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Know More: Makar Sankranti


Uttarayan, commonly known as Makar Sankranti, marks the end of a long winter with the return of the sun to the Northern Hemisphere. This is perhaps the only Indian festival whose date always falls on the same day every year - January 14. 

Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Makar Sankranti marks the termination of the winter season and the beginning of a new harvest or spring season

Celebrations Across India


Sankrant is celebrated as a three-day harvest festival called Pongal. The Telugu-speaking community calls it Pedda Panduga meaning 'big festival'. The whole event lasts for four days. The first day is called Bhogi, the second day is called Sankranti, the third day is called Kanuma and the fourth day is called Mukkanuma.


In Assam, the festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu.


The festival is celebrated as a two-day festival here, where January 14 is celebrated as Uttarayan and January 15 as Vasi Uttarayan meaning 'stale Uttarayan'. Locals keenly await this festival to fly kites and this custom has given birth to the annual International Kite Festival.

On Sankrant day, elders in the family give gifts to the younger members of the family. Pundits also grant scholarships to students for higher studies in astrology and philosophy. This festival thus helps maintain social relationships within the family and community. Undhiyu (mixed winter vegetable) and chikkis (made from til or sesame seeds, peanuts and jaggery) are the special treats savoured on this day.


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, coconut and sugar). A common custom practised across Karnataka is the exchange of sugarcane pieces and ellu with one's neighbours, 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. In the evening, the cattle are led out in a procession to the beat of drums and music.


The 40-day anushthana by the devotees of Ayyappa ends on this day and a big festival is held in Sabarimala.


In Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh, this festival is known as Sakarat and is celebrated with great pomp, merriment and lots of traditional sweets.


On this day, people of Maharashtra exchange multicoloured tilguds made from til (sesame seeds) and sugar and til laddus made from til and jaggery. Tilpolis are also offered for lunch. This is a special day for married women in Maharashtra, who attend get-togethers called Haldi-Kumkum and receive gifts like utensils.


Many tribes in Orissa celebrate this day as their New Year. They light bonfires and dance and eat particular sweetmeats and savoury food items as a community. The Bhuya tribe of Orissa has a Maghyatra, which is similar to an exhibition, in which small home-made articles are put up for sale.


In Punjab, where December and January are the coldest months of the year, huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankrant. This is celebrated as Lohri. 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.


Here Sankrant is known by the name of Pongal, which takes its name from the surging of rice boiled in a pot of milk. This festival is very popular amongst farmers. Rice and pulses are cooked together in ghee and milk and offered to the family deity after the ritual worship.



In Uttar Pradesh, Sankrant is called Khichiri. Taking a dip in the holy rivers on this day is regarded as an auspicious activity. A one-month long Magh Mela fair begins at Prayag (Allahabad) on this occasion.


In West Bengal, a mela is held at Ganga Sagar. This mela is attended by a large number of pilgrims from all over the country.

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