Makar Sankranti Celebrations

This festival is celebrated differently in different parts of the country.

Andhra Pradesh

It is a four day festival in Andhra Pradesh
Day 1- Bhogi Panduga (Bhogi)
Day 2 - Pedda Panduga,SANKRANTI (Surya)
Day 3 - Kanuma Panduga (Kanuma)
Day 4 - Mukkanuma

                         The first day of festival is Bhogi. At dawn people light up a bonfire with several old articles in their house. In many familities they celebrate Bhogi pallu, in the evening. These are the regi pallu with petals of flower and coins of money, will be put on the heads of kids(generally younger than 3 years)(like talambralu) to get rid of Dishti(drushti). The second day is Sankranti, the big festival, when everyone wears new clothes and pray to their favourite God by offering them sweets. Kanuma Panduga (Kanuma) is less celebrated but is an integral part of Sankranti culture. Mukkanuma is famous among the non-vegetarians of the society. People do not eat any non-vegetarian during the first three days of the festival and eat it only on the day of Mukkanuma.

                         Sankranti usually represents all the four days together. It 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 to the household. Rangoli competitions too are a common sight. The entire month from mid-December to sankranthi is celebrated with giant rangolis in front of the house which are drawn only at late night for the entire month. For all other days of the year, rangoli is typically drawn in mornings only.

Orissa

                         It has a special significance in Orissa. It's a most precious day for Oriya people. Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of the Sun's journey to the Northern Hemisphere (Makara raasi), signifying the onset of Uttarayana Punyakalam. Makar Sankranti is celebrated with gusto in mid-January when the Sun enters the orbit of capricon. The sun god is worshipped with great fervour and enthusiasm by one and all. The festival can be best enjoyed at Kalijai (an island in Chilika), Atri (Khurda), Ghatgaon, Keonjhar, Jashipur, puri and Jagatsinghpur. A special kind of sweet rice is offered to the local god and goddess. In Jagannath temple at puri this festival is observed as Uttarayana Yatra and Uttarayan Vandapana of lord Jagannath. This special sweet rice (Raw Chawal) is made with sugar, Banana, Cheese, Piled coconut, Camphor and black pepper and offered to the God. This special rice is popularly known as "Makara Chaula". This day is also observed in Jagannath temple, puri with two popular Veshas (costumes) of Lord Jagannath i.e. Nabanka Vesha (one day before makar sankaranti) and Makara Chaurashi Vesha (on the day of Makar Sankaranti).

Tamil Nadu

                         In Tamil Nadu Sankranti is known by the name of 'Pongal, which takes its name from the surging of rice boiled in a pot of milk, and this festival has more significance than even Diwali. It is very popular particularly amongst farmers. Rice and pulses cooked together in ghee and milk is offered to the family deity after the ritual worship. In essence in the South this Sankranti is a 'Puja (worship) for the Sun God.

Maharashtra

                         In Maharashtra on the Sankranti day people exchange multi-colored tilguds made from til (sesame seeds) and sugar and til-laddus made from til and jaggery. Til-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 of any utensil, which the woman of the house purchases on that day. Hindus wear ornaments made of 'Halwa' on this day.

Karnataka

                         In Karnataka, the festival is marked by visiting one's friends and relatives to exchange greetings, and by the preparation of a dish called Ellu (made with sesame seeds, coconuts, sugar blocks, etc). A common custom found across Karnataka is the exchange of sugarcane pieces and Ellu with one's neighbors, friends and relatives. In Karnataka, Pongal is known as 'Sankranti', and cows and bullocks are gaily decorated and fed 'Pongal'- a sweet preparation of rice. Special prayers are offered. In the evening, the cattle are led out in procession to the beat of drums and music. In the night a bonfire is lit and the animals are made to jump over the fire.
                         Makar Sankranti is marked by men, women and children wearing colorful clothing; visiting near and dear ones; and exchanging pieces of sugarcane, a mixture of fried til, molasses, pieces of dry coconut, peanuts and fried gram. On this auspicious day, people in Karnataka distribute Yellu and bella (Sesame seeds and Jaggery) and greet with the words "Ellu bella thindu, Olle Maathu Aadu" (Eat sesame seeds and speak only good). The significance of this exchange is that sweetness should prevail in all the dealings.

Gujarat

                         In Gujarat Sankranti is observed more or less in the same manner as in Maharashtra but with a difference that in Gujarat there is a custom of giving gifts to relatives. The elders in the family give gifts to the younger members of the family. The Gujarati Pundits on this auspicious day grant scholarships to students for higher studies in astrology and philosophy. This festival thus helps the maintenance of social relationships within the family, caste and community. Kite flying has been associated with this festival in a big way. It has become an internationally well-known event.

Uttar Pradesh

                         In Uttar Pradesh, Sankranti is called 'Khichiri'. Taking a dip in the holy rivers on this day is regarded as most auspicious. A big one-month long 'Magha-Mela' fair begins at Prayag (Allahabad) on this occasion. Apart from Triveni, ritual bathing also takes place at many places like Haridvar and Garh Mukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh, and Patna in Bihar.

Know more about Makar Sankranti at http://www.makarsankranti.org/