India is known for its cultural diversity. While moving from the north to south of India and from east to west, you will come across different and unique cultures and traditions. But amidst these differences, there are many traditional and cultural values which unite the Indian Subcontinent. And one such tradition is the celebration of Makar Sankranti, which is known by different names across the Indian states but in essence, is the celebration of the same ideas. Makar Sankranti is a Hindu Harvest Festival dedicated to Surya Dev i.e., the Sun God. The festival of Makar Sankranti is also a way of welcoming spring after the winter months. It’s usually celebrated on 14/15th of January with the beginning of the Hindu month of Makara every year and the festivities include kite flying, bonfires, fairs, Surya puja in the river, etc. Let’s explore the importance of Makar Sankranti in Indian culture.
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The Origins of Makar Sankranti
According to popular beliefs, Makar Sankranti is named after a Hindu deity named Sankranti who is credited with the killing of the demon Sankarasur, symbolic of the victory of good over evil. Therefore people across India consider this festival an auspicious day to take a dip in holy rivers like Ganga, Yamuna or Godavari. This particular ritual holds a lot of significance as it is believed that bathing in a holy river could wash away your sins. The importance of Makar Sankranti lies in welcoming new beginnings and also the coming of spring which is often associated with life.
Significance of Makar Sankranti
There is a rich cultural significance and importance of Makar Sakranti in India as well as Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore, Nepal and Malaysia. Let’s have a look at what exactly is the significance and importance of Makar Sankranti, a pan-India festival.
- The celebrations of Makar Sankranti is dedicated to the Sun God in order to thank him for agricultural plenty that he has enriched the world with. Also, the sun symbolises embracing the goodness that exists in the world and letting go of darkness or evil.
- Makara Sankranti marks the beginning of an auspicious period i.e., spring.
- It’s also believed that on the day of Makar Sankranti the world is full of divine consciousness and this side could be embraced to ensure unity and well being.
- Kite flying is amongst the most popular activities on Makar Sakranti all around the year, where people fly colourful and uniquely designed kites at the rooftops of their houses or on wide playgrounds.
- On Makar Sankranti, people take a dip in the holy rivers in order to seek forgiveness for their past actions.
- The sesame sweets which are consumed on Makar Sankranti symbolise unity, joyfulness and purification of one’s inner self.
Makar Sankranti Celebrations in India
As we have already discussed, Makar Sankranti is a pan India festival which is celebrated on the same day across India but is known by different names and comprises of different ritual and festivities. Let’s have a look at these regional variations of Makar Sankranti.
|Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh Telangana||Suggi Habba, Makara Sankramana, Makara Sankranti|
|Odisha||Makara Sankranti or Makara Mela and Makara Chaula|
|Kerala||Makara Sankranti or Makaravilakku and Makara Jyothi|
|Bihar||Makara Sankranti or Til Sankrant|
|Maharashtra, Goa, Nepal||Makar Sankranti, Maghi Sankrant, Haldi Kumkum or Sankranti|
|Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia||Thai Pongal or Uzhavar Thirunal|
|Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab||Maghi|
|Assam||Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu|
|Kashmir Valley||Shishur Saenkraat|
|Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar||Sakraat or Khichdi|
|West Bengal, Bangladesh||Poush Sangkranti|
Karnataka – Suggi
In Karnataka, this variation of Makar Sankranti named Suggi is a celebration of the harvest of the previous year. On this day, the women from the families of farmers come together and exchange sweets. The importance of Makar Sankranti in Karnataka lies in this ritual is popularly known as “Ellu Birodhu”. Also, as cow and bulls come to the centre of farming families, a major ritual of this festival includes a procession where these animals are adorned and displayed in an open field.
In Andhra Pradesh, Makar Sankranti is a four-day festival namely Bhogi, Makar Sankranti, Kanuna and Mukkanuma. These four days mark a letting go of the past and welcoming the future that awaits us. The importance of Makar Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh emphasises on significant customs include feeding of animals, drawings rangolis, flying of kites and animal processions.
Assam – Magh Bihu/Magar Domahi
In Assam, Makar Sankranti is known as Magar Bihu and marks the end of the harvest season. The highlight of the festival is the feasting which lasts over a week, the bonfires and bullfighting. The importance of Makar Sankranti lies in feasting after the harvest and a significant tradition involve making of makeshift houses, cooking traditional delicacies and then burning them the best morning. As a part of this festival, sweets like Shunga Pitha, Til Pitha and Laru or Laskara are made and distributed among relatives.
Gujarat – Uttarayan
In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti, celebrated as Uttarayan is a two-day festival. The people across Gujrat celebrate it by flying kites and one this day you will see the skies if Gujrat swarmed with kites of different colours. Also, on this day dishes like Undhiyu and Chikkis are made and exchanged between families.
Punjab – Maghi
In Punjab, Makar Sankranti named as Maghi has a lot of religious significance and is it also symbolise the coming of warmer months. People bathe in the holy rivers and conduct Melas (carnivals) and light lamps which are symbolic of prosperity. Khichdi, kheer and jaggery is consumed and the traditional dance of Punjab i.e., Bhangra is performed.
So, this is all that you need to know about the importance of Makar Sankranti. Interested in pursuing Cultural Studies? Our Leverage Edu experts can help you find the right course and university as per your interests and aspirations! Sign up for a free session now! Happy Makar Sakranti!