Bhubaneswar: Makar Sankranti marks the transit of the Sun from the Southern Hemisphere to the north as the days get longer than the nights.
While Makar Sankranti is most popular in West India, down south, the festival is known as Pongal. Uttarayan, Maghi, Khichdi are some other names of the same festival. A day before Makar Sankranti is Lohri, the Punjabi harvest festival.
According to the Hindu calendar, Makar Sankranti is also celebrated as the harvest festival and marks the arrival of spring. The day is synonymous to kite flying too. People across India are seen on their rooftops and sky fills up with colourful kites.
This day also marks the end of winter and celebrates the harvest of the Rabi crop. According to some beliefs, the tradition of kite flying on Makar Sankranti is being carried out so that people are exposed to the sun rays. Sunning is believed to get rid of the skin infections and illnesses associated with winter.
Pongal festivities begin with people boiling the harvested rice and making an offering to the sun god. Other traditions include drawing kolam (drawing or rangoli made from rice flour, chalk and chalk powder), playing on a swing and cooking traditional delicacies. As part of the celebration, people adorn new clothes and spend the four days amidst family and friends.
It doesn’t matter by what name Makar Sankranti is called across the country but people celebrate and enjoy the day with great fervour and festivity. This is the time when people pay their respect to the Gods for the bountiful harvest and also pray for a fruitful and better year.