Madhya PradeshEdit

"Makar Sankrati" or "Sankrat" in the Rajasthani language is one of the major festivals in the state of Rajasthan. The day is celebrated with special Rajasthani delicacies and sweets such as pheeni (either with sweet milk or sugar syrup dipped), til-paati, gajak, kheer, ghevar, pakodi, puwa, and til-laddoo.
Specially, the women of this region observe a ritual in which they give any type of object (related to household, make-up or food) to 13 married women. The first Sankranti experienced by a married woman is of significance as she is invited by her parents and brothers to their houses with her husband for a big feast. People invite friends and relatives (specially their sisters and daughters) to their home for special festival meals (called as "Sankrant Bhoj"). People give out many kind of small gifts such as til-gud (jaggery), fruits, dry khichadi, etc. to Brahmins or the needy ones.
Kite flying is traditionally observed as a part of this festival. On this occasion the sky in Jaipur and Hadoti regions is filled with kites, and youngsters engage in contests trying to cut each other's strings.

Sindhi communityEdit

The Sindhi community of India originate from the province of Sindh in Pakistan. The festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Tirmoori which involves parents sending sweet dishes to their daughters.

Tamil NaduEdit

Main article: Thai Pongal
It is a four-day festival in Tamil Nadu:
  • Day 1: Bhogi Pandigai (போகி பண்டிகை)
  • Day 2: Thai Pongal (தை பொங்கல்)
  • Day 3: Maattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்)
  • Day 4: Kaanum Pongal (காணும் பொங்கல்)
The festival is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai.
Bhogi
The first day of festival is Bhogi (போகி). It is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials, by setting them on fire, marking the end of the old and the emergence of the new. In villages there will be a simple ceremony of "Kappu Kattu" (kappu means secure) will be done. The 'neem' leaves are kept along the walls and roof of the houses. This is to eliminate evil forces.
Thai Pongal
The second day of festival is Thai Pongal or simply Pongal. It is the main day of the festival, falling on the first day of the Tamil month Thai which starts with the solar cycle when sun starts moving through the summer solstice. It is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots, which are later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout "பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் (Ponggalo Ponggal)!" and blow the sangu (a conch), a custom practised to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings. Then new boiled rice is offered to the Sun god during sunrise, as a prayer which symbolises thanks to the sun for providing prosperity. It is later served to the people in the house for the ceremony. People prepare savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam and visit each other and exchange greetings.
Maattu Pongal
The third day of festival is Maattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்). It is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmers in agriculture. On this day the cattle are decorated with paint, flowers and bells. They are allowed to roam free and fed sweet rice and sugar cane. Some people decorate the horns with gold or other metallic covers. In some places, Jallikattu, or taming the wild bull contest, is the main event of this day and this is mostly seen in the villages.
Kaanum Pongal
The fourth day of the festival is Kaanum Pongal (காணும் பொங்கல்: the word kaanum means "to view"). During this day people visit their relatives, friends to enjoy the festive season. It is a day to thank relatives and friends for their support in the harvest. It started as a farmers festival, called as Uzhavar Thirunaal in Tamil. Kolam (கோலம்) decorations are made in front of the house during Thai Pongal festival.

Uttar PradeshEdit

The festival is known as Kicheri in Uttar Pradesh and involves ritual bathing. Over two million people gather at their respective sacred places for this holy bathing such as Allahabad and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar in Uttarakhand. If they cannot go in river then they bathe at home. There is a compulsion to bathe in the morning while fasting; first they bathe then they eat sweets such as til ladoo and gud laddo (known as tillava in Bhojpuri). At some places new clothes are worn on this day.
Kite flying in the rooftops of Varanasi
Kite flying is an inevitable part of the festival in Uttar Pradesh, as with many states of India such as Gujarat and Maharashtra. Like other places in India, the references to sweets, til (sesame seeds) and gud (jaggery) are found in the songs sung on this day:
Meethe Gur me mil gaya Til,
Udi Patang aur khil gaye Dil,
Jeevan me bani rahe Sukh aur Shanti,
Mubarak ho aapko Makar-Sankranti.

West BengalEdit

In West Bengal, Sankranti, also known as Poush Sankranti named after the Bengali month in which it falls (last date of that month), is celebrated as a harvest festival Poush Parbon (Bengali: পৌষ পার্বণ). (It falls on 14 January on the Western calendar.) The freshly harvested paddy and the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur (Bengali: খেজুরের গুড়)and Patali (Bengali: পাটালি ) is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and 'khejurer gur' (date palm jaggery) and known as 'Pitha' (Bengali: পিঠে). All sections of society participate in a three-day begins on the day before Sankranti and ends on the day after. The Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped on the day of Sankranti.
In the Himalayan regions of Darjeeling, the festival is as known as Magey Sakrati. It is distinctly associated with the worship of Lord Shiva. Traditionally, people were required to take a bath before sunrise and then commence their pooja. The food that is consumed consists primarily of sweet potatoes and yams.
Millions of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar (the point where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal). Ganga Sagar falls in West Bengal.
In the day of Makar Sankranti Hindu God Dharma is worshiped. And khichurhi or rice is offered to the God as Bhog (ভোগ). The day after Makar Sankranti the first day in the month Magh from Bengali calendar The Goddess Laxmi devi is worshiped. It is called Baharlaxmi Puja as the idol is worshiped in an open place.
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