Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is a big harvest festival held all across India. It is organized when the Sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. It happens in the Indian month Poush or according to western calendar in the mid-January. Makar Sankranti is celebrated on the 14th of January. It is the festival that honours the Sun God who is the symbol of someone divine and wise.

The day before the Makar Sankranti is also important. It is called Bhogi. It is the day of personal changes from old to new. Lot of sweets are made.

Mid-January is the time when northwestern monsoon stops in the south of India. The festival signify the start of harvest. The date of this festival also marks the start of time where all Hindu rituals can be performed in every family.

The way the festival is celebrated varies from state to state. The state of Maharashtra is located in the west of the country. People there use type of sugar known as the jaggery to make various sweets. Jaggery is chosen as it is harvested during the festival.

Tilgul
Tilgul

Great example of sweets prepared for the occasion is a type of sweetmeat called tilgul. It is traditionally exchanged between people as a symbol of goodwill. People say “til-gul ghya, god god bula” (“except this tilguls and speak sweet words”).

Also in Mahrashtra there are traditional meetings of married women called “Haldi-Kumkum”. They are dressed in black saris or black dresses. The woman who organizes the meeting gives different presents to all the participants.

In Maharashtra, Gujarat and some other parts of India people celebrate the Makar Sankranti by making kites. Kites are sort of symbols of their wish to reach the God. There are certain communities where cock fights are part of the festival.

Let's now move to the north of India. In the state of Uttar Pradesh people traditionally perform holy baths in the Ganges. According to local belief this bath enables salvation (moksha) from all bad things done in the past. Makar Sankranti in Uttar Pradesh has its humanitarian side. People there give dish called Khichdi to the poor. This nutritious dish is made with rice, lentils, cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, bay leaf, cumin, turmeric powder, salt and oil.

The day after Makar Sankranti is dedicated to animals. Young girls feed cows, birds and fish. This act symbolizes value of sharing.