Makar Sankranti

This year looks interesting. Since my childhood (and may be my parent’s childhood too), the festival of Makar Sankranti, which marks the transition of Sun into the zodiac of Capricorn, has been falling on the 14th of January. But from this year, it will be on the 15th of January. So I have seen at least one effect of the tilt of earth in my lifetime!
The festival is a harvest festival, like many others in India, because of it being a primarily agrarian society.
There’s a tradition of donating grains on this day. A typical offering looks like above – rice, lentils, jaggery, sesame and some money. People have different interpretations for it but I feel the significance is of sharing one’s good fortune (harvest) with the less privileged. In fact in one of the cities where I have stayed as a child, there was a temple and people used to donate so much grain that the temple used to overflow with it and you couldn’t really walk into the temple without stepping on some of it!
It’s interesting that the festival is celebrated with equal gusto in almost all parts of India, since old times. I sometimes really wonder how these traditions spread from one part of the country to another, when travelling was not an easy option and very few people, mostly traders, traveled. May be someone has researched on this topic and someday I’ll be able to read about that.
Since having fun is also an essential part of the festivities, so on Makar Sankranti, people have fun by flying kites! In many parts of India, you can see the sky dotted with colorful kites on this day. There are also fetes (“mela”) held in many places with vendors selling handicrafts and food items. Besides all this, the day also marks the beginning of auspicious time for people to do something of importance. I guess that could be because the winter is supposed to start receding from this day.
Let’s see what other new things happen this year. For now, I will enjoy my “khichdi” and “til-gud” like the rest of my country-people!


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