Its time for the celebration and it is the time of the harvest season to mark Pongal and Makar Sankranti, known as the harvest festivals. These festivals signify the end of the winter solstice where the long winter nights in India will end and the long sunny days will begin. Celebrated on 14 January every year, Pongal is celebrated in South India while Makar Sankranti is celebrated in North India.
Pongal And Makar Sankranti:
Pongal is popular in Tamil Nadu where the four-day-long festival is all about thanking God for the harvested crop and praying for future prosperity. The festival begins with the Bhodi day and prayers are offered to Lord Indra. On the second day, religious prayers are offered to Lord Surya (Sun) and Pongal is cooked at homes, made from rice and pulses.
The third day is the Mattu Pongal when cattle, farming equipment, tractors, etc. are decorated and worshipped. The last day is the Kanya Pongal when birds are prayed to and they are fed cooked rice. Women of the houses are seen preparing kolams that is the designs are made at the front porches of the house using chalk, flowers, colours etc. Sweets are distributed and delicacies are cooked that fill the aroma in the air. The senior members of the families are seen indulging in cooking. There is a tradition of preparing rice pudding or the Pongal at home when water is boiled in the pot, then a member of the family puts a handful of rice in it thrice. Delicacies like chakkarai (brown cane sugar), Katkandu (sugar candy), coconut or cow’s milk, green gram (payaru), cashew nuts, raisins, and cardamom. The meal is served in a banana leaf as the custom and prayers are offered to thank nature, sun and farmers.
Similarly, the harvest season is celebrated as Makar Sankranti in the Northern parts of the country where farmers celebrate embrace the sunny days ahead and getting new crops. People are seen flying kites on the terraces and open areas. Kids and adults both seem overjoyed and the entire community comes together to celebrate the festival. Makar Sankranti is the day of ‘til-gur’ when sesame and jaggery laddoos or chikkis are either made at home or bought from the market.
Goodie Grocer – Makar Sankranti is also associated with the beginning of the Kumbha Mela in Uttar Pradesh, India. Whereas in Kerala, the pilgrimages of Shabrimala ends on this day of Pongal. Also, it is celebrated as Lohri in the state of Punjab where the bonfire is lit during the night.
It is considered as the holy festival and there is a practice of taking a holy dip in the sacred rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, Krishna, Cauvery and Godavari. It is believed that bathing in the holy rivers washes away the sins.