Makar Sankranti is the first major festival of the year in India. It’s the festival that celebrates the beginning of the harvest season. Being an agricultural country, you can imagine the importance and scale of the celebration of Makar Sankranti in India. Pretty much anywhere you go around India, you’ll see celebrations in full swing. Only thing, it’s celebrated under different names, traditions, and festivities.
Traveling to some place during a festival is easily the best way to get acquainted with its culture and join in the celebrations. If you’re setting out early in the year, here are 6 places to celebrate Makar Sankranti in India!
In Maharashtra, Makar Sankranti is celebrated over three days and focuses on the coming together of people. Generally, people clean their houses before the arrival of this festival. Once the festival does arrive, people wear new clothes, meet their loved ones, and exchange sweets.
The first day of Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra is called ‘Bhogi’. Everybody prays to the Sun God and wishes for happiness and prosperity for the year. Flying kites is one of the most popular ways of celebrating Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra. While people do this on all three days, it’s most looked forward to on the day of Bhogi.
The second day is for married women. They meet each other on this day to celebrate ‘Haldi-Kumkum’. It’s a tradition where married women apply turmeric powder and vermillion to each other’s foreheads. This is also the day where married women exchange gifts in a ceremony called ‘Oti Bharan’.
The third day is a day of prayers and celebration. It’s the day on which Devi slayed the devil Kinkarasur, due to which this day is called Kinkrant. The end of the devil also marks the end of this festival in Maharashtra. The delicacies generally made during Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra are puran poli, halwa, and til gul laddoos, which is basically a candy-like sweet made out of jaggery (gul) and sesame seeds (til).
Also Read: Top 7 Things To Do In Maharashtra
In Andhra Pradesh, Makar Sankranti is celebrated over four days. People clean and decorate their houses and draw elaborate patterns out of rangoli. In some villages, rangolis are also decorated with flowers and cow-dung. Makar Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh also consists of people coming together and celebrating. However, praying, worshipping, and celebrating with the cattle is something that is regularly seen here.
On the first day, the celebration is built around the concept of starting new or a fresh beginning. People throw all the old wood and furniture in a pit together and start a bonfire, signifying the end of the old and bad and the beginning of something new. This day is called ‘Bhogi Panduga’.
The second day is called Pedda Panduga and is the most important one out of the four. On this day, people wear new clothes, invite people over for feasts, and pay their respects to their ancestors. People organize huge prayer meets in order to pay their respects and tend to spend the day with their families.
The third day is called Kanuma Panduga. It’s celebrated much more by the farmer folk of the state as it’s the day when the cattle of the house are celebrated. Amongst the cattle, the cows see maximum respect and celebration as they have religious importance in Hinduism.
The fourth and final day of Makar Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh is called ‘Mukkanuma’. On this day, farmers pray to, and thank, the natural elements like fire, earth, and water, since they enable the farmers to grow crops. This is also the day when everybody comes together and flies kites.
Sweets like rice kheer, purnalu (a sweet made of rice flour, dal, and jaggery), appalu (a sweet made of jaggery and rice flour), and chakkara Pongal are made for this festival. Dig in!
Rajasthan potentially sees the most excitement and fervor around Makar Sankranti. Since the winter in this state is harsh, the transition into the warmer months is much awaited and celebrated. However, unlike a lot of states, Makar Sankranti in Rajasthan is celebrated over just one day.
On this day, people typically hold prayers in their houses along with their families. Some people visit the holy water bodies closest to their house in order to take a dip and wash off all the negativity of the past. The newlyweds are invited to the bride’s parents’ house for a meal on the day of Makar Sankranti. This is done to signify and celebrate the first Sankrant of the newlyweds as a couple. This tradition is called Sankrant Bhoj. In some communities, married women visit other married women’s houses and exchange gifts, which typically consist of household items.
Arguably, Rajasthan takes the tradition of kite flying most seriously. Everybody gathers on top of their terraces and fly kites. They also compete with other kite flyers by trying to tangle their kites and cut the manja of the kite. In fact, the bigger cities in Rajasthan hold professional kite flying tournaments, and winners are awarded cash prizes.
Peanuts, gajar ka halwa (carrot halwa), til laddoos (sesame and jaggery ladooss), gajak (a sweet made from sesame seeds, jaggery, and peanuts), and dal pakodi (fried moong dal snack) are the festive delicacies seen in this part of the country.
If you plan on visiting Rajasthan at some other time of the year, check out the Ranakpur Temple for your dose of culture and calmness.
Like Rajasthan, Karnataka also celebrates Makar Sankranti for just one day. However, that’s where the similarities between the two states end. Makar Sankranti in Karnataka is much calmer and has a homely method of celebration.
Typically, people clean their homes before the festival so that they can decorate it on the day of Makar Sankranti. They also draw beautiful rangolis with rice flour and decorate them further with mango leaves. Just like their Marathi neighbors, Kannadigas also exchange sweets on Makar Sankranti. Some newlyweds follow the tradition of giving banana leaves to other newlyweds for five years, increasing the number of leaves by five each year.
Kannadigas have a full menu for this day. It consists of lemon rice, sweet Pongal, payasam (sweet pudding), ellu-bella (sesame seeds-jaggery), and vadas. It’s made in large quantities and family members are invited for meals.
Makar Sankranti is called Sankrant in Goa. Unlike the reputation of Goa, the Sankrant festival is concentrated heavily around families in this state.
On the day of the festival, this state follows the tradition of offering five plates of food to the Gods. One plate is meant for the God to feast while two plates are meant for crows (crows are considered to be ancestors in Indian culture). One plate is kept in all corners of the house to feed any negative spirits and ward them off, and one plate is meant to be shared by the family. However, only the plate meant for the family is eaten, all others are disposed of.
As a part of the celebrations of Sankrant, women observe a ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ festival in order to show respect to Goddess Lakshmi. They apply these sacred powders on each other’s foreheads and exchange gifts. The festival of Sankrant ends on the day of ‘Ratha Saptami’ when the temple deity is taken around the village in a chariot. People join in this procession with folk songs and dances.
Just like their neighbors from Maharashtra and Karnataka, the folks in Goa also make it a point to spread sweetness with sweets. They also exchange sweets made out of jaggery and sesame seeds. In Goa, you’ll see delicacies made out of coconut, jaggery, Bengal gram (chana dal), and rice being made and shared with loved ones.
Kerala might have the most unique celebration when it comes to the festival of Makar Sankranti. To begin with, it’s called Makara Vilakku in this state and is celebrated at the Sabarimala Temple. Every year, thousands of devotees from all over the world congregate to this temple in order to pray to Lord Ayyappan.
They also partake in traditions like ‘Prasadhasudhi’, which is the distribution of the holy prasad to the devotees, and the ‘Deeparadhana’ .For this tradition, the sadhus and higher-ranking pandits light the diyas, commencing the celebration of the festival.
The biggest star of this show is the lighting of the diya on the hill of Ponnambalamedu. The flame of the diya is shown thrice to the temple of Sabarimala, which is about four kilometers away from the hill. Worshippers eagerly wait to see this sight. The temple authorities along with the government of the state, have made provisions for the people to be able to witness this tradition. Worshippers visiting this festival at the temple also eagerly wait for the prasad offered. It’s usually made out of ingredients that are very healthy like rice, ghee, and sugar.
Regardless of what part of the country you go to or what community you look at, you’ll see that Makar Sankranti is more about getting together with your family. It’s about spending time with dear ones and enjoying the traditions together. In a similar manner, regardless of what part of the country you’re in, if you walk around during this festival, you’ll be invited by somebody to celebrate with them. So, why not explore the country and experience the festival in a way like never before?
When Is Makar Sankranti?
This festival does not have a decided date but is decided according to the solar calendar. Since the solar calendar closely follows the Gregorian one, Makar Sankranti generally falls in the first half of January.
What Is Makar Sankranti Celebrated For?
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in order to signify the beginning of the harvest season in India. According to Indian mythology, Makar Sankranti is the beginning of the sun’s, or Lord Surya’s journey to the north. Also known as Uttarayan, this journey marks the end of winter and gives rise to longer and warmer days. The warmer days give hope and positivity, and a time for the farmer folk to celebrate and sow seeds for the coming year.
What Does The Word Sankranti Mean?
Sankranti is a Sanskrit word that roughly translates to the transmigration of the sun from one ‘rashi’ (moon placed sign) to the next.
What Is The Story Of Sankranti?
The story of Sankranti is that of Lord Surya and how he begins his journey to the north on this day, blessing everyone with happiness, warmth, and energy in the form of the Sun’s rays.
How Do We Observe Makar Sankranti?
One of the most common themes seen across all celebrations of Makar Sankranti is coming together with family, exchanging sweets and gifts, and flying kites together. Throughout the country, you’ll see some variations of a harvest festival, while the names may be different across states (Baisakhi in Punjab, Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Vasi Uttarayan in Gujarat, and Pousha Sankranti in West Bengal).
Where Is Makar Sankranti Most Celebrated In India?
Makar Sankranti is mostly celebrated in South India like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana.
Which State Is Famous For Makar Sankranti?
Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are the most famous states for celebrating Makar Sankranti.
What Is Makar Sankranti Called In Kashmir?
Another word for Makar Sankranti in Kashmir is known Shishur Sankranti