The different flavours of Sankranti
Sankranti in different States of India
Do we take the time to think of where our food comes from? Who produced it? How did it reach us? This process is indeed one of the many things in life that we take for granted.
Makar Sankranti, India’s annual harvest festival seems like the perfect occasion to reflect on this. Celebrated to pay homage to the Sun God and the agricultural realm of the nation, Sankranti also marks the start of the spring season. As with most national festivals in India, Sankranti too, is celebrated differently in different parts of the country.
In Karnataka, the festival is known as ‘Suggi’ and is celebrated prominently in the regions of the Kaveri River basin. Considered as the occasion to share the good things in life, people wear new clothes and visit friends and family with plates piled with white sesame seeds, fried coconuts, jaggery, sugar cane and sugar candies. On this day bulls and cows are decorated and exhibited around the village and the men come together to fly kites – an age old ritual in this festival.
Sankranti in Tamil Nadu is celebrated with much grandeur as the four day festival of Pongal. On the first day, Boghi, houses are cleaned out and all old items are discarded and burned into a bonfire, marking the end of everything old and the emergence of a new beginning. The second day is the main day of the festival. Rice is boiled in decorated pots and when it bubbles out of the vessel, shouts of “Pongalo Pongal” are given. This dish served along with many other delicacies, as an offering to the Sun God, is shared with family and friends, as a gesture of thanking nature for the food that provides life. The 3rd day is known as Maatu Pongal, a day specially dedicated to cattle that have helped farmers in their agricultural chores. Cattle are decorated and fed with sugar cane and sweetened rice as a token of gratitude for their hard work and toil throughout the year. The 4th day is ‘Kaanum Pongal’, a day set aside to visit friends and families and celebrate the harvest.
In Kerala, Sankranti is celebrated by thousands of devotees who head to Sabarimala to view the lighting of the Makara Jyothi , followed by the Makara Vilakku celebrations.
Sankranti is known as Lohri in Punjab. Lohri is a festival celebrated culturally at the end of winter. Also associated with the harvest of the rabi crop, Punjabi farmers see Lohri as the beginning of a new financial year and is an important day for them. Sarson da saag and makki di roti is usually served as the main course at a Lohri dinner and singing and dancing are a common sight during the celebrations
Sankranti is known by a multitude of names across India – Bihu in Assam, Maghi in Haryana and Khichdi in Uttar Pradesh. Whatever the name , this festival symbolises an auspicious occasion, and a time to celebrate the value of human labour on land and everything good it has bestowed upon us.