There are many various ways to celebrate Makar Sankranti in India. All the states have their own unique harvest festivals, which are observed in a variety of ways. Makar Sankranti is a festival celebrated in India, and if you’re planning to attend a celebration in another state, we have some recommendations for you.
The fact that the date of Makar Sankranti is fixed distinguishes it from other Hindu festivals in India. Capricorn is symbolised by Makar, whereas transiting signs are symbolised by Sankranti.
A sankranti occurs every month as the sun moves through a new sign of the zodiac. This year’s “Makar Sankranti” is the country’s first New Year’s celebration to fall on the same day.
On the 14th of January each year, it is a big harvest celebration in India. There are many different ways to celebrate the Hindu event, which is held in practically every part of the country. Localization, culture, and tradition influence how the holiday is observed in each place..
● Delhi and Haryana
Sakrat or Sankranti is regarded as a major festival in Delhi, Haryana, and many neighbouring states.
On this day, ghee churma, halwa, and kheer are specially prepared. Every married woman’s brother pays her a visit and brings her and her husband’s family some warm clothing. It is known as “Sidha.” Traditionally, women used to send gifts to their husbands’ families as part of the “Manana” rite.” The recipient will take a seat in a haweli (main place where men sit together and share hookah). Women visit Haweli to sing folk songs and exchange gifts.
In Amritsar, India, an Indian kitemaker puts the finishing touches on his creations.
Makar Sankranti is known as Maghi in Punjab. In the early morning hours of Maghi, a river bath is a necessity. Hindus light lamps with sesame oil to bring prosperity and to drive away all sins. On Maghi, a major mela commemorates a historical event in Sikh history at Sri Muktsar Sahib.
Students in Chandigarh celebrate the Lohri festival by performing traditional folk dances around a campfire.
The “bhangra” dance is performed by a group of people. They then sit down to enjoy the delectable food that has been specially prepared for the occasion. It is customary to eat “kheer,” which is rice cooked in milk and sugarcane juice. It is also customary to eat khichdi and jaggery. In the Punjab, December and January are the coldest months of the year. Maghi represents the change of seasons, which means warmer temperatures and more daylight.
On Makar Sankranti (मकर संक्रान्ति ) day, people in Maharashtra exchange multicoloured halwa (sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and til-gul laadoo (sweetmeats made from sesame seeds and jaggery). Lunch is served with gulachi poli/puran poli (/ ) (flat bread stuffed with soft/shredded jaggery mixed with toasted, ground til [white sesame seeds]) and some gram flour that has been toasted to golden in pure ghee. People greet one another when sharing til-gul as a sign of friendliness. Til-gul is a way of resolving old enmities and rekindling friendship via the exchange of beautiful words. The importance of sesame seeds is that they keep the body warm and provide good oil, which is required during the winter when the body’s moisture is depleted. Makar Sankranti is a three-day festival in Maharashtra, similar to Andhra Pradesh.
Goa’s celebrations are very similar to those in Maharashtra. Makar Sankranti is celebrated slightly differently in Maharashtra and Goa, with the women in Goa observing Haldi Kumkum.
Makar Sankranti, or Uttarayan, is a two-day festival in Gujarat. The 14th of January is Uttarayan, and the 15th of January is Vasi-Uttarayan (Stale Uttarayan). Gujaratis eagerly await this kite-flying festival known as ‘patang.’ Uttarayan kites are mostly rhombus-shaped with a central spine and a single bow, made of special light-weight paper and bamboo.
Abrasives are frequently used in the string to cut down other people’s kites.
Uttarayan begins in Gujarat in December and lasts until Makar Sankranti. Undhiyu (a spicy baked mix of winter vegetables) and chikkis (made from til (sesame seeds), peanuts, and jaggery) are special festival recipes enjoyed on this day.
The skies appear to be filled with thousands upon thousands of kites in the major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, and Jamnagar as people enjoy two full days of Uttarayan on their terraces. When people cut kites, they yell Gujarati phrases like “kai po che,” “e lapet,” “phirki vet phirki,” and “lapet lapet.”
● Rajasthan and West Madhya Pradesh
One of the most important festivals in the state of Rajasthan is “Makar Sankranti” or “Sankranti” in Rajasthani. Pheeni (either with sweet milk or sugar syrup dipped), til-patti, gajak, kheer, ghevar, pakodi, puwa, and til-ladoo are popular Rajasthani delicacies and sweets on this day.
This region in particular has a ritual where women give household, make-up related objects or food) to 13 married women in the community. When a newlywed couple celebrates their first Sankranti together, it’s a big day for them because they get to spend time with their families. People host special festival meals for friends and relatives (especially their sisters and daughters) (called “Sankrant Bhoj ”). People give small gifts to Brahmins and the needy, such as til-gud (jaggery), fruits, dry khichdi, and so on.
This festival is traditionally marked by kite flying. Young people compete by cutting each other’s kite strings on this particular day in the skies above Jaipur and Hadoti.
● Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, it is a four-day festival. Thai Pongal is the main festival that is celebrated here.
- Day 1: Bhogi Pandigai
- Day 2: Thai Pongal
- Day 3: Mattu Pongal
- Day 4: Kaanum Pongal
As we told you, this festival is celebrated for four days, which begins on the last day of the Tamil month Margazhi and ends on the 3rd day of the Tamil month Thai.
Magh Bihu, also known as Bhogali Bihu, is a harvest festival held in Assam, India, to mark the end of the harvesting season in the month of Maagha (January–February). It is the Assam celebration of Sankranthi, with a week of feasting.
Bonfires and feasts are thrown in honour of the holiday. Every year, young people in Japan prepare and eat their feast in meji (a.k.a. “makeshift huts”) made of bamboo, leaves, and thatch. The following morning, the meiji were burned. They also participate in some of the traditional Assamese pastimes, such as pot-breaking and buffalo fighting, as part of the celebration. Only on January 14th, the only day of Magh Bihu in modern times, do Magh Bihu celebrations commence, which is the last day of “Pooh,” or the month preceding. Uruka (the 28th day of Pooh) is a celebration in which people join together around a bonfire to make food and enjoy each other’s company.
This time of year, the Assamese celebrate Magh Bihu by making rice cakes called by many names such as Shunga Pitha (rice cakes), Til Pitha (coconut cakes), and others.
● Himachal Pradesh
Makar Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji in the Himachal Pradesh district of Shimla. Sankranti, the first day of the month, is referred to as Saaji in Pahari. As a result, this day marks the beginning of the month of Magha.
According to Hindu religious texts, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) on Uttarayani, i.e., the sun becomes ‘Uttarayan’ or begins moving to the north from this day forward. It is said that migratory birds begin returning to the hills on this day, which marks the beginning of the season. It is customary to bathe in the springs or baolis early in the morning on Magha Saaja. Most of this khichdi, which is made from rice, lentils, and grated butter, is shared between neighbours during the day. The festival concludes with singing and Naati (folk dance).
● Kumaon (Uttarakhand)
Makar Sankranti is widely celebrated in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region. An Indian religious text states that the sun enters the zodiac sign of ‘Makara’ (Capricorn) on Uttarayani, or Ghughuti in Kumaon, on the day when it becomes ‘Uttarayan’ or begins to move north. It is said that migratory birds begin returning to the hills on this day, which marks the beginning of the season. On Makar Sankranti, people donate Khichadi (a mixture of pulses and rice), take ceremonial baths in holy rivers, attend Uttarayani fairs, and celebrate the Ghughuti Aur Kala Kauwa festival. During the Kala Kauwa (literal translation: “black crow”) festival, people make sweetmeats out of sweetened flour (flour and gur) deep fried in ghee and shaped into drums, pomegranates, knives, and swords. They are strung together and worn as a necklace, with an orange fixed in the centre. Children wear these necklaces early in the morning and sing “Kala Kauwa” to attract crows and other birds and offer them portions of these necklaces as a token of welcome for all the migratory birds returning from their winter sojourn in the plains.
● Uttar Pradesh
In Uttar Pradesh, the festival is known as Kicheri, and it includes ritual bathing. Thousands of devotees from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand gather at their sacred sites for this holy bathing, including Allahabad, Varanasi, and Haridwar. If they are unable to bathe in the river, they bathe at home. While fasting, there is a strong desire to bathe in the morning; after bathing, they eat sweets such as til ladoo and gud ladoo (known as tillava in Bhojpuri). On this day, some people wear new clothes.
In Uttar Pradesh, as well as many other Indian states, including Gujarat and Maharashtra, kite flying is an unavoidable part of the festival. Sweets, til (sesame seeds), and gud (jaggery) are mentioned in the songs sung on this day, as they are in other parts of India.
As part of naivedya to the deities, Odisian people prepare makara chaula — or uncooked newly harvested rice — as well as other delectable treats like chaas, chai/laia, banana, coconut, and chhena pudding. The onset of winter necessitates a shift in eating habits and the consumption of nourishing and rich foods. As a result, this festival has long held cultural significance. Devotees of the sun god at the great Konark temple are astronomically significant as the sun begins its annual northward swing. According to various Indian calendars, the Sun’s movement changes and the days become longer and warmer from this day forward, so the Sun-God is worshipped as a great benefactor on this day. Many people fast at the start of the day and take a ritual bath.
Additionally, individuals in Western Orissa utilise this occasion to renew their close friendships with their closest friends, which goes beyond the customary festivities.
● West Bengal
As part of the Poush Parbon harvest festival, Bengalis celebrate Sankranti as Poush Sankranti, after the Bengali month in which it falls (It falls on 14 January on the Western calendar.) Freshly harvested paddy and date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur and Patali are used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets known as ‘Pitha’, which are made with rice flour, coconut, milk, and ‘khejurer gur’ (date palm jaggery). On the day before and the day after Sankranti, the entire community comes together to celebrate for three days. On the day of Sankranti, the Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped.
In preparation for the one-day Makar Sankranti festival on India’s Sagar Island, south of Kolkata, a Hindu pilgrim prays in the Ganges River. The festival is known as Magey Sakrati in the Himalayan regions of Darjeeling. It is strongly associated with Lord Shiva worship. Traditionally, people were expected to bathe before sunrise and then begin their pooja. Sweet potatoes and yams are the most commonly consumed foods.
Millions of people bathe in locations such as Ganga Sagar (the point where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal).
On Makar Sankranti, Hindu God Dharma is worshipped. As Bhog, khichuri or rice is offered to the God. The Goddess Laxmi devi is worshipped on the day after Makar Sankranti, the first day of the Bengali month Magh. Because the idol is worshipped in public, it is known as Baharlaxmi Puja.
● Jharkhand and Bihar
The festival is observed on the 14th and 15th of January in Bihar and Jharkhand. Makar Sankranti, Sakraat, or Khichdi is observed on January 14th (in local dialects). The harvest season is marked by bathing in rivers and ponds and feasting on seasonal fare in the same way as in other parts of the country. Chura, gur (jaggery), sweets made of til (sesame seeds) such as tilgul, tilwa, maska, etc., curd, milk, and seasonal vegetables are among the delicacies. Kite festivals are held, albeit on a small scale.
Makraat (in some parts of the state) is celebrated on January 15th, when people eat special khichdi (dal-rice replete with cauliflower, peas and potatoes).
One of the most important is the festival. A typical day begins with til (sesame seeds) worship and burning, followed by a meal of “dahi-chuda,” which is beaten rice served with dahi and a special version of red pumpkin cooked with sugar, salt, and a little bit of water (avalakki in Kannada). The meal is usually served with tilkut and lai (laddu made of til, chuda and rice). Women traditionally prepare the festive meal in groups. Because the meal is heavy, most people skip lunch on the day and instead spend their time socialising and participating in kite flying festivals.
There are three dishes that are traditionally served with Khichdi at night: consisting of rice, papad, ghee, and “achaar,” which refers to the “roasted vegetable” that goes into the khichdi. Because such a rich khichdi is typically made on this festival, it is often referred to colloquially as “Khichdi.”
This is the Suggi, or harvest festival, celebrated by farmers in Karnataka. On this auspicious day, girls dress up in new clothes and visit their loved ones with a Sankranti offering in a plate, which they then exchange with other families. This is known as the “Ellu Birodhu” ritual. “Ellu-Bella” is the name given to this concoction. The plate includes sugar candy moulds in various shapes, as well as a piece of sugarcane. Eat the mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good,” says the Kannada proverb “ellu bella thindu olle maathadi.” This festival honours the sugarcane harvest in these regions because of the abundance of the crop. Ellu Bella and Ellu Unde are popular gifts given by Karnataka women, but they’re not the only things they exchange. Bananas, sugarcane, red berries, haldi, and kumkum are also common.
In some parts of Karnataka, a newly married woman must give away bananas to married women (muthaide/sumangali) for five years beginning with the first year of her marriage and increasing the number of bananas in multiples of five. Some households also give out red berries known as “Yale Chi Kai” in conjunction with the above. Kite flying with community members is a tradition in north Karnataka. Another popular activity for women during Sankranti is rangoli drawing in groups
The display of cows and bulls in colourful costumes in an open field is an important ritual. Cows are dressed up for the occasion and paraded through the streets. They’re also designed to cross a fire. This ritual is known as “Kichchu Haayisuvudu” in rural Karnataka.
In Kerala, Makar Sankranti is observed at Sabarimala, where the Makara Jyothi is visible, followed by the Makaravilakku celebrations.