Makara Sankranti-Pongal Festival Story And Its Significance
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Makara Sankranti-Pongal is a popular Indian festival. is one of the most auspicious occasions for the Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of India in a myriad of cultural forms, with great devotion, fervour, and gaiety. It is an Indian Harvest Festival, The bullock festival, cattle festival. Makara Sankranti is perhaps the only Indian festival whose date always falls on the same day every year ie 14 January and In Andhra pradesh Hindus celebrate this festival for four days. First day is Bhogi, second day Makara Sankranti, third day is Kanuma and the Fourth day as Mukkanuma.
In Andhrapradesh Sankranti is also called as ‘Pedda’ or ‘Peddala’ Panduga. ‘Pedda’ means big and ‘Panduga’ means a festival. It is a festival, when prayers and offerings are made to ancestors.
In India, the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Sikkim, Jharkhand Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, West Bengal, Gujarat Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Tamil Nadu celebrate the festival with great devotion, fervour and gaiety.
In Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Sikkim, Jharkhand Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchaland West Bengal this festival was known as Makara Sankranti-Sankranti
In Gujarat and Rajasthan this festival was known as Uttarayan
In Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab this festival was known as Lohiri-Lohri & Maghi
In Tamil Nadu this festival was known as Pongal
In Assam Valley this festival was known as Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu
In Kashmir Valley this festival was known as Shishur Saenkraat
In Sabarimala Temple (Kerala) this festival was known as Makara Vilakku Festival
Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti is transition. There is a sankranti every month when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next. There are twelve signs of the zodiac, and thus there are twelve sankranti’s as well. Each of these sankranti’s has its own relative importance but two of these are more important – the Mesh (Aries) Sankranti and the most important, the Makar (Capricorn) Sankranti. Transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn, during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is known as Makar Sankranti. From this day begins the six-month long Uttarayana, considered very auspicious for attaining higher worlds hereafter. While the traditional Indian Calendar is basically based on lunar positions, but sankranti is a solar event, so while dates of all festivals keep changing, the english calendar date of Makar Sankranti is always same, 14th January. Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha. There is another significance of this day, after this day the days start becoming longer & warmer, and thus the chill of winter in on decline.
How to celebrate Makara Sankranti-Pongal Festival
The Sankranti festival is a three days long Harvest festival celebrated.
The First Day is ‘Bhogi’
The first day is celebrated as Bhogi festival in honor of Lord Indra, the supreme ruler of clouds that give rains. On Bhogi day people get up in the early morning, a bon fire is lit up with waste, before the traditional special bath. The streets are swept clean and beautiful rangolis are drawn by women. They make Gobbemmas made from cowdung and decorated with flowers are placed before each house, welcoming the Goddess of Wealth. People pick up some ash from the bhogi fire & rub it on their foreheads.
In the evening many homes with children (below 4-5 years) arrange Bommala Koluvu (arrangement of images of Gods, toys and dolls) and Bhogi pallu (Zyziphus fruits, floral petals and coins) are poured on children for their health, Perantamu (gift giving that includes clothes, lentils, betel leaves, betel nuts, flowers, turmeric and kumkuma) for women are given. In some areas girls gather round and dance singing “Gobbiallo” in chorus.
The Second Day is ‘Sankranti’
The second day is celebrated as Sankranti-Pongal festival, the puja or act of ceremonial worship is performed when new rice, new jaggery and fresh milk is boiled outdoors in a earthenware pot(matti kunda), turmeric plant is tied around the pot in which the rice will be boiled. The offerings include the two sticks of sugar-cane in background and coconut and bananas in the dish. A common feature of the puja, in addition to the offerings, is the kolam(Muggu), the auspicious design which is traditionally traced in white lime powder before the house.
The prepared pongal (sweet food) is offered to Sun God. Then offerings are made to forefathers. All the people wear new clothes. Alms are given to the poor. It is a day of enjoyment. If possible people take a dip in holy rivers and offer prayers. A dip in the Ganges on Makara Sankranti day is considered sacred.
The Third And Fourth Day is ‘Kanuma’ and ‘Mukkanuma’
The third day Kanumu-pasuvula Pandaga is a day meant for cattle(cow, bull etc.), so this day is also called as The bullock festival, cattle festival. All cattle are given a bath. They are dressed and decorated with flowers, tinkling bells around their necks, Horns are painted and then are worshiped. Cattle are fed with cooked sweet rice. People who eat non veg cooks non veg as special dish on this day.
In the evening races are conducted for bulls to draw carts and to draw big stones. Heavy prize amounts are awarded to the victorious.
Overall Sankranti is a festival of joy and happiness for all.
Special Attractions on Makara Sankranti-Pongal Festival
Haridasu (servant of Lord Hari/Vishnu) is a special attraction of this festival, Haridaasu wake up very early in pre-dawn hours, bathe, wear special saffron clothes, and visit each home in the village. They wear Vaishnavite markings on the face, necklaces of rudraksha beads, flower garlands, Veena (stringed musical instrument) on one shoulder, chirutalu (castanets) in one hand, anklets with bells, etc., and visit homes while singing religious songs (Vaishnavite, especially praising Lord Rama). They collect alms (especially rice), provided by the villagers, in a pot called akshayapaatra carried on the head.
On Bhogi and sankranti Hindus made Gobbillu-Gobbemmalu with cow dung (avu peda). And put these gobbillu on centre of Muggu.
Gangireddulu & Janagamayyalu:
Gangireddu is a decorational Ox. This is symbol of Vechicle of Lord Shiva Nandi. People of named Gangireddulu vallu beg and bless each family.
Jangamayyalu are symbols of Lord Shiva. They walk one home to another and beg food grains. They blessed all and gives vibhudhi powder to all.
Women enthusistically perform the Rangoli thing. Even they participate in Rangoli competitions. Rangoli is known as Muggu in Telugu and Kolam in Tamil. muggulu are make by rice flour or marble powder and colour powders.
Special Dishes-Pindi Vantalu Made on Makara Sankranti-Pongal :
Andhra Pradesh- Ariselu, Appalu, Bandaru Ladoo, Kajji Kaayalu, bobbatlu, boorelu, pulihora (Lemon Rice), Chekkalu, palathalikalu (rice flour savoury), semiya payasam (sweet vermicilli dessert), paramannam (Rice with sweet jaggery-Bellam)
Telangana – sakinalu
Maharashtra- Til laddus, Til Poli (dishes made from sesame seeds and jaggery)
Bengal- Sweets made of khejur gur, Khichuri (a delicacy made of rice and yellow lentils), Gokul Pithe (made of coconut, jaggery and khoya)
Karnataka – Ellu Bella, a platter of consisting of Ellu ( a mixture of white sesame seeds, groundnuts and coconut) and bella (jaggery) with candies and other special eatables is distributed between different families of the community.
Rajasthan- Sweets like ghevar, til paati, kheer, gajak
Uttar Pradesh- Sweet foods made of til (sesame seeds) and jaggery
Bihar- Chura and sweets made of til and jaggery such as Tilkut, Maswa and Tilwa
Kumaon – khichadi a dish made of rice and lentils
Punjab- Kheer, a sweet made of cooked rice and milk, is the traditional food
Tamil Nadu- dishes made of new boiled rice and other items like murukku, vadai and payasam
Orrisa- Apart from the items made of sesame seeds and jaggery, one gets to see bananas, boiled rice, and the very popular rasagulla on the oriya makar sankranti menu
Makara Sankranti-Pongal Festival History
The history behind Makar Sankranti holds it s significance of being the day of religious significance. With Sun entering the Northern Hemisphere the day and nights become equal on this day and days become longer and nights become shorter. It is also said a day of victory of good over evil as on this day Lord Vishnu conquered the terror of demons and buried them under the Manadara Parvata. Makar Sankranti is also termed as very auspicious even in the epics of Mahabharata. Bhisma Pitamaha after being wounded in the battle field chose to wait for the Uttarayan to set in so that he would get salvation and free himself from the cycle of rebirth. The festival is also given due importance in the Sikh communities as the tenth Sikh Guru Govind Singh brought Moksha, Salvation or Mukhti for fourteen Sikhs. Makar Sankranti is marked as the starting point for all the festivals fall throughout the year.