Makar Sankranti :-
Makar Sankranti is an Indian festival celebrated in almost all parts of India and Nepal in lots of cultural forms. It is a harvest festival.
Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India and is a traditional event. Makara Sankranthi is a solar event making one of the few Indian festivals which fall on the same date in the Gregorian calendar every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January. Primarily a harvest and thanksgiving festival in India, each state and region has it’s own way of celebrating Makar Sankranti.
SIGNIFICANCE OF MAKAR SANKRANTI :-
The festival of Makar Sankranti is associated with much cultural significance. The Puranas say that on this day Sun visits the house of his son Shani, who is the swami of Makar Rashi. This day symbolizes the healthy relationship of father & son. It is the son who has the responsibility to carry forward his fathers dream and the continuity of the family.
It was on this day when Lord Vishnu ended the ever increasing terror of the Asuras by finishing them off and burying their heads under the Mandara Parvata (Mountain). So this occasion also represents the end of negativities and beginning of an era of righteous living.
Regional Names :-
Since India is mainly a land of agrarian society, the festival of Pongal is observed in different regions, under different names with different rituals in different parts of India.
There are many harvest festivals celebrated here. This festival is celebrated all over India on the same day, but has different names in each region. However, being a harvest festival, bonfires and feasts are the main thing common to all the celebrations of Pongal festival. Discussed here are the various names of Pongal prevalent in India and their unique way of celebration.
Other Names of Makar Sankranti :-
In the south, people have the festival of Pongal, which is celebrated over four days. The newly harvested rice is cooked and this preparation goes by the name Pongal.
In the North Indian states of India, people celebrate this day as Makar Sankranti. The most exciting thing about this festival is the kite flying. People believe that the direction of the wind changes on that day, and so they all come out into the streets to fly colorful kites and capture as many as possible.
On Kaanum Pongal, elaborate powdered chalk designs of the sun god, Surya are drawn. As soon as the auspicious month of Thai is underway, Surya is worshiped.
In Punjab, people celebrate Lohri in January on what they believe is the coldest day of the year. With the cold winds blowing they celebrate by dancing the bhangra around a fire, which is fed with sugarcane, rice and sesame seeds. People sing folk songs that tell of a good harvest, which is a blessing from the gods.
Bihu / Bohaggiyo Bhishu
This is the greatest festival of the Assamese people, who observe three Bihus. The three Bihus, constitute a festival complex and are celebrated at various stages of the cultivation of paddy, the principal crop of Assam.
The first day is Bhogi and is in honor of Indra the god of rain. There are many legends told about this day. The day begins with a til (sesame) oil bath and in the evening there is a bonfire in which all the rubbish in the house is burnt.
This is a harvest festival – the Tamil equivalent of Thanksgiving. It is held to honor the Sun, for a bountiful harvest. Families gather to rejoice and share their joy and their harvests with others.
The first day is the Poki festival during which old things are removed and discarded. Since rain plays a very important part in our lives, naturally rain is revered and the first day’s celebration is appropriately called Poki festival.
The Hadaga festival in Maharashtra is to pray for a good monsoon and a good harvest. As Indra is the god of rain, people sing songs to Indra and pray for rain. Pictures of the elephant which is Indra’s vehicle are drawn everywhere to invite the God.