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Makar Sankranti-Festival of Kites-Fairs and Festivals in
Makar Sankranti is
celebrated with fervour all over India though in different names and
forms. It is considered as the most auspicious day by the Hindus.
The Makar Sankranti festival marks the day when the sun begins its
northward journey and enters the sign of Makar (the Capricorn) from
the Tropic of Cancer. In other words, the sun moves from Dakshinayana
(south) to Uttarayana (north). The day falls on the 14th of January
every year according to the Solar Calendar.
On this day people take a holy dip at Prayag and Ganga Sagar and
worship Sun. The tradition of kite flying adds zeal to the festival.
Makar Sankranti festival holds special significance according to the
solar calendar as the day and night are of exactly equal duration on
this day. For the people of northern hemisphere, the northward path of
the sun marks the period when the sun is getting closer to them. This
signifies that the days will get longer and warmer after Makar
The importance of the day was noted even by the Aryans who celebrated
the auspicious day as a festival. Also, an episode from the great epic
Mahabharata shows that people in early times marked the day as
auspicious. Warrior-hero Bhishma Pitamah even after being wounded in
the Mahabharata war lingered on till Uttarayan set in. Death on this
day is set to bring Moksha or salvation for the deceased.
The festival of Makar Sankranti is highly regarded by the Hindus from
North to down South. The day is known by various names and a variety
of traditions are witnessed as one explores the festival in different
In Uttar Pradesh, Sankrant is called 'Khichiri'. Taking a dip at the
confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Sangam,
Allahabad is considered auspicious on the day.
In Punjab, the eve of Makar Sankranti is celebrated as 'Lohri' in
which bonfires are lit and people make merry. The following day, which
is Sankrant is celebrated as 'Maghi'. The Punjabi's dance their famous
Bhangra dance till they get exhausted.
In Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh the festival is known as 'Sukarat'
or 'Sakarat' and is celebrated with great pomp merriment accompanied
by lot of sweets.
While in Bengal, a big fair is held at Ganga Sagar where the river
Ganga enters the sea.
In Gujarat, there is a custom of giving gifts to relatives. The
Gujarati Pundits on this auspicious day grant scholarships to students
for higher studies in astrology and philosophy. Kite flying is also
associated with this festival in a big way and has become an
internationally well-known event.
In Maharashtra, there is a custom to exchange a sweet preparation
called 'til-polis' as a token of love. Besides, married women are
invited for a get-together called, 'Haldi-Kumkoo' and given gifts of
any utensil, purchased by the woman of the house.
Down South, Sankranti festival is known by the name of 'Pongal'. The
festival gets its name from the surging of rice boiled in a pot of
milk. It is very popular particularly amongst farmers. On this day,
people worship the Sun.
It is also a big event for the Tamils and the people of Andhra
Pradesh. The Telugus call makar sankranti as 'Pedda Panduga', meaning,
'big festival'. The event is celebrated for four days. The first day
is called 'Bhogi', the second day, 'Sankranti', the third day, 'Kanuma'
and the fourth day, 'Mukkanuma'.