Makar Sankranti- As the Birds Soar High in the Sky so do our Kites

India, one of the most culturally diverse country in the world. Land where culture changes at every few distance, it is amalgamation of the rich social and cultural heritage of the world. India is known in the world for its diverse culture, traditions and most notably for its festivals that are essential part of the lives of the people. You can hardly find a month in a calendar which is not comprised of any of the festival. Festivals and their celebration are the essential part of the lives and culture of the people of India. Festivals are celebrated all across the nation with same joy and celebrations. Some festivals are region specific, some are pan Indian, some are religious, some are social, and the most important ones are the national festivals. One of the pan Indian festival is the festival of Makar-Sankranti. It is celebrated in many parts of country but with different names. Some celebrate it as a Makar-Sankranti, some as Lohri, some as Pongal. The essence of the celebration is same throughout, the names varies according to the region and reason. In this blog we bring to you a brief description of these festivals and its celebration.

Makar-Sankranti: As the name suggests this festival is dedicated to the Hindu god Surya or the Makar. The uniqueness of this festival is that it is one of the few Hindu festivals based on the solar calendar whereas many of the Hindu festivals are based on the lunar calendar. It marks the first transit in the Makara, which means end of the winter and beginning of the longer days and the Uttarayan period. It comprises of colorful decorations, fairs, kite flying, exchange of a sweet delicacy called TilGul made of sesame seeds and jaggery. During this festival people pray to the sun god for their prosperity and success. People come together and wish each other despite of their ideological and cultural differences.

Uttarayan: People of Gujrat celebrate the Makar-Sankranti as Uttarayan. This is one of the major festival of the people of Gujrat. Uttarayan is celebrated in Gujrat in two phases namely Uttarayan and Vasi-Uttarayan. One of the major attractions of this festival is the kite flying also called as ‘patang’. The kite flying is accompanied by the yelling of words like ‘kaypo chhe’, ‘lapet-lapet’. This festival also marks the celebration with the delicacies like Undhyu and Chikkis.

Lohri: It is the festival celebrated mostly in the northern part of India, especially in the region of Punjab. It coincides with the Hindu festival of Makar-Sankranti. It is celebrated at the night prior to it. Lohri marks the commemoration of the end of the winter season and the commencement of the longer days for the summer. Lohri is celebrated around the bonfire. People collect wood and lit the bonfire. People dance around the bonfire, sing their folksongs, exchange warm wishes and typical Punjabi dishes like Sarso Da Saag, Makke Di Roti, Gajak, Roasted Corn, Groundnut and Jaggery. The Lohri is marked by going to the Fairs or Melas and dancing the traditional dance called Gidda.

Pongal: It is the harvest festival dedicated to Lord Sun. It is celebrated in southern part of India especially in the part of Tamil Nadu. It is a four-day festival according to Tamil calendar. It is celebrated to offer thanks to the god for the successful harvest and asking for his blessings for the coming days. Pongal means celebration and to be more specific it means ‘overflow’. A special sweet dish made of milk, rice and lentils is offered to the god and is then consumed. The four-day festival comprises of Bhogi, Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal, Kaanum Pongal.

Thus, with so many people of diverse religion, culture, traditions and languages, the salad bowl culture of India is the great example to the world.

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