Ethnic Traditions of Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is celebrated every year on January 14 all over India following the Hindu Solar Calendar.  The date remains same every year and is celebrated across different states in their unique ways.

This is a festival which celebrated across the entire country as it marks the beginning of the harvest season.  Only things that differ a bit are the food and some customs.

In Punjab, this day is celebrated as Lohri. People offer sugarcane juice, jaggery and sesame seeds to each other. A huge holi (bonfire) is lit in which rice and sweets are offered. People dance to the beat of Bhangra with full fervor. Kheer is eaten on this day.

In Gujarat, kite flying forms an integral part of this festival.  People relish Undhiyu, a spicy dish made of mixed vegetables, chikkis made of jaggery, peanuts, and til. In the eastern state of Assam, Makar Sankranti is called Bhogali Bihu. People create makeshift huts from bamboo, leaves, and thatch called Meji near a river. They sing Bihu songs, beat drums and play games. The following morning, they take a bath and then burn the huts. They pray and throw betelnuts in the river.

In Bihar and Jharkhand, the traditional name for the festival is Sakraat or Khichdi.(as Khichdi is made in a very rich and elaborate manner on this festival.).  They relish Khichdi made of rice, papad, ghee, and pickle. In West Bengal, Poush Sankranti is celebrated on this day. Sweets made from jaggery is eaten on this day. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped.  The Tamil month of Thai begins on Makar Sankranti, known as Surya Pongal. Beautiful Kolams (rangolis) adorn outside the homes.

In Maharashtra, people exchange til-gul ladoos and multicolored halwa (sugar granules) saying ‘Til-gul ghya goad goad bola’. The til-gul ladoos are made of sesame seeds. They also prepare gulachi(jaggery) poli or Puran Poli and is usually offered during the lunchtime.

One of the traditions that many people follow is to take a dip at Triveni Sangam, which is a confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati, at Prayag.  People indulge in a lot of good food, music, dance and festivities on this day.

Guest Writer: Ritwika Mutsuddi

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