Children

Harvest express

An occasion to look forward to longer days and a bountiful harvest   | Photo Credit: AP

In mid-January every year, the Sun begins a six-month-long journey northwards. This signals that the seasons are changing, with winter giving way to warmer days.

This is when Makara Sankaranti is celebrated. An occasion to look forward to longer days and a bountiful harvest, it is also an opportunity to be grateful for the countless gifts of nature.

The festival goes by many names in regions around the country. Hop on and take a tour, as we visit some of these places. Hold on tight; for, no matter where you go, you will definitely have a blast.

PUNJAB

Behold the bonfire

People celebrating Lohri.

People celebrating Lohri.   | Photo Credit: Anu Pushkarna

Stop at Ludhiana to light a huge bonfire and break into bhangra. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Join the people of Punjab in celebrating the festival of Lohri with gusto. The warmth of the fire seems to signal the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Observed a night before Makara Sankaranti, it is traditionally associated with the harvest season of rabi crops in the region and an occasion to offer respects to the Sun. Don’t forget to treat yourself to the special food items associated with this festival — gur rewri, peanuts and popcorn — in addition to other delicacies.

ASSAM

Feast and fun

A meji on the banks of the Brahmaputra.

A meji on the banks of the Brahmaputra.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

Get to Guwahati right in time for Magh Bihu, which marks the end of the harvest season. The essence of this celebration is eating with the community. On the eve of Bihu, known as Uruka, watch as youngsters build makeshift huts called bhelagar in the fields. Join in the revelry as the people prepare and eat plenty of food, while spiritedly singing and dancing around a bonfire known as the meji. Rise early the next morning and watch the meji burn down while people throw rice cakes and betel nuts into the fire. You can’t help but feel joyous!

TAMIL NADU

Pongal-o-pongal!

The people of Tamil Nadu celebrate the festival of Pongal over four days, with the third being Mattu Pongal.

The people of Tamil Nadu celebrate the festival of Pongal over four days, with the third being Mattu Pongal.   | Photo Credit: M. Periasamy

Make your way to Chennai for an unforgettable experience. The people of Tamil Nadu celebrate the festival of Pongal over four days. The festivities begin with Bhogi on day one when people clean their houses and get rid of all things unwanted. Get into the thick of the action on day two, when rice and milk are boiled in pots and offered to the sun god with gratitude. On day three, make friends with farmers as they decorate their cows for Maatu Pongal, and pitch in to help women and girls when they offer a feast for crows to eat. As the curtains fall on the festival with Kaanum Pongal, a day for family reunions and outings, you will find yourself already longing for next year’s Pongal!

GUJARAT

Colours in the sky

Kites dot the skies during Uttarayan at Gujarat

Kites dot the skies during Uttarayan at Gujarat   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

Make a beeline for Gujarat — Ahmedabad or Surat, Vadodara or Jamnagar — no matter where you find yourself, the enthusiasm is the same. The kite festival of Uttarayan can be loads of fun. Join in the fun, as screams of “kai po che” fill the air, or just prop yourself down and gaze at the thousands of vibrant kites in the sky. What’s more, the delicious treats add to the festive atmosphere.

No matter how you celebrate the harvest festival, one thing is certain: generous amounts of gratitude, hope and cheer is what the world needs right now. This season promises just that.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 8:27:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/how-makara-sankaranti-is-celebrated-across-india/article33556034.ece

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