The day of 14th January, is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India and is a traditional event. Makar Sankranti is celebrated in almost all parts of India. It is a harvest festival which is celebrated with the worship of the Lord 'Surya Dev' in different cultural forms. Makar Sankranti has a profound spiritual significance and refers to a transitional phase.
Makar Sankrati is probably the only Hindu festival which falls on the same date every year. Hindu tradition follows the position of moon and hence based on lunar calendar. So the dates of the festivals change every year, however ‘Sankranti’ is the only festival in India which follows the solar calendar. Hence the festival falls on the same date every year, it is stated that once every eighty years, due to revolution, the day is postponed by one day.
The festival is usually celebrated by lighting a bonfire, feeding animals and flying kites. It is often considered the start of the month of Mah in the Hindu Solar calendar. It also marks the auspicious beginning of Hindu New Year and on this day North Indian states people take holy dip in river Ganges.
To celebrate the harvest season, the Lohri festival is celebrated amidst great gaiety and splendour in Punjab. The festival is celebrated with bonfires, singing and dancing. It takes place on the last day on the Punjabi month of Poh and marks the end of the winter season.
In Tamil Nadu, Pongal is a four days festival that starts on (Friday) 15 January and the most important day of Pongal is known as Thai Pongal. Thai Pongal which is the second day of the four days festivity is also celebrated as Sankranti. The day before Thai Pongal is known as Bogi Pandigai, (same day as lohri) is celebrated in North. On this day people clean their homes and light bonfire to discard unused items. Thai Pongal day is celebrated by boiling freshly harvested rice with fresh milk and jaggery in a new clay pot.
The President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee has also greeted his fellow countrymen on the eve of festivals of Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal, which fall on January 13th, 14th and 15th respectively. In his message the President has said, "On the auspicious occasion of Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal, I extend warm greetings to my fellow citizens and wish them success, happiness and prosperity. Let us celebrate these harvest festivals with gaiety and fervour, promoting love and understanding amongst all. May these events bind the communities and regions of India in fraternal love and inspire us to work for the unity and progress of our country”.
Kite flying is an integral part of such celebrations throughout the country. Women also dress up in their best attires and perform Puja for prosperity and thank for the good harvest. Indeed festivals are the time to remain happy and be merry!