How Makar Sankranti is Celebrated in 7 Different States in India

While festivals like ‘Diwali’ are celebrated across India with great joy and celebration, “Makar Sankranti” has great cultural, historical and spiritual significance, which is only enhanced by the sheer variety it takes in a country rich in diversity.

 

Various Names of Sankranti in India

 

Sankranti is celebrated in almost all parts of India with distinct names. Here are some examples.

  • Thai Pongal (Tamilnadu)
  • Uttarayan (Gujarat)
  • Lohri (Punjab)
  • Poush sôngkrānti (Bengal)
  • Suggi Habba (Karnataka)
  • Makara Chaula (Odisha)
  • Maghi Sankrant (Maharashtra and Haryana)
  • Magh/Bhogali Bihu (Assam)
  • Shishur Saenkraat (Kashmir)
  • Khichdi Parv (UP and Bihar)

Is there any other Indian festival that has such variety in just the name?

 

Why is Makar Sankranti Celebrated?

 

Makar Sankranti marks the first day of the sun's transit into Makara (Capricorn zodiac sign), marking the end of winter and the beginning of warmer and longer days. If Sankranti Chaturthi falls on Tuesday, it is called “Angarki Chaturthi” and is considered highly auspicious.

Makara Sankranti is the only Indian festival that is celebrated according to solar cycles, while most festivals follow the lunar cycle of the Hindu calendar. Hence, it almost always falls on the same Gregorian date every year (14th January), and rarely does the date shift by a day or so.

 

Common Rituals of Makar Sankranti

 

Sankranti is celebrated usually for 3 to 4 days, with each day having a set of rituals associated with it.

  • Kite flying - The sky is filled with colourful kites during the day and sky lanterns at night.
  • Folk songs and dances around bonfires, which is called “Bhogi” in Andhra Pradesh, “Lohri” in Punjab and “Meji” in Assam.
  • Harvesting of crops like new paddy and sugar cane.
  • People bathe in holy rivers, especially the Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri. This is believed to wash off past sins.
  • The offering of prayers for success and prosperity to the Sun god, who is regarded as the symbol of divinity and wisdom.
  • Some of the world's largest pilgrimages like “Kumbha Mela”, “Gangasagar Mela” and “Makara Mela” are held.
  • Exchange of food made with jaggery and til (sesame seeds) that keeps the body warm and provides oil, which is needed as winter dries up the moisture from the body.

 

1. Maharashtra

People celebrate Makara Sankranti in Maharashtra by exchanging til-gud as tokens of goodwill. People greet each other "तिळगुळ घ्या, आणि गोड-गोड बोला (til-gud ghyaa, aani goad-goad bola)" meaning, ‘Accept these sweets and utter sweet words.’ The underlying thought is to forgive and forget the past ill-feelings, resolve the conflicts, speak sweetly and remain friends. Women come together and perform a special 'Haldi-Kumkum' ceremony.

2. Gujarat

Makar Sankranti is known as “Uttarayan” in Gujarat and is celebrated for two days. The first day is Uttarayan, and the next day is Vasi-Uttarayan (Stale Uttarayan). The Gujarati people celebrate it with -

  • “Patang” - kites,
  • “Undhiyu” - a spicy curry made with winter vegetables, and
  • “Chikkis” - sweets made with til (sesame), peanuts and jaggery. They are a special festival recipe savoured on this day.

The sky is filled with kites as people enjoy two full days of Uttarayan on their terraces. You can hear loud voices screaming "kaypo chhe", "e lapet", "phirki vet phirki" and "lapet", when the kite is cut. And that reminds you of the famous film song –

“Dheel de dheel dede re bhaiya uss patang ko dheel de

Jaisi hi masti mein aaye, uss patang ko kheench de….

Hey... kaipoche, ay lapet….. Teree patang toh gayee kam se”

3. Andhra Pradesh

Makara Sankranti is celebrated in Andhra Pradesh for three days.

  • Day 1 - Bhogi Panduga, when people throw away old items into the Bhogi (bonfire).
  • Day 2 - Pedda Panduga, meaning ‘Big Festival,’ is celebrated with prayers, new clothes, and by inviting guests for feasts. The entrance of the house is decorated with “muggu” designs, i.e. rangoli patterns, filled with colours, flowers, and “gobbemma” (small, hand-pressed piles of cow dung).
  • Day 3 - Kanuma, is very special for farmers. They worship and showcase their cattle that symbolises prosperity. Cockfighting was also held earlier, but now it is banned.
  • Day 4 – On Mukkanuma, farmers offer prayers to the elements such as soil, rain, and fire for helping the harvest. People eat meat delicacies on the last day.

4. Punjab

Makar Sankranti in Punjab takes on vibrancy, dance, and colours.

  • Lohri is celebrated the night before Sankranti or Maghi. The people fondly sing the famous folk song “Sunder mundriye, ho!” and perform “Giddha” , a folk dance by women and “Bhaṅgṛā” by men. They dress in bright colours and dance in a circle around the bonfire.
  • On Maghi, groups of children move from door to door, singing the folk-song: "Dulla Bhatti ho! Dulle ne dhi viyahi ho! Ser shakar pai ho!" (Dulla married his daughter off and gave a kilo of sugar as a marriage gift).
  • Savouries like gur rewri, popcorns, and peanuts are exchanged.
  • Farmers start their financial new year on the day after Maghi.

5. Karnataka

Makara Sankranti is celebrated in Karnataka with a ritual called "Ellu Birodhu” where women exchange “Ellu Bella” (regional delicacies made using freshly cut sugarcane, sesame seeds, jaggery, and coconut) with at least 10 families. At this time, this Kannada saying is popular - "ellu bella thindu olle maathadi" meaning 'eat the mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good.’

Farmers celebrate as “Suggi” or ‘harvest festival’ and decorate their bulls and cows in colourful costumes. Farmers jump over fire along with their bulls, in a ritual called "Kichchu Haayisuvudu."

6. Kerala

Makar Sankranti is celebrated in Kerala as thousands throng to see the Makara Vilakku (flame on Ponnambalamedu hill) near the Sabarimala temple when the Makara Jyothi, the celestial star appears in the sky.

The belief is that Lord Ayyappa Swami shows his presence in the form of this celestial lighting and blesses his devotees.

7. Bihar and Jharkhand

On the first day, people bathe in rivers and ponds and feast upon seasonal dishes (made with tilgud) as a celebration of a good harvest. Kite flying is, again, something to look forward too.

The second day is celebrated as Makraat, when people relish special khichdi (lentil-rice, replete with cauliflower, peas and potatoes), which is served with chokha (roasted vegetable), papad, ghee and achaar.

Makar Sankranti is a festival that makes you look forward to kites, sweets made with sesame seeds and jaggery, prayers, harvest, bonfires, and longer, warmer days. Witness this diverse celebration across the country and let us know your unique Makar Sankranti experience in the comments section below.