Makar Sankranti, Lohri and Pongal are the most auspicious festivals celebrated in different ways in different parts of India. Read on to learn more about the significance of Makar Sankranti, Lohri and Pongal.
Makar Sankranti, Lohri and Pongal are celebrated in different forms of culture with great devotion, enthusiasm and cheerfulness. These are the festivals that fall on a fixed date and people celebrate these festivals on January 14 or 15, every year.
How is Makar Sankranti celebrated?
Millions of people take a dip in sacred rivers like Ganga, Ganga Sagar and Prayag early in the morning. They pray to Lord Sun for health, prosperity and longevity of their near and dear ones. Sun begins its ascendency and its journey towards Northern Hemisphere.
Sun is worshiped like a God. It also symbolizes knowledge and wisdom. Since sun is the most glorious and important among all cosmic bodies, the events that are associated with God Sun have religious, divine and cultural importance.
Significance of Makar Sankranti
Makar Sankranti is an event through which God gives the message to his children that one should go higher and higher towards light and never towards darkness. Another significance of this day is that after this day, days get longer and nights become shorter. This means days will get warmer and chilling winter is on decline.
Religious Significance of Makar Sankranti
From Makar Sankranti
it is believed that Uttarayan, which means the days of Devtaas, start and so most of the auspicious things happen during this time.
It is believed that God Sun visits his son, Shani’s house, who is the god of Makar Rashi. So, this day also symbolizes the special relationship that a father shares with his son and despite of differences, Lord Sun makes it a point and visits his son, Shani’s house on this day every year. This also symbolizes that a father makes his son aware of the biggest responsibility of carrying forward the dreams of his father and the continuity of the family as well.
Most of the Hindus
know the story of King Bhagirath, who sacrificed his worldly pleasures and prayed to God to bring Goddess Ganga on earth so that the lives of millions of living beings could be saved. This is the day when it is believed that Ganga came on earth and the penance of King Bhagirath got fulfilled.
It was on Makar Sankranti that Lord Vishnu ended the terrorism of Asuras or Demons. He buried their heads under the Mandar hill. So, it is believed that this day symbolizes end to the negativeness and the beginning of an era of honest and moral living.
Culture and Celebrations in Different Parts of India
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in different ways and has different names too when it comes to different parts of India.Bengal
In Bengal, there is a fete organized and held at ‘Ganga Sagar’ every year and it is attended by a large number of pilgrims from all over the country.Uttar Pradesh
In Uttar Pradesh, people take a dip in holy rivers early in the morning as it is considered auspicious. A month long fete called, ‘Magh Mela’ is organised at Prayag, Allahabad and people from all over the country visit here. In addition to Allahabad, ritual bathing also takes place in Haridwar and Garh Mukteshwar.Maharashtra
In Maharashtra people make sweets from sesame seeds and sugar or jaggery and offer to people they meet. There is a tradition of exchanging sweets among families as a token of goodwill. On this day people meet and visit each other’s house so that ill feelings of past are forgotten and they remain friends and speak good of each other.
Married women organise a get together and invite other married women from their society. The get together is called ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ and they offer sweets and utensils to the invited women.Gujarat
In Gujarat the festival is celebrated more or less similar to Maharashtra. The only difference is that they offer gifts to their relatives. This helps maintain good relationship and harmony within the family and relatives. The tradition of flying kites
is very popular in Gujarat and it has gained popularity internationally also. Punjab
The December and January months are chilly in Punjab. Here Sankranti is celebrated as ‘Lohri’ and people dance and sing around a big bonfire that is lit on the eve of Sankranti that is on January 13, every year.Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh
In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh people celebrate Sankranti as ‘Pongal’. Here this festival has more importance than Diwali. It is celebrated with immense enthusiasm and the reasons behind celebrating Pongal are the same as that in other parts of India.
Significance of Lohri
Punjab is considered as the bread basket of India. In January the fields come up with the golden harvest and show the result of the hectic schedule and hard life of the farmers. They celebrate Lohri
at the rest period that comes just before they cut and gather their crops.
Since the earth starts its journey towards sun after this, it is also a sign that the coldest months of the year are going to end now.
How is Lohri Celebrated?
Lohri is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm to celebrate the harvesting of the winter crops. Since people of Punjab are mostly farmers, they celebrate Lohri to get some relaxation from the tedious and difficult winter months. They rejoice on their success of the winter crops and enjoy the traditional folk songs and dances around the big bonfire. It also symbolises social gathering and uniting people at the community level as well.
In the morning children go from door to door singing and people offer sweets and money. This is the tradition and it was started with a social purpose.
In the evening, after the sun sets, bonfires are usually lit in the harvesting fields and people gather around this to rejoice and celebrate. People toss popcorns, puffed rice and other munchies into the bonfire while they circle around it. They pray to god to let honour come and poverty vanish while circling and offering munchies in the bonfire.
People meet relatives and friends on this day and offer five things to those who come to their house – til, gajak, jiggery, roasted peanuts and popcorns. Nowadays, people offer ready-made sweets or laddoos also to visitors.
Significance of Pongal
Pongal is an important harvest festival in South India. It is celebrated with great fervour and ardour. The festival takes place for four days and each day has its own significance. On the first day people decorate their houses with banana and mango leaves. They also put patterns drawn with rice flour on the entrance door to welcome health and prosperity in the family.
It is believed that Gods wake up on this day and bestow wealth and prosperity on earth. People also believe that those who die on this day attain salvation or moksha. Pongal
dish is very famous and is prepared in a specific manner. The ingredients used to prepare the dish bear special significance.
Sankranti is celebrated all over India as a festival of thanksgiving and get-together. This year it is believed that Sankranti will bring positive energies into people’s homes and also bring in better opportunities in career. No matter to which part of India you go, they believe that sharing happiness and sweets with others on this day will bring in happiness and positivity in their lives. It is believed to be a new beginning and so if people start the year with sweetness, the year will be filled with good things.What is the significance of Makar Sankranti? How is Lohri celebrated by Punjabi community? Which sweets are prepared on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Lohri and Pongal? Discuss here.