Here’s a blog on one of my favourite festival Sankranthi or Pongal . Hope you guys like it and get to know few interesting facts about culture and heritage behind this three day festival celebrated in India. From flying kites to eating flavorsome sweets and savouries i spend my childhood enjoying this festival in my grandparents house.
Makar Sankranti is one of the most important festivals of Hindus celebrated all over India. It marks the beginning of Uttarayana or travelling of Sun towards north. Sun enters in Makar rashi on this auspicious day. “Makar” means the zodiac sign capricorn and “Sankranthi” means entrance. Uttarayana is considered as very auspicious period by Hindus. This first day of Uttarayana is celebrated as makar sankranti. This festival falls on 14th January of each year as it is based on solar calendar.
Makara Sankranti, is a harvest festival in Andhra Pradesh as is the case in other parts of India.This is the festival where all the harvest is gathered (Paddy, Ragi etc) and then decorated and offered prayers and then finally taken to the warehouse to store them. An important ritual is display of cows and cattle in colourful costumes in an open field.
Bhogi and Bhogipallu festival
The first day is celebrated as Bhogi. On this day people wake up early in the morning and take oil bath. They lit fire in front of their houses dropping all waste clothes and other waste materials into it. Homes are washed neat and clean and door entrances are decorated by applying turmeric and kumkum at the bottom side of door frames. Rangolis (kolam or muggu) are drawn with colourful rice powder and lime mixed powders or chalk pieces or paints. In the centre and corners of it, they place big pumpkin flowers on cow dung balls and dance around it singing sankranthi songs. Houses with children celebrate this day by showering mixture of Bhogi pallu or goose berries(local berries), flowers, coins, rice, etc. on children’s head to protect them from evil eyes or sights.
Makar Sankranthi (Big festival) or Pongal
The second day is celebrated as Sankranthi big festival also known as Thai Pongal or Pongal. The pongal dish is prepared on this day and offered to God. The temples are thronged by devotees. This is actually regarded as harvest festival. Harvesting is over by this time and all homes are full of new grains. The pongal is prepared with these new rice. The daughters and son-in-laws come home and get treated with love and affection and receive gifts from parents and brothers.
The third day is celebrated as Kanuma or Mattu Pongal. Mattu pongal is a kind of reverence to cattle. Cattle are of major help in agriculture. So as a thanksgiving, they are specially worshipped on this day by bathing them and decorating with love and respect. It is considered on Kanuma day by some traditions, especially in Andhra, that eating something prepared of black gram dal is a must on this day. Generally people prepare vada (or ‘Garelu’ in Telugu) and eat them after offering to God.
Traditional Food – important to any Indian festival.
Most native Andhra homes celebrate the most auspicious Thanksgiving festival, Sankranti with traditional festive foods like Kalagaya kura,kajjikayalu,murukulu, Ariselu,chekkalu and Teepi Punugulu. Each region and each home have their own versions of festive preparations. Whatever the custom, you can be assured that each home will prepare a special dish to usher in the harvest season and offer thanks to nature, the sacred cow and beloved ancestors.
kite flying – My favourite part
For days preceding the festival of Makar Sankranti, the markets are filled with colourful kites. They are all waiting to be bought by the heaps.The kite flying is by no means a friendly pass time that people indulge in for Pongal. Some closely fought contests take place mid air. Save your kite and bring the other person’s down is the name of the game.
Manjha is the thread tied to the kites. It is made by specific communities. Each colour stands for a specific community. It is not just a regular thread. Manjha is coated with powdered glass, making it extremely sharp.
Cockfighting spikes in coastal Andhra Pradesh during Sankranti
Despite the Supreme Court upholding a ban on cockfighting, people in coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh organised this bloodsport on large scale during the three-day Sankranti festivities.During the festivities there was also a spike in betting and gambling which are illegal in Andhra Pradesh.
Despite the administration’s claims that were taking stringent action to curb cockfights, people in Krishna, West Godavari, East Godavari and parts of Visakhapatnam districts conducted their traditional winter sport without any hurdles.Hundreds of arenas were arranged amidst lush green fields to for the cockfights. Tents were erected with seating arrangements for thousands of people coming from different parts of the state.
Jallikattu: The bull-taming festival takes place in Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu is a tradition practiced to worship cattle stock, celebrated during the festival of Pongal, mainly in Tamil Nadu. Jallikattu is a sport where a bull is released into a crowd of people and the participants try to hold on to its hump for as long as they can, attempting to tame it.
The Jallikattu festival has seen recent controversy in the country, with the sport being banned by the Supreme Court in 2014. In 2017, the Governor of Tamil Nadu issued a new ordinance that authorized the continuation of Jallikattu events.