Makar Sankranti is the most awaited festival in our country. It holds great historical significance. People celebrate this auspicious festival with great enthusiasm and zeal with different names at different places on 14 January or 15 January. Celebrating Makar Sankranti has both scientific and religious reasons. It is believed and experienced in our science that on the Makar Sankranti, the Sun transits into Makar which symbolises the end of the month of the winter solstice. Whereas rituals say, it is the time to thank our nature and cattle. Devotees take baths in their nearest holy river, donate Money, Rice, Gud (jaggery) and Til to the needy or Brahmans (priests), give Sankranti wishes to each other and eat sweet delicacies (made up of Til-Gud).
Many people travel to Prayagraj, Varanasi, Haridwar and other pious sites to take a bath in the river Ganga. Getting seats on trains during this festival can be difficult. So, book your train tickets in advance and check your PNR status from time to time to know about berth confirmations. You can also avail of the IRCTC e-catering services and pre-book your veg foods for your journey.
Makar Sankranti and Its Significance
Makar Sankranti is an important festival that marks the end of dark phases and the beginning of something new in everyone’s life. People celebrate it with the sign of brotherhood and hope for their best, happy, healthy life.
Some interesting facts about Makar Sankranti:
- Makar Sankranti is the only Hindu festival which follows the solar calendar and falls on the same date every year.
- Due to cold weather, our skin generally gets dried or flaky. The festival features sesame (Til), which contains oil-based constituents that moisturises our skin and keep it smooth.
- It is a festival to forget and forgive the old bitterness and establish cordial relations.
- This festival is dedicated to the farmers and their hard work because they continuously work to produce crops to fulfil our needs throughout the year.
Makar Sankranti and Its Different Forms
Indian farmers are the biggest community in our country, and they are found almost in every state. The ways of celebrating this festival vary in different States. Let’s see India’s diverse and famous way of revelry Makar Sankranti.
Punjab as Lohri
Lohri is celebrated in Punjab, signifying the coldest winter days. It is also celebrated in Delhi, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Singing and Dancing are the most crucial part of the festival. They wear their brightest dress and come to dance around the bonfire on the beat of Dhol. Sarson Da saag, Makki Di Roti is usually served in the dinner’s main course. They also enjoy the ‘Til Rice’.
Rajasthan as Sankranti
Famous with the name “Sakrat”, the people of Rajasthan welcome this festival with their Rajasthani’s special delicacies and sweets like Pheeni, til-patti, gajak, kheer, ghevar, pakodi, puwa and til-laddoo. Kite flying is the most common way to celebrate Sakrat. Friends and newly married daughters/sisters are especially invited to visit their parent’s houses with their husbands for Sakrat blessings and meals. They give out dry khichdi or til-gud to their guests. Additionaly, There is also a tradition of the Sankranti festival in the region; the women give many types of objects like households, makeup or fruits to 13 women.
Gujarat as Uttarayan
Uttarayan is a two-day festival. On the day of Uttarayan, families prepare and share Undhiyu and Chikkis. The Kite festival in Ahmedabad is organised at a significant level. Thousands of kites are swaying in the blue sky with a sound like lapet – lapet, jay – jay, Kai Po Che, phirki vet phirki etc., echoing high in the sky.
Uttar Pradesh as Khichdi
Over two million people gather at the banks of the sacred rivers of Uttar Pradesh in Prayagraj, and Varanasi to take a bath in holy rivers. The world-famous Maha Kumbh Mela, organised every 12 years at Prayagraj, deeply connects with Makar Sankranti. Devotees take sacred baths during the morning while fasting, wear new clothes and donate rice, til and til ladoo. The Kite Festival in this region starts from the starting day of winter, but on khichdi, people put all their energies into flying kites. Bihar and Jharkhand also celebrate khichdi with immense enthusiasm.
Maharashtra as Makar Sankranti
With the words “Til gud ghya, aani goad – goad bola” they exchange til-gud as a token of goodwill; people meet each other and invite their relatives and friends to their homes for Makar Sankranti celebrations. They exchange multi-coloured halwa, Gulachi Poli/ Puran Poli, til-gud ladoo or toasted gram flour underlying the thought – forget the past ill feelings. Women wear black clothes and welcome every lady with the tika of Haldi-kumkum.
West Bengal as Posh Parbon
Posh Parbon or Poush Sankranti is celebrated as the harvest festival of the new harvest season. On this three-day festival, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. People participate in this festival from one day before the Poush Sankranti, i.e. 13 January and continue their festivity to 15 January. Khajur Gur is used in the preparation of Bengali dishes/sweets. They exchange freshly harvested paddy, patali and Khejurer gur (the date palm syrup) with good wishes.
Assam as Magh Bihu/Bhogali Bihu
The Magh Bihu is celebrated as the symbol of the end of the harvest season in Maagha. Feasts and bonfires mark this festival. The tradition of commemorating Magh Bihu is to make a hut (known as Meji or Bhelaghar), eat the food prepared for the feed and then burn the hut the following day. They also play games like ‘likely – bhonga’ (pot–breaking) and add buffalo–fighting in the form of their entertainment.
Tamil Nadu as Pongal
In the southern part of India, Tamil Nadu celebrates Sankranti Festival with a different name and style. It is a four days festival in that region. Each day of celebration holds its own name and importance.
- The first day of the celebration is known as “Bhogi Pandigai”. Today, people throw or destroy their old clothes or materials into the fire, symbolising eliminating evil thoughts and beginning a new life with positive beliefs. In villages of this region, people keep ‘neem leaves’ on the top of the roof, which is believed to eliminate evil forces.
- The second day of Pongal is known as “Thai Pongal”. Thai Pongal is also famous as the name of Pongal because it is the festival’s primary day. It is a tradition to cook a special rice dish on this auspicious day. Rice is boiled in milk and gud (jaggery), decorated with dry fruits in the early morning,g and offered to God Sun. They exchange Vadai, Murukku, payasam, and gifts and visit each other’s houses.
- The third day of this festival is known as “Mattu Pongal”. Mattu Pongal in Tamil Nadu holds its own importance as it is devoted to thanking giving to cattle to help farmers in agriculture. People decorate their cattle with flowers, paints or bells, and they’re allowed to roam free and fed with a sweet rice and sugar canes. Some people decorate the horns of the cattle with a gold covering or any other metallic cover. In villages, “Wild Bull Contests” are organised.
- The last day of this festival is “Kaanum Pongal”. Since it is the last day of celebration, people wear new clothes and visit their relatives’ or friends’ houses to exchange gifts.
Makar Sankranti Festival Celebration in Other Nations
Except for India, some of our neighbouring countries also celebrate Makar Sankranti with different names.
- Bangladesh celebrates this festival with the name Shakrain. It is an annual winter festival; people celebrate their Shakrain’s holiday by flying kites.
- Nepal celebrates it with the name of Maghe Sankranti. This Nepalese festival is celebrated on the first day of the Magh month of Vikram Samwat (Hindu Solar of Nepali Calendar). They believe that the starting of Magh is an end to all ill-omened mouths of Poush when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. The Nepalese Hindu takes a bath in their nearest river and prays to the Sun. Some Nepalese performs Nara Puja for the community’s protection from evil. They also enjoy the basket dance and occasionally distribute ladoo, ghee and sweets.
- In Pakistan, also known as Sindh, the Sindhi parents celebrate this festival by sending Ladoos and Chiki to their married daughter.
- Sri Lanka – On this day, the Sri Lanka Tamil farmers honour the Sun God Suryapakaran. The Thai Pongal is celebrated on this day.
Along with all these neighbouring countries, the entire world celebrates this day as the International Kite Competition. It is generally organised in the central states of India.
International Kite Festival 2023 on Makar Sankranti
This year ‘International Kite Festival 2023’ is organised in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with the theme of G20 countries on 7 January and will run from 8th to 14th January. The festival is organised after two years because of covid Pandemic. You can plan your trip to Ahmedabad to participate in this kite festival on MakarSankarnti.
Why is Sankranti Festival Celebrated?
Makar Sankranti, Sankranti, Uttrayan and known with different names, is celebrated in India to mark the beginning of harvest season and thank the nature, and sun.
What Can We Do on the Makar Sankranti?
You can take bath in pious river, donate food, enjoy delicacies, participate in kite competition and more. Alternatively, you can visit places known for sacred bath on Makar Sankranti or travel to different states to see different forms of Makarsankranti. You can also go to Ahemdabad to participate in International Kite festival. Numerous trains from different Indian states and cities run to Ahmedabad., Prayagraj, Varanasi and more.
You can book your train ticket from IRCTC official website. Check the PNR status to know the ticket status and pre-order your food from the RailRestro train food app. The app helps get a variety of food delivery in train, including Pizza, Dosa, Chinese cuisines and more.
RailRestro is renowned train food app to plan food for the journey.