Makar Sankranti is one of the most important festivals of the Hindu calendar and celebrates the sun’s journey into the northern hemisphere, a period which is considered to be highly auspicious.
There is a wide variation in the celebration of Makar Sankranti thoughout India, in particular the name.
Celebrations in different Indian regions
In Gujarat and Maharashtra, Makar Sankranti is a festival of the young and the old. Colourful kites are flown all around.
In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is called Lohri. December and January are the coldest months of the year in Punjab and huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankranti. Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown on the bonfires and friends and relatives gather together.
In Uttar Pradesh, this period is celebrated as Kicheri. It is considered important to have a bath on this day and masses of people can be seen bathing in the Sangam at Prayagraj where the rivers Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswathi flow together.
In Southern India it’s the harvest festival Pongal and lasts for 3 days. On the first day, rice boiled with milk is offered to the Rain God. On the second day, it is offered to the the Sun God and on the third day, the family cattle are given a bath and dressed with flowers, bells and colours, to honour them for their hard work in the fields.