Sankranti is celebrated all over
India and Nepal with some regional variations:
* In North
o West Bengal - Poush Sankranti
(also, Makar Sankranti)
o Punjab - Lohri
o Assam - Bhogali Bihu
o Gujarat and Rajasthan - Uttarayan (Kite flying festival)
* In South
o In Tamilnadu - Pongal
o In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh - Sankranthi
o Makara Vilakku Festival in Sabarimala Temple
* Other parts of India as Makara
* In Nepal,
o Tharu people - Maghi
o Other people - Maghe Sankranti or Maghe Sakrati
Many Melas or fairs are held on Makar
Sankranti the most famous being the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years at one of
four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik.
The Magh Mela (or mini-Kumbh Mela held annually at Prayag) and the Gangasagar
Mela (held at the head of the Ganges River, where it flows into the Bay of Bengal).
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in Kerala at Sabarimala where the Makara Jyothi
is visible followed by the Makara Vilakku celebrations.
This festival is celebrated differently
in different parts of the country:
In Bengal every year a very big Mela is held at GangaSagar, where the river
Ganga is believed to have dived into the nether region and vivified the ashes
of the sixty thousand ancestors of King Bhagirath. This mela is attended by
a large number of pilgrims from all over the country.
In Uttar Pradesh, Sankrant is called ‘Khichiri’. Taking a dip in
the holy rivers on this day is regarded as most auspicious. A big one-month
long ‘Magha-Mela’ fair begins at Prayag (Allahabad) on this occasion.
Apart from Triveni, ritual bathing also takes place at many places like Haridvar
and Garh Mukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh, and Patna in Bihar.
Nadu: In Tamil Nadu Sankrant is known by the name of ‘Pongal’,
which takes its name from the surging of rice boiled in a pot of milk, and this
festival has more significance than even Diwali. It is very popular particularly
amongst farmers. Rice and pulses cooked together in ghee and milk is offered
to the family deity after the ritual worship. In essence in the South this Sankrant
is a ‘Puja’ (worship) for the Sun God.
Pradesh: In Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated as a three-day harvest festival
Pongal. It is a big event for the people of Andhra Pradesh. The Telugus like
to call it 'Pedda Panduga' meaning big festival. The whole event lasts for four
days, the first day Bhogi, the second day Sankranti, the third day Kanuma and
the fourth day, Mukkanuma.
In Karnataka, the festival is marked by visiting one's friends and relatives
to exchange greetings, and by the preparation of a dish called Ellu (made with
sesame seeds, coconuts, sugar blocks, etc). A common custom found across Karnataka
is the exchange of sugarcane pieces and Ellu with one's neighbors, friends and
relatives. In Karnataka, Pongal is known as 'Sankranti', and cows and bullocks
are gaily decorated and fed 'Pongal'- a sweet preparation of rice. Special prayers
are offered. In the evening, the cattle are led out in procession to the beat
of drums and music. In the night a bonfire is lit and the animals are made to
jump over the fire. Makar Sankranti is marked by men, women and children wearing
colorful clothing; visiting near and dear ones; and exchanging pieces of sugarcane,
a mixture of fried til, molasses, pieces of dry coconut, peanuts and fried gram.
On this auspicious day, people in Karnataka distribute Yellu and Bella (Sesame
seeds and Jaggery) and greet with the words " “Ellu bella thindu,
Olle Maathu Aadu” (Eat sesame seeds and speak only good). The significance
of this exchange is that sweetness should prevail in all the dealings.
In Maharashtra on the Sankranti day people exchange multi-colored tilguds made
from til (sesame seeds) and sugar and til-laddus made from til and jaggery.
Til-polis are offered for lunch. While exchanging tilguls as tokens of goodwill
people greet each other saying – ‘til-gul ghya, god god bola’
meaning ‘accept these tilguls and speak sweet words’. The under-lying
thought in the exchange of tilguls is to forget the past ill-feelings and hostilities
and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends. This is a special day for the
women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called
‘Haldi-Kumkum’ and given gifts of any utensil, which the woman of
the house purchases on that day.
In Gujarat Sankrant is observed more or less in the same manner as in Maharashtra
but with a difference that in Gujarat there is a custom of giving gifts to relatives.
The elders in the family give gifts to the younger members of the family. The
Gujarati Pundits on this auspicious day grant scholarships to students for higher
studies in astrology and philosophy. This festival thus helps the maintenance
of social relationships within the family, caste and community. Kite flying
has been associated with this festival in a big way. It has become an internationally
In Punjab where December and January are the coldest months of the year, huge
bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankrant and which is celebrated as Lohri or
Lohari. Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown in the bonfires, around which
friends and relatives gather together. The following day, which is Sankrant,
is celebrated as Maghi. The Punjabi's dance their famous Bhangra dance till
they get exhausted. Then they sit down and eat the sumptuous food that is specially
prepared for the occasion.
The 40 days anushthana by the devotees of Ayyappa ends on this day in Sabarimala
with a big festival.
In Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh this festival of Sankrant is known by the
name ‘Sakarat’ and is celebrated with great pomp & merriment
accompanied by lot of sweets.
of Orissa: Many tribals in our country start their New Year from the
day of Sankrant by lighting bonfires, dancing and eating their particular dishes
sitting together. The Bhuya tribals of Orissa have their Maghyatra in which
small home-made articles are put for sale.
In Assam, the festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu.
Region: In the coastal regions, it is a harvest festival dedicated to
the Hindu God of rain, thunder and lightning (and also the King of demigods)