Moments may come and go, people may leave but there is one moment which will always remain constant in our lives i.e. ‘Festivals’. Festivals are the only constant we have in our lives. Makar Sankranti is one among them. It is celebrated every year on 14th of January. Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition. Makar Sankranti indicates the entry of the sun into the zodiac sign ‘Capricorn’.

          Makar Sankranti is the only Indian festival that has been observed according to solar cycles, while almost all the other festivals are set by the lunar cycle. It is a festival of harvest and one of the few rare occasions that are celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar. It happens on equinox on which the length of day and night remains equally long. The equinox marks the end of winter season and beginning of spring- the season of harvest.

It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in various parts of India. In Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated as ‘Pongal’ which means ‘boiling over’ or ‘spillover’. Just as harvested crop spills over in the collecting pot, it is hoped that prosperity will also spill over. The cow is well regarded in this festival because of its importance in agriculture. It is a four day festival in Tamil Nadu, each day having its own significance. In West Bengal, it is known as ‘Poush Sankranti’ named after the Bengali month in which it falls. In Assam, it is known as ‘Magh Bihu‘ which is celebrated for almost a week. People of Assam make different varieties of rice such as shunga ritha, Til pitha and some other sweets of coconut called laru or laskara. In Punjab, Lohri is celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti which marks the end of the winter season and is a traditional welcome of longer days and sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere.

        In Gujarat, it is called ‘Uttarayan’, where people enjoy the festival by flying kites in the sky and eating delicious food items. The festival lasts for two days, the next day i.e. 15th January is known as ‘Vasi Uttarayan’. ‘Undhiyu’ and ‘chikkis’ are the special festival recipe’s made on this day. If you are in Gujarat, you can’t afford to miss this festival. The blue sky is filled with colorful kites and terraces have loud music playing with people dancing in full energy and enthusiasm. You will see two kinds of people on the terrace during Uttarayan, one who enjoy by flying kites and the others who are busy in clicking pictures and dancing to loud. In Ahmedabad ‘International Kite Festival’ is also celebrated every year which gives a chance to kite flyers and makers from all over the world to demonstrate their unique creations of kites.

      This is the beauty of festivals though it is named differently in various regions it has a common goal of celebrating the season of harvest and worship the sun. It is the festival having different regional importance.

Shina Utvani