‘Makar Sankranti’ is one of the most auspicious days for the Hindus. It is celebrated in almost all parts of the country. There are many cultural forms, great devotions, dedication and happiness. Traditionally, ‘Makar Sankranti’ begins when Sun moves northward [‘Uttarayan’] and the sun sign is ‘Makar’ [Capricorn]. According to the Solar calendar, ’Makar Sankranti’ always falls on 14th of January every year. People take a holy dip at Ganga Sagar, Prayag and pray to Sun God.
The Festival is celebrated with lots of pomp and glory. In southern parts of India, it is known as ‘Pongal’. In Punjab it is celebrated as ‘Lohri’ and ‘Maghi’. In Rajasthan and Gujarati, people respectfully look up to the sun. Also, they offer thousands of objects in colorful, beautiful kite forms displayed all over skyline. Festival introduces kite enthusiasts world-wide to the intriguing beauty and cultural diversity of India.
In Uttar Pradesh, ‘Sankranti’ is called ‘Khichiri’. On this day, taking a dip in holy rivers is regarded as most auspicious. Also, there is ‘Magha-Mela’, a big fair lasting for one month, at Prayag, Allahabad. Besides Triveni, ritual bathing spots include Haridvar, Garh Mukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh, and Patna in Bihar.
In West Bengal, ever year, there is a big ‘Mela’ at ‘Ganga Sagar’. At this point, the river Ganga divides into the rear area. This area dramatically reminds people of ashes of sixty thousand ancestors of King Bhagirath. In Maharashtra, on Sankranti day, people exchange multicolored tilguds made of til [sesame seeds] and sugar. Also they exchange ‘til-laddus’ made of ‘til’ and jaggery.
In Gujarat, there is a tradition of giving gifts to relatives. Gujarati pundits grant scholarships to students for higher studies in astrology and philosophy. Also, flying kites is associated with this festival in a major way. Hence, there is an internationally well-known kite-flying event.