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Makar Sankranti holds great religious significance across different communities and states of India. This is probably the only one festival that is celebrated in every region of India, on the same day. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm in all parts of the country. But the way people celebrate this festival varies from state to state. While people in some states prepare sweet dishes and khichdi, in other states, the festival is celebrated by flying kites and exchanging gifts. That’s not all; here are the other fascinating ways in which people celebrate Makar Sankranti in different states of India.
- Punjab : In Punjab, Lohri is celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti when people harvest their crops and celebrate by singing, dancing, and lighting bonfires. On 14th of January, i.e., Makar Sankranti, the people of Punjab celebrate Maghi as the new harvest year. They eat sumptuous food and perform bhangra to welcome the New Year on Maghi.
- Rajasthan : Makar Sankranti is one of the most popular festivals in the state of Rajasthan. People in this state prepare special dishes like til-paati, ghevar, gajak, pheni, kheer, pakodi, puwa, and til-laddoo to share with their family and friends. Newly married brides and grooms receive gifts from their in-laws on this day. It is a ritual in the state for married women to gift makeup items, household items, and special dishes to other women. In the evening, people fly kites and compete in kite flying competition.
- Delhi & Haryana : In Delhi and Haryana, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the married women. As most of the marriages take place in November, December, Makar Sankranti becomes the first festival of the newly married brides and grooms. Brides get ready and prepare special sweet dishes like churma, halwa, and kheer as a token of love for their in-laws. Married women also gift makeup-items and clothes to their in-laws on this day.
- Kerala : In Kerala, Makar Sankranti is marked with the end of the 40-days long anushthaan performed by the devotees of Lord Ayappa. The end of this anushthaan is celebrated with pomp and glory as a big festival, especially in Sabarimala. Pilgrims from different parts of the state and neighboring area visit the Sabarimala temple to offer their prayers to Makara Jyothi (a star who is assumed to be an incarnation of Lord Ayappa).
- Gujarat : In Gujarat, people celebrate the festival of Uttarayan on Makar Sankranti. It is a two-day festival, where 14th January marks the beginning. On this day, people fly kites that fill the entire state with colors. Kite flying contests are also held across the state and echo of ‘kai po che’ can be heard everywhere.
- Andhra Pradesh & Telangana : In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, a four-day long festival, Pongal, is celebrated to mark the occasion of new harvest year. Bhogi, Sankranti, Kanuma, and Mukkanuma are the names of the four festivals celebrated on the four days. People get together, share sweets, buy new household items, wear new clothes, decorate house with rangolis, free their cattle, fly kites, and enjoy ox fights and cock fights.
- Maharashtra : In Maharashtra, people celebrate Makar Sankranti in its true and authentic sense. They share multi-colored tilguds (a sweet dish made from sesame seeds and jaggery), and til laddus. People greet each other with a phrase ‘til-gul ghya, god god bola’, which means ‘accept the sweets and speak sweet words’.
- Tamil Nadu : In Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as ‘Pongal’, i.e., Tamilian New Year. People give more significance to Pongal in this state than festivals like Diwali or Holi. It is mainly a festival for farmers where they offer a dish, prepared by boiling rice and pulses together in ghee, to the Sun God.
- West Bengal : In West Bengal, the sacred region of Gangasagar holds a big mela or fest during the time of Makar Sankranti. Devotees from different parts of the country flock here to take a holy dip in River Ganges in Gangasagar.
- Uttar Pradesh : In Uttar Pradesh, the festival of Makar Sankranti is commonly called Khichdi Parv. A dish, made from rice and pulses, called khichdi, is prepared on this day and offered to the Sun God. People take a dip in the holy waters at Sangam in Prayag, Allahabad to wash their sins away.
- Assam : In Assam, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as a two-day long festival called Magha Bihu or Bhogali Bihu, where people come together and perform some traditional rituals. This festival in Assam celebrates the end of harvesting season and people erect makeshift huts, light bonfires, play games like Tekeli Bhonga, cook delectable Assamese cuisine like Shunga Pitha, Til Pitha etc., and enjoy buffalo fighting.
- Karnataka : In Karnataka, people consider Makar Sankranti as a festival of goodwill and friendship. They exchange yello bella, a sweet made with sesame seeds, peanuts, gram, and jaggery, to sweeten their friendship. They also prepare rice and moong dal khichdi and serve it with curry made from freshly harvested sweet potato, sweet pumpkin, and field beans.
- Jharkhand & Bihar : In Jharkhand and Bihar, people celebrate Makar Sankranti as a two-day long festival which they call Sakraat or Khichdi. People take bath in the sacred river and share sweets with each other. They also prepare khichdi, a dish made with rice and pulses, and enjoy its delectable taste with family and friends.
Happy Makar Sankranti!