The first festival of the year, Makar Sakranti is here and it is celebrated in various ways across India, reflecting the rich diversity of our country. Before we take your kids on a cultural journey of this festival, here are some fun facts they would love to know:
- It is the day when the sun enters the northern hemisphere. So, it has a scientific meaning attached to it.
- It is the only Indian festival which follows the solar calendar and hence, celebrated every year on 14th January.
- It is the Indian version of Thanksgiving Day as farmers and people thank the Almighty for fresh crop and new beginnings.
Now, let’s see how different Indian states celebrate this festival in their own unique traditions.
Maharashtrians celebrate Makar Sakranti dressing to the nine in their traditional wear, make delish sweet treat pooran polis and wish each other til gul ghya, god-god bola, meaning ‘eat the sweets and speak sweetly’. Women apply haldi-kumkum on each other’s forehead and give gifts. People also celebrate balache bornhan, during which little ones are decked up in new clothes and showered with gifts.
Makar Sakranti in Gujarat translates into kite flying festival for two days. Gujaratis climb their terraces early morning, put on blaring music and fly kites till late night. They get together with friends and family, eat local delicacies like undhiyo and pooris. The sky would reverberate crazy shouts of people, trying to outdo each other’s kites with patangabazi. The nights are a vision to hold as people fly tukkals, sky lanterns and even burst firecrackers!
Dhols, bhangra, giddas, dance, bonfire and lavish feast define Makar Sakranti in Punjab. It is more popularly known as Lohri festival. Punjabi songs such as Sunder mundriye ho! and Dulla Bhatti walla! play loudly in each household.
Assam celebrates Makar Sakranti as a two-day festival called Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu. They construct toy huts on their fields during the day time When the night falls, they relish traditional feast made with fish and rice. They also play traditional games such as cockfights, bullfights and tekeli- bhonga. Your kids would be shocked to know that Assamese burn down the toy huts next day! Then, they disperse the ashes in the fields as a symbol of fertility.
UP folks celebrate Khichdi Sankrant on this day. They donate khichdi ingredients such as rice and lentils along with ghee, papad, curd, chutney and sesame-jaggery sweets. Children participate in a ritual called KaaleKauva in which they prepare sweets in different shapes as a necklace to lure birds.
Your kids must be familiar with the Pongal festival. This is the Tamil Nadu version of Makar Sakranti. It is celebrated for four days during which people throw away old stuff, worship the Sun God, wear new clothes, decorate their homes, meet friends and family, and go sight-seeing. They make their special dish made from milk, rice and cardamoms. Farmers pay respect to their cattle and also play a bull game.
Do share how you celebrate Makar Sakranti in your family!