Makar Sankranti celebration in India is dedicated to the Surya (sun) deity. It is celebrated annually on a fixed date of 14 January. This is the first day of the migration of the sun into Makara (Capricorn), which represents the end of the month or the end of the winter season and the beginning of a new harvest season. A shared cultural practice found among Hindus from different parts of India is making sticky, bound sweets especially from sesame (til) and a base of sugar such as jaggery (gud, gur). This kind of sweetness is a sign of being together in peace and joy, given the individuality and discrepancies between individuals. For most parts of India, this time thus means a period of socialization and families enjoying the company of each other, sharing around bonfires and taking care of the cattle.
Significance and Beliefs
Makar Sankranti Festival is celebrated across the country in different ways. While Makar Sankranti has scientific significance, there are religious beliefs behind celebrating this festival. Mythology is also a justification for this festival to be celebrated. This festival is believed to be celebrated for the meeting of the father Sun and son Saturn as per Indian astrology. it is assumed that Lord Surya himself meets his son Shani on this day and goes to his home. That’s the reason Makar Sankranti is known for this special day.
According to scriptures, the river Ganga arrived on Earth on the day of Makar Sankranti. This is the reason why on this day bathing in the river ‘ Ganges’ is considered of great importance. Bathing is believed to result in past sins being either merited or absolved. They also pray to the gods and praise them for their achievements and well-being.
It was also believed that on the day of this special occasion Makara Sankranti the Hindu lord Vishnu, declaring the end of the war by stopping the Asuras on the day of Makar Sankranti, had placed the heads of all the Asuras under the Mandar peak. So this day is also seen as the culmination of sins and misery, good deeds always win.
Other beliefs, Gangaji preceded Bhagiratha on Makar Sankranti’s day and went over to the ocean passing through Kapil Muni’s ashram. It is said that on this special day Bhagiratha had given it to his ancestors, who brought the Ganges to the earth. On this day the Ganga was incorporated into the sea after acknowledging his surrender
Makar Sankranti celebration in India is called by various names in different regions of the country
Makar Sankranti-related festivities are known by different names, such as Makara Sankranti (Suggi Habba, Makara Sankramana) in Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Goa, and Andra Pradesh, West Bengal (also called Poush sangranti), Maghi (preceded by Lohri) by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs, Magh Bihu by Assamese, Sukarat in central India, and Thai Pongal by Tamils.
a day before Makar Sankranti is called Bhogi which is commonly celebrated in all parts of India. For the farmers of Karnataka, this is called suggi or harvest festival. The show of cows and bulls in colorful costumes in an open field is an important ritual to be followed and these cows are decorated for this occasion and are trained to cross the fire. In rural Karnataka this ritual is traditional and is called “Kichchu Haayisuvudu.and on this special day, girls visit there near and dear ones home wearing new clothes with the offering of Sankranti plate exchanging with friends and families. There is a saying in Kannada “ellu bella thindu olle maathadi” that means ‘Take Sweet, Be Sweet & Always Talk Sweet’.
Andhra Pradesh & Telangana
In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana the festival, Sankranti is celebrated for four days:
- Day 1 – Bhoghi
Makara Sankranti’s day before is called Bhoghi (Bhoghi). This is when people abandon things that are old and ruined things and focus on new things that cause change or transformation. In the early hours, people light a bonfire
- Day 2 – Makara Sankranti
On the second day, they make a beautiful rangoli or “muggu” in Telugu on the ground in front of their home and wear a new dress, offer traditional foods and pray god for wellbeing
- Day 3 – Kanuma
The day after Makara Sankranti the kingdom of the animals and especially the cows are remembered. Girls feed the animals, the fish, and the birds as a sharing symbol.
People exchange multicolored halwa (sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and til-gul laadoo (sweet prepared from sesame seeds and jaggery) in Maharashtra on Makar Sankranti. Gulachi poli / puran poli toasted to golden in pure ghee, are prepared for lunch. While exchanging til-gul as goodwill tokens, people greet one another 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 til-gul’s exchange is to forget past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to talk sweetly and stay friends.
Bihar and Jharkhand
It is celebrated in local dialects as Makar Sankranti or Sakraat or Khichdi on January 14. The same has the other part of the country do people take baths in holy rivers and pleasant harvest celebration. In some other parts of the state on 15 January, Makraat celebrated and people enjoy special khichdi (dal-rice full of cauliflower, peas and potatoes)
Punjab and Haryana
Lohri is being celebrated in Haryana and Punjab one day before Makar Sankranti on 13th January. People gather around the bonfire at night and throw til, puffed up rice & popcorns into the bonfire flames. The bonfire is provided with prayers for wealth & prosperity
This festival is being celebrated as Pongal for four days on the occasion of Makar Sankranti at Tamil Nadu.
- Day 1: Bhogi Pandigai
- Day 2: Thai Pongal
- Day 3: Maattu Pongal
- Day 4: Kaanum Pongal
Makar Sankranti is called Uttarayan in Gujarati is a big festival that lasts for two days in the state of Gujrat – 14 January is Uttarayan & 15 January is Vasi-Uttarayan.
Gujarati people are looking forward to flying kites, called ‘ Patang, ‘ at this festival. Uttarayan kites are made of special and bamboo and lightweight paper and are mostly shaped like some kind of rhombus with the main spine and a single bow. In Gujarat, people start enjoying Uttarayan from December to Makar Sankranti. chikkis (made of til (sesame seeds), Undhiyu and, peanuts and jaggery are the special festival recipes that have been cherished this day.
“Hope the rising sun on Makara Sankranti fills your life with abundant joy and property”