How Makar Sankranti is Celebrated Across India
The New Year celebrations are over, and just as you get back to your daily routine, you may be eagerly looking forward to the first long-weekend of the year, and an important Indian festival, Makar Sankranti. A popular harvest festival, Makar Sankranti is celebrated all over India with great pomp and pride, and it is known by different names in different states.
Typically, Makar Sankranti is celebrated on January 14 or 15. This year, Makar Sankranti 2023 falls on January 14th. The day marks the first day of the sun's transition into the Makara (Capricorn), signalling the end of winter solstice and the start of longer days. The festival, dedicated to the Sun God is special in more than one way because it also signals the harvest season.
Since the festival is celebrated in different regions on the same day, it also epitomises India’s ‘Unity in Diversity.’ On this day, you can see the different customs and traditions of India as people celebrate the festival in their own way. So, if you are intrigued about this beautiful festival, let us look at the celebrations of Makar Sankranti in different parts of India.
In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as ‘Uttarayan’ and it is one of the most-awaited festivals of the year. Obviously, like other Indian festivals, Uttarayan in Gujarat is celebrated on a grand scale.
Unlike other regions in India, the festival is celebrated for two days in Gujarat. The first day is Uttarayan and the second is known as Vale Uttarayan. On the first day, people celebrate the festival by flying kites, and you see colourful kites of all shapes, and forms, also the chants of ‘Kai Po Che’ and ‘E lapet’ reverberate throughout the state.
After participating in an intense Kite flying competition with the friends and family members, the locals enjoy a delicious lunch, and munch the day’s especially, Undhiyu and Chikki. Both the dishes are cooked in almost every Gujarati household to mark the occasion.
If you are planning to visit Gujarat during Makar Sankranti, you can book your stay at Club Mahindra Kensville Golf Resort, one of the most premium resorts in Ahmedabad offered by Club Mahindra and take part in the grand celebrations.
During the festival, you can participate in various special activities at the resort that are not only fun and entertaining but also give you an insight into the rich local culture and traditions.
In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is associated with the harvest of winter crops, and it is celebrated as Lohri. The festival is one of the most celebrated events in the state, especially among the farmers communities who rely on farming for livelihood.
On the night of the Lohri, farmers light a bonfire and perform various rituals to thank the fire God and then perform the traditional Punjabi dance known as Bhangra. Another important part of the Lohri celebration is eating the delicious traditional dish – Kheer, which is made of rice and milk.
Tamilians celebrate Makar Sankranti as Pongal in a grand manner. Unlike other parts of India, in Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti is celebrated for four days, and each day has different religious significance.
The Pongal celebrations start on the night before the actual festival day. On the eve of Pongal, the locals light a bonfire, and burn the old and unused items in the household. This ritual is called Bhogi, and it symbolises replacing the old with new.
Day two is the most important day, where people cook Pongal, a sweet dish made of rice, sugar, ghee and jaggery. The rice used is freshly harvested rice. While cooking the dish, people let the dish come to a boil and spill over the open fire. It is considered a good omen, symbolising a good harvest for the season.
The third day is dedicated to the cattle and people organise ‘Jallikattu’ festival, where the men try to tame a wild bull. It is a grand event that takes place throughout the state, making Tamil Nadu one of the best places to celebrate Makar Sankranti.
The last day is usually spent with family and friends, and people have relatives coming over and they prepare a feast for them.
If you are planning to visit Tamil Nadu to see Makar Sankranti or Pongal celebration, you can head to Ooty, and stay at the Club Mahindra Danish Villa or Club Mahindra Derby Green, the best resorts in Ooty offered by Club Mahindra. During your stay at these resorts, you can enjoy feasting on the special Pongal menu that includes the sweet dish Pongal and many other local delicacies, while chanting ‘Pongal o Pongal’ along with other guests.
As we move to the far east of India to Assam, Makar Sankranti celebrations here have its own charm. Here people enjoy having a Makar Sankranti feast for up to one week, and the festival in this part of India is known as Magh Bihu. As part of the celebration, communities host and play several games, the most popular one being, ‘tekeli-bhonga’ which translates to pot breaking and buffalo fighting.
The locals make rice cakes and laru, a sweet dish made from coconut. The locals invite their friends and relatives home and host a fest in Meji, a makeshift hut that is erected a day before the feast. After the feast is over, they burn down the hut; it is also considered an integral part of the celebration and local tradition.
Makar Sankranti may be known by different names and celebrated in different ways across India but it truly unites the communities and brings people together. It is one of the few festivals that is celebrated all over India and the whole nation revels in the festive spirit.