Saturday, January 13, 2018

Makar Sankranti: The Fascinating Festival Of The Harvest


In today's world, there is so much of pressure and monotony in everyone's life that once in a while we all want to escape from it, isn’t it?.  And what’s the better way to do so other than celebrating festivals?  Whether it is celebrated religiously or secularly, festivals are always joyful occasion which adds color to the other dull life, and when it comes to India then it is not just arbitrarily called the land of festivals.  In India, there are about 22 major languages and more than 1000 minor languages and dialects.  It is a multi-cultural country which reflects in the festivals of India, too.  With so much diversity embedded within one culture, it is quite easy to understand why India is known as a “Land of Festivals”.

Flying kites in the sky

In every 15 days, there is a celebration of festivals here in India; some are celebrated in the whole country while others are celebrated only in some part of the country.  The numerous and diverse festivals that are held throughout the year offer a unique way of seeing Indian culture at its best.  In India, there are few festivals that are celebrated on the same day, but in different ways and one of such festival is “Makar Sankranti.”

Makar Sankranti is one of the major and fascinating festivals that is associated with the harvest and is celebrated with a lot of zeal.  This festival is famous for its sesame sweets and kite flying.  On this day, the sun enters the zodiac of Capricorn (Makara in Hindi).  Hence the word 'Makar' is in the name.  And the other word in the name, 'Sankranti,' means the movement of the sun from one to another zodiac sign. Therefore, the name of the festival means the “movement of the sun into Capricorn.”  It is believed that after this transition of the sun, the days grow longer and nights become shorter till the next equinox.

Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great pomp and gaiety, and show across varied states in myriad ways.  This festival is celebrated in UP with the name of “Khicharai or Makar Sankranti;” in Punjab, it is referred as “Maghi”; in Gujarat it is known as “Uttarayan;” in Assam, it is called as Bihu;” in southern part of India, it is called as “Pongal.  While in the rest parts of the country including Maharashtra, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Bengal this festival is known as Makar Sankranti.

Khicharai:


Sankranti is popularly known as Khicharai in UP.  People of this part celebrate this festival by following the ritual of taking a dip in the holy rivers.  Lakhs of devotees take bath in the sacred river on this occasion.  They consider this ritual very auspicious for the well-being of human beings.  It is believed that by taking the holy bath on this day, people’s sins are washed away and they are then sanctified.  Fairs are also held on this occasion.  As the name of the festival, the most prominent thing is the food “Khichdi”(this is a mix of rice with different kinds of lentils) which is served with many condiments like different kinds of ‘bhartas’ (mash vegetable with spices), pickles, lavish dollops of ghee (clarified butter), papad (Papadum) and raita (Indian condiment).

Maghi:


Maghi is one of the most awaited festivals of Punjab and it is one of the seasonal gatherings of the Sikhs.  They celebrate this festival by performing religious rituals in all the Sikh Gurudwaras (temple).  People take a dip in the holy rivers.  Fairs are conducted at many places on Maghi.  In some parts of Punjab, it is also traditional to eat khichdi, consume jaggery and raw sugarcane.  There is another festival known as Lohri which falls a day before “Makar Sankranti in north India, particularly popular in the Punjab region.  Lohri is celebrated by lightening a bonfire in open field or courtyard of houses.  During this winter festival, the lighting of a bonfire is an ancient tradition.

Uttarayan:


Among numerous festivals in Gujarat, Uttarayan is considered as one of the biggest and grandest festivals.  People celebrate this day by flying kites in the sky.  They gather together in field, open space, and on the rooftops and terrace of houses to fly kites.  In fact, many cities in Gujarat organize kite competition in which people cut the string of the nearby “kite-flyers” and bring their kites down.  People enjoy competing with each other.  During the festival, special foods such tilli ke laddoos (sweets made from sesame seeds), chikkis (sweets made from groundnuts and jaggery), and jalebis (sweets) are distributed among all.

Pongal:


Pongal is the festival which is celebrated mostly in the southern part of India.  The term “Pongal” is derived from Tamil word which means “to boil”.  On this occasion, rice is boiled in milk and then it is symbolically served to God as a means of showing gratitude.  Following that, the boiled rice is served to cow and then to all the family members.  Some of the customs which are a must on this festival are cleaning the house and decorating them with Kolams, and wearing new clothes.  During this festival celebration, people get themselves involved in eating sugar canes, dancing, exchanging gifts, and buffalo-taming contests.

Magh Bihu:


Magh Bihu, also known as Bhogali Bihu, is the second largest festival of Assam.  The word “Bhogali” is derived from the root Bhog which means “enjoying the food.”  On this day, people of Assam make cakes of rice and sweets of coconut.  The festival is marked by a bonfire.  Community feast and cultural programmes are observed all throughout the night.  Numerous traditional sports such as buffalo-fight, bird-fight (cock, hen, nightingale etc), and egg-fight are played in villages throughout the state for enjoyment.  Enormous crowds gather around these venues to enjoy the sport.  There is festivity all around.


Furthermore, there are few things that are not only limited to particular states only.  Be it having khichdi or tilgur, flying kites.  The frolic and fun that accompanies kite flying make it a quite popular tradition even today throughout India.  Nobody gets exhausted by flying kites from dawn to dusk.  The entire sky becomes so colorful with multi-colored kites of several shapes and sizes.  Foods like khichdi, til (sesame), gur (jaggery), and groundnut are added to the extensive menu.  As a token of goodwill, these sweets are usually accompanied by the saying, "Til-gur ghya aani god god bola", which means “have Tilgur and talk sweetly.” Since this festival falls in winter, eating tilgur is regarded beneficial to health as they are warm foods.

So this is how Makar Sankranti is celebrated throughout the country.  On this day, all around, there is an atmosphere of merriment and an air of festivities.  The harmony of different traditions and cultures is best experienced during festivals in India.

Wishing you all a very happy “Makar Sankranti.”  May this festival fill your home with happiness and positivity.

Stay Blessed, Be Happy...!! :-)
Preeti


15 comments:

  1. India is on my travel list! I find your country absolutely fascinating and I hope I'll be able to visit soon!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This looks like an absolutely wonderful place to visit! I have seen such gorgeous photographs of India and I hope so much to be blessed to visit one day . Shell

    ReplyDelete
  3. One day I plan to travel to India, it looks like the most amazing place with so much culture and amazing things to see. It's up there on the top of my travel wish list!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I need to visit India, so much culture and great experiences. I have to start getting on with my bucket list asap.

    ReplyDelete
  5. India seems like a such special and different place to visit. I think that you need at least a month to travel and be able to see a part of their culture and architecture.

    ReplyDelete
  6. India ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ is such a beautiful place I wil love to go soon . Thank you for this ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

    ReplyDelete
  7. I try to attend a lot of festivals here. I try to especially go to the cultural events. Every 15th would keep me busy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for such a wonderful post and spreading information about this festival.
    Yesterday I was flying kites and enjoyed a lot with my family members. Today again I am planning to go & fly the kites. I love this festival.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Festivals are really fun. Wow. Twice a month. That must be exciting. Pongol soundslike a nice time.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My husband would love a festival full of kite flying. This sounds like there are so many wonderful festivals to attend.

    ReplyDelete
  11. hiii
    wow you paint quite a picture with your writing! i have always been fascinated with the indian culture as i have grown up alongside the indian community. hopefully one day i'll be able to experience it first hand xx

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very well covered....
    Thanks for such a nice post

    ReplyDelete
  13. The festival is celebrated in so many parts of India. It must be an important one. It's an honour for me to have discovered this!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What lovely traditions you describe! The festivals in our cultures are a beautiful way to celebrate our own heritage and a wonderful thing to share with people from other cultures, too!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow! I love this, so much insight and info about the festival and how it's celebrated between the different groups of people. The cultural diversity is outstanding, even in one country the same thing can be known as different things and celebrated in different ways! x

    ReplyDelete

"Silver Lining On The Dark Clouds!"

Hello Everyone, Hope you all are in the pink of your health! I know you must have seen ups and downs in your life.  Isn’t it?  I...