Today it is the last day of the month posh as in the Hindu calender or you may say the calender started by Kanishka Maharaja.But some may consider that sankranti was on 14 January.This occurs particularly because of the tithis in panjika which are based on movement of sun and stars.On this day people take early morning bath in the rivers, thanking the Sun god.On this day according to Indic Solstice the sin enters the zodiac sign Makar or Capricorn.
Let me start with the state where I live its Assam and here people call it Bhogali Bihu.Since it is a harvesting festival ,so the food items are mostly prepared from the crop products, they are called pithas. Pit has are of different types there is Narikal pitha which is cylindrical shaped and laddoos are made from sesame. People sing and dance on bihu songs, they sit around bonfires particularly because it is winter out here.
Next I’ll talk about my native state West Bengal, even in this place various types of pithas are prepared.Traditionally there was a rule that the women of the house would bath at night and they would sit near the bonfire to prepare the pithas and their male counterparts would guard the house.On the night of sankranti thieves generally try stealing pithas and other households , so it was necessary to protect the house.
Here is a story that I’m sharing.First hand you must know that in some parts of Assam the homes are made using and the walls are bamboo walls which can be removed when necessary.Last year after sankranti our maid servant didn’t come to work for almost a week. We were quite angry with her because we thought she had left without any premonitions.
After a few days when she visited us, she was completely devasted.When asked the reason , she said” Didi I had to construct a new house”, ” why, What happened to the old one?” I asked, she started crying and between sobs she replied “The theives they took everything with them including the walls,except the bed where I was sleeping.” This winter she had a brick walled house prepared.I guess there should be no more problem.
Coming back to food and pit has I must say a variety are prepared here .Some with rice powder,flour, milk, coconut etcetera.
Next comes the south Indian state Tamil Nadu here it is called Thai pongal.On this day people boil rice in large sauce pans in their porch under the sun and add milk , cardamom, green nuts in it.This is a sweet dish .They wear new clothes.But this traditional system is not followed nowadays.
Even if we consider the pithas of Assam and Bengal they are prepared almost two-three days prior to the main day. Its just because of the busy lives of people that we have to consider such shortcuts.
Now moving towards the state of Punjab .Here the festival is called Lohri, celebrated to mark the end of Winter.People dance bhangra and gidda around bonfire.Some people they move door to door singing songs.They are never returned empty handed. The punjabis prepare Sarso da saga,Makki Di roti, Gajak during Lohri.
Some sections of Sindhi call it as La Loi.
In andhra Pradesh the day preceding sankranti is called Bhogi on this day people forget about old things and discard them , then start on a new way.
In Gujarat Major Sankranti is celebrated by Kite flying and is called Uttarayan. Then kite or manjha is prepared in the homes of Gujarat a month prior to the festival.Iti marks the beginning of Summer.
Currently this festival is celebrated as an International festival in Gujarat.People from different countries participate here.People are served with Jalebis and Undhiyu.
So wishing everyone a Happy Makar sankranti I stop here.