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Makar Sankranti: An Auspicious Day Celebrated Across Different States of India

Celebrated throughout the country, Makar Sankranti is a festivity marked by kites, sweetmeats and bonfires. The festival of Sankranti gets its name from the movement of the sun into the Capricorn constellation (also known as Makara). While it is observed on its date based on the solar calendar, it has its roots in the fact that India is an agricultural land and the harvest period that falls in the month of January, is a celebration throughout India.

Significance of this Festival

The festival of Makar Sankranti marks the end of the stretched months of winter and signals the onset of spring. The seasonal cycle slides into a milder phase from the cold arduous months of November and December. It is a symbol of nature telling us to start anew. It is also a celebration of thanking the Sun- the constant source of life, energy and warmth. For farming communities, Sankranti is a significant time of the year. They celebrate the abundance of their harvest and the start to a gentler phase of the year. There is also an old belief in Hinduism, that Sankranti was a religious deity that ended the terror of a demon called Sankarasur.

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Which states in India celebrate Makar Sankranti?

The festival of Sankranti is celebrated in several states of our country and is given a new name and identity everywhere. In the North East India and West Bengal, Sankranti is known as Magh Bihu and Pousha Sankranti respectively, Tamil Nadu calls it Thai Pongal, in Gujarat it gets the name of Vasi Uttarayan, and Punjab celebrates it as the fun-filled festival of Maghi. It is also celebrated in Kerala, where it gets the identity of Makara Vilakku. Not only in India, Makar Sankranti is also celebrated in Nepal, Cambodia and Thailand, with a lot of excitement and fervor.

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How is Sankranti celebrated?

Every festival celebrated throughout the world is characterized by one or more special elements. Sankranti is celebrated differently in different regions of India. In Maharashtra, it is the festival of kite-flying. The sky is dotted with colorful kites and the kitchen is wrapped in an aroma of ghee, gud and til (sesame seeds), which is rolled into laddoos (sweetmeats). Halwa, poorna poli accompany the other delicacies on this occasion. While in Goa, goddess Lakshmi is worshiped on Sankranti. Til-gur sweets are also prepared here. The people of Andhra Pradesh mark this day by decorating rangolis. A dip in the holy river, is what starts off Sankranti in Rajasthan. Uttarakhand hosts the eclectic Uttarayani mela (fair) which becomes a thrilling hotspot of cultural dance performances and folk songs for the people visiting from other parts of the country. The thought that underlines the different practices of Sankranti, by people of different states in India, is bringing together loved ones, expressing gratitude to nature and being joyous.

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Makar Sankranti sweets to indulge in

  1. Til Laddoos– This popular Sankranti sweetmeat, is almost the highlight of this entire celebration. Til (white and black sesame seeds) and jaggery are the main ingredients of this dish. Nonetheless, this delicacy is incomplete without the sumptuousness of ghee.
  2. Chikki– Another sweetmeat that Indians relish during the winter season is chikki. A flat brittle that is made up of jaggery, peanuts and sometimes other dry fruits as well, chikki is a chunky piece of extra sweet biscuit.
  3. Murmura ladoos- If we are talking about laddoos and Sankranti sweets, we surely cannot miss out on this one. A puffed rice and jaggery treat, this crispy laddoo is a real treat.

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The Heartthrob of this occasion

Sankranti is incomplete without the delightful urad Khichdi prepared in ghee. A culmination of rice and lentils being cooked together, Khichdi is also the reason for the Khichdi fair celebrated in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. The dish being cooked in a single pot, also symbolizes unity.

A blend of devotion and belief, with a touch of science, Makar Sankranti binds the entire country in a single and strong-threaded emotion of gratitude and happiness.

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