Sanktrati brings lots of my childhood memories. In childhood days, I used to get a new dress for the festival which used to be silk blouse and skirt. I just loved it. Then on that day, we used to get up early take bath and do pooja. There will be yummy food, which includes, pongal, avarekaalu sambhar, rice, rasam, sweet potato sabji, papad, pickle. We were just tired of eating.
In the evening, we used to get dress up and carry a bag which has “Ellu Bella” Packet (the Packet contains, White sesame seeds, Jaggery, roasted ground nut, chopped dry coconut) along with Sakkare Achu (It is made up of Sugar candy) and sugarcane. We used to go to all the neighbours and hand over these things to them. This ritual was called “Ellu Birodu”. It was lots of fun in childhood days, as we used to put competition as who will go to maximum houses.
This Sankranti is celebrated all over the country, in different names and in different rituals.
The festival, Sankranti is celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh as below:
• Day 1 – Bhogi
• Day 2 – Makara Sankranti (Pedda Panduga)
• Day 3 – Kanuma
• Day 4 – Mukkanuma
The first day of festival is Bhogi. At dawn people light a bonfire with wooden logs, other solid-fuels and wooden furniture at home home that are no longer useful. In many families, infants and children (usually less than three years old) are showered with fruit called “Regi Pandlu”, that is the Indian jujube fruit. It is believed that doing this would protect the children from evil eye, called “Dishti” (from Sanskrit Drishthi: sight). The second day is Makara Sankranti also called “Pedda Panduga”, which literally means “the big festival”, when everyone wears new clothes, pray to God, and make offerings of traditional food to elders in the family tree who died. Kanuma Panduga is not as widely celebrated, but is an integral part of the Sankranti culture. Mukkanuma is famous among the non-vegetarians of the society.
People in Coastal Andhra do not eat any meat or fish during the first three days of the festival, and do so only on the day of Mukkanuma, where as people in Telangana region observe only the first two days as part of the festival and eat any meat or fish on Makara Sankranti (Pedda Panduga}, the second day of the festival. For this festival all families prepare Ariselu, Appalu (a sweet made of Jaggery and Pumpkin Fruit) and make offerring to God. Without this, the festival is in-complete.
This festival is celebrated in almost every village with adventurous games in South India. Whether it is the cock fights in Andhra, Bull fighting in Tamil Nadu or Elephant Mela in Kerala, there is huge amount of illegal betting but the so called “tradition” continues to play a major role in the festival. Another notable feature of the festival in South India is the Haridas who moves around begging for rice wishing luck
In Assam, the festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu.
In Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh this festival of Sankrant is known by the name ‘Sakarat’ and is celebrated with great pomp & merriment accompanied by a lot of sweets.
In the coastal regions, it is a harvest festival dedicated to Lord Indra.
This is one of the major festivals in the state of Gujarat. It is a two day festival here.
1. 14th January is Uttarayan
2. 15th January is Vasi-Uttarayan(stale Uttaryan)
Gujaratis keenly await this festival to fly kites. In India the generic name for a kite is ‘Patang’.These kites are made of tissue paper and bamboo and are mostly of diamond shaped with central spine and a single bow.
In Gujarat, before the actual day of Makar sankranti, about the end of December, kids and young people start enjoying Uttarayan. Undhiyu (mixed winter vegetable) and chikkis (made from til (sesame), peanuts and jaggery) are the special festival recipes savoured on this day.
Makara Sankranti is celebrated in all of Karnataka on January 14th of every year. On this auspicious day, young females (kids & teenagers) wear new clothes to visit near and dear ones with a Sankranti offering in a plate, and exchange the same with other families. This ritual is called “Ellu Birodhu.” Here the plate would normally contain “Ellu” (white sesame seeds) mixed with fried groundnuts (kadale kai), neatly cut copra (kobbari) & fine cut jaggery (bella). The mixture is called “Ellu Bella”. The plate will also contain sugar candy moulds of various forms (Sakkare Acchu) with a piece of sugarcane. This signifies the harvest of the season, since sugarcane is predominant in these parts.
In some parts of Karnataka, a newly married woman is required to give away bananas for a period of five years to married women (muthaidhe) from the first year, but increase the number of bananas in multiples of five. There is also a tradition of some households giving away red berries “Yalchi Kai” along with the above.
Another important ritual is display of cows and cattle in many colourful costumes in an open field. Cows are decorated for the occasion and taken on a procession. They are also made to cross a pyre. This ritual is common in rural Karnataka and is called “Kichchu Haisodhu.”
Makara Sankranti is celebrated in Kerala at Sabarimala where the Makara Jyothi is visible followed by the Makara Vilakku celebrations. The 40 days anushthana by the devotees of Ayyappa ends on this day in Sabarimala with a big festival.
In Maharashtra on the Makar Sankranti day people exchange multi-colored tilguls made from til (sesame seeds) and sugar and til-laddus made from til and jaggery. Gul-polis are offered for lunch. While exchanging tilguls as tokens of goodwill people greet each other saying – ‘til-gul ghya, god god bola’ meaning ‘accept these tilguls and speak sweet words’. The under-lying thought in the exchange of tilguls is to forget the past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends.
This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ and given gifts (utensil, clothes, etc.), which the woman of the house purchases on that day. Typically, women wear black sarees or black colour dress on this occasion. The significance of wearing a black colour dress is Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and a black colour wear absorbs more heat and helps keep body warm.
Celebrations in Goa closely resemble to that in Maharashtra. The men hardly take part in the celebrations but it is the women folk who celebrate ‘haldi-kumkum’
In Punjab where December and January are the coldest months of the year, huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankara and is celebrated as Lodi or Lohri. Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown in the bonfires, around which friends and relatives gather together. The following day, which is Sankrant, is celebrated as Magi. The Punjabi’s dance their famous dance known as “Bhang-ra”. Then they sit down and eat the sumptuous food that is specially prepared for the occasion.
It is a four day festival in Tamil Nadu:
Day 1 – Bhogi Pandigai (Bhogi)
Day 2 – Thai Pongal
Day 3 – Maattu Pongal
Day 4 – Kaanum Pongal
The festival is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai.
The first day of festival is Bhogi. It is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials, by setting them on fire, marking the end of the old and the emergence of the new.
The second day of festival is Thai Pongal or simply Pongal. It is the main day, falling on the first day of the Tamil month Thai. It is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots, which are later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of “Ponggalo Ponggal!” and blowing the sangu (a conch), a custom practiced during the festival to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings. Then New boiled rice is offered to the Nature during sunrise, a gesture which symbolises thanks to the sun and nature for providing prosperity. It is later served to the people present in the house for the ceremony. People also prepare savories and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam and visit each other and exchange greetings.
The third day of festival is Maattu Pongal. It is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmer in different ways for agriculture. On this day the cattle are decorated with paint, flowers and bells. They are allowed to roam free and fed sweet rice and sugar cane. Some people decorate the horns with gold or other metallic covers. In some places, Jallikattu, or taming the wild bull contest, is the main event of this day and this is mostly seen in the villages.
The fourth day of the festival is Kaanum Pongal (the word kaanum means “to view”). During this day people visit their relatives, friends to enjoy the festive season. This day is a day to thank relatives and friends for their support in the harvest. It started as a farmers festival, called as Uzhavar Thirunaal in Tamil. Kolam decorations are made in front of the house during Thai Pongal festival.
Tribals of Orissa
Many tribals in our country start their New Year from the day of Sankrant by lighting bonfires, dancing and eating their particular dishes sitting together. The Bhuya tribals of Orissa have their Maghyatra in which small home-made articles are put for sale.
In West Bengal, Sankranti, also known as Poush Sankranti after the Bengali month in which it falls, is celebrated as a harvest festival Poush Parbon The freshly harvested paddy along with the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur and Patali is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and ‘khejurer gur’ (palm jaggery) and known as Pithey. All sections of society particpate in a three-day begins on the day before Sankranti and ends on the day after. The Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped on the day of Sankranti. In the Himalayan regions of Darjeeling, the festival is known as Magey Sakrati. It is distinctly associated with the worship of Lord Shiva. Traditionally, people were required to take a bath before sunrise and then commence their pooja. The food that is consumed consists primarily of sweet potatoes and various yams.
Though it is late, I wish you and your family
A Very Happy Sankranti.