14 JanMakar Sankranti
As the Sun transits into the zodiac sign of Capricorn on its celestial path (13th & 15th January), marking the end of the winter solstice (when the days begin to be longer than nights) and last not the least it is harvest time thus time for celebrations and giving thanks to the nature. Main ingredient of any celebration or festival is the food and/or the sweet – during this time largely one will see use of jaggery (panela), sesame seed and rice in the preparations.
The festival largely known as Makar Sankranti is celebrated all over the country it just has different customs and name – depending on the place it could be either celebrated on 13th or the 15th. So briefly here is the list of places to be in India on these dates:
Tamil Nadu: Known as Pongal – it is their most important festival or their New Year. It is celebrated over a period of 4 days including thanks giving to the nature, very many rituals and ceremonies including praying and adorning their cattle which are crucial in farming. Kolam decorations (rice flour or white chalk powder) are made in front of the house. Very many dishes are made and the main dish goes by the name of Pongal itself which is the newly cultivated rice cooked with milk and jaggery (panela).
Gujarat: Called Uttarayan, it is celebrated for 2 days on 14th & 15th January. It is synonymous with kite flying in this part of the country so much so that now we have an International Kite Festival that takes place around these dates in the city of Ahmedabad.
Maharashtra: Known as Makar Sankranti – is the day for kite flying like the neighbouring Gujarat. The married ladies get together for ceremonies and rituals celebrating their being married, exchanging ball shaped sweets called laddus made of sesame seed and jaggery.
Punjab, Delhi & Haryana: In North India where the winter is at its peak, it is celebrated as the festival of Lohri – on the 13th. In the night people get together around a bonfire, offering prayers to the fire thus offering to the nature; also offered are sweet treats made of sesame & jaggery; corn and rice; along which there is lot of singing & dancing. During these days it is considered auspicious to bathe in the river at sunrise thus throughout the country at the banks of the rivers there would be fairs and festivities. It is highly recommended that if you are traveling to these parts of the country between 13-15th January do join in the celebrations and festivities and thus aiding in your Holiday Made Special.