Festivals in India

Festivals in India

Context: Several cultural celebrations/harvest festivals are held across many states of India under different names – Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu, Lohri etc. on January 14.

Makarsankranti
• Makar Sankranti, also known as Uttarayana, is a Hindu festival celebrated annually on January 14 (or January 15 in a leap year).
• It signifies the sun\'s transition into the zodiac sign of Capricorn (Makara), marking the end of the winter solstice and the beginning of longer days.
• It is dedicated to the solar deity Surya, Makar Sankranti is a festival of immense cultural, religious, and agricultural significance observed throughout India.
• It is celebrated under various names across India and neighboring countries, including Pongal, Magh Bihu, Uttarayana, and others.

What rituals are part of Makarsankranti? How is it celebrated?
• Punya Kaal rituals: Activities like bathing, offering Naivedhya to the Sun god, charity, Shraddha rituals, and breaking the fast are performed during Punya Kaal.
• Sacred River Bathing: Worshippers often take a dip in sacred rivers such as the Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery to cleanse themselves of sins.
• Social festivities include colorful decorations, melas (fairs), and dances. In Gujarat, the festival is celebrated with kite flying, symbolizing breaking free from the past and reaching new heights.
• Bonfires are lit, symbolizing the end of winter, especially in regions like Punjab.

Pongal
• • • Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in the state of Tamil Nadu. The festival extends for four days and is dedicated to the Sun god.
• The term \'Pongal\' refers both to the festival and the dish prepared during the celebrations.

Lohri
• Lohri is a popular Punjabi festival celebrated primarily by Sikhs and Hindus.
• It marks the end of winter and the arrival of longer days. This festival is especially significant for communities in the Punjab region of India.
• The day holds cultural and traditional significance, as it is associated with the harvest season and the winter solstice.

Bihu
• Bihu is a set of three Assamese festivals—Magh Bihu, Bohag Bihu, and Kati Bihu—celebrated in the state of Assam, India. Each Bihu marks a different agricultural stage and season.
• Magh Bihu (Bhogali Bihu) is celebrated in January, it marks the end of the harvesting season.
• Magh Bihu involves community feasts where traditional Assamese sweets and dishes are shared.
• Magh Bihu is marked by the lighting of bonfires, and people participate in traditional Assamese games like buffalo fights.
• In Magh Bihu, makeshift huts called \'Meji\' and \'Bhelaghar\' are constructed and later burned, symbolizing the end of the harvesting season. 

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