Makara Sankranthi is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in different ways, with pomp and great devotion.People take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar the point where the river Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal and Prayag and pray to the Sun God. In southern parts of the country, it is celebrated as Pongal, and in Punjab as Maghi, while in Gujarat, the celebrations are even bigger. People offer thousands of their colourful oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites.
The act stands as a metaphor for reaching to their beloved God, the one who represents the best. In Gujarat, it is one of the major festivals celebrated for two days--Uttarayan and Vasi Uttarayanstale.
Gujaratis keenly await this festival to fly kites. Undhiyu mixed winter vegetable and chikkis made from til (sesame), peanuts and jaggery are the special festival recipes savoured on this day. The festival is also to honour, worship and to pay respect to Saraswati Goddess of Knowledge. At the start of this significant event, there is also worship for the departed ancestors. Laddu of til made with jaggery is a speciality of the festival.In Maharashtra, it is called 'Tilgul'. In Karnataka it is called 'Yellu-Bella'. In some states, cattle are decorated with various colours and are made to jump over a bon-fire. On that day, people exchange multi-coloured tilguls made from til (sesame seeds) and sugar and til-laddus made from til and jaggery. Gul-polis jaggery (stuffed flat bread) are prepared for lunch. While exchanging tilguls as tokens of goodwill, people greet each other saying - 'til-gul ghya, god god bola' meaning 'accept these tilguls and speak sweet words'. The under-lying thought in the exchange of tilguls is to forget the past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends.
In Kerala, it is celebrated at Sabarimala where the Makara Jyothi is visible followed by the Makara Vilakku celebrations. The 40 days anushthana by the devotees of Ayyappan ends on this day in Sabarimala with a big festival.In Andhra Pradesh, it is a four-day celebration; Bhogi, Makara Sankranthi Pedda Panduga, Kanuma and Mukkanuma. Also in Tamil Nadu, it is a four-day festival. Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal, Mattu Pongal and Kannum Pongal.
In the coastal regions, it is a harvest festival dedicated to Lord Indra. Celebrations in Goa closely resemble to that in Maharashtra. The men hardly take part in the celebrations but it is the women folk who celebrate 'haldi-kumkum'
In Rajasthan, it is known as "Makar Sakrat". This day is celebrated with sweets like Ghevar, Til-paati, Gajak, Kheer, etc. People invite friends and relatives to their home for special festival meals called as "Sakrat Bhoj".
In Uttar Pradesh, as per Hindu mythology, people gather at their respective sacred places for this holy bathing such as Allahabad,
Haridwar and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Winter's sweet delight, "tilkut" are savoured on Makar Sankranti along with traditional dahi chura (curd with rice flakes). The delicacy could be seen being sold all over the city in sweet shops, small food joints and makeshift roadside stalls this season.
In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great gusto.
It is said that from this day, which signals a change of season, the migratory birds start returning to the hills. On that day, people give Khhichadi, a mixture of pulses and rice in charity, take ceremonial dips in holy rivers, participate in the Uttarayani fairs and celebrate the festival of Ghughutia or Kale Kauva.
In Orissa, people prepare makar chaulaun cooked newly harvested rice, banana, coconut, jaggery, sesame, rasagola, khoi and chhena puddings for naivedya to gods and goddesses. The withdrawing winter entails change in food habits and intake of nourishing and rich food.
Therefore, this festival also holds immense scientific significance. In the temple of Lord Jagannath this festival is observed as 'Uttarayana Yatra'.
In Assam, the festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu. In Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh, this festival is known by the name 'Sakarat' and is celebrated with great pomp and merriment accompanied by a lot of sweets.
In West Bengal, it is known as Poush Sankranti after the Bengali month in which it falls, is celebrated as a harvest festival Poush Parbon Bengali. The freshly harvested paddy along with the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur Bengali and Patali Bengali is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and 'khejurer gur' (palm jaggery) and known as Pithey Bengali. All sections of society participate in a three-day festival. It begins on the day before Sankranti and ends on the day after. The Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped on the day of Sankranti.
In the Himalayan regions of Darjeeling, the festival is known as Magey Sakrati. It is distinctly associated with the worship of Lord Shiva.
Traditionally, people were required to take a bath before sunrise and then commence their puja. The food that is consumed consists primarily of sweet potatoes and various yams.
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