Makar Sankranti, which is one of the most auspicious days for the religion of Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion, fervour & gaiety. The festival of Makar Sankranti traditionally coincides with the starting of the Sun’s northward journey (the Uttarayan) when it enters the sign of Makar (the Capricorn). It falls on the 14th of January every year. Lakhs of people take a dip in places like the Prayag and Ganga Sagar and pray to Lord Sun.
It is celebrated with pomp in southern region parts of the country as Pongal, and in Punjab is celebrated as Maghi and Lohri. Rajasthan & Gujarati not only look reverentially up to the sun but also offer a wide range of their colourful oblations in the form of beautiful kites all over the skyline. The Festival introduces kite enthusiasts across the entire North region to the intriguing beauty and cultural diversity of India.
In the city of Uttar Pradesh, Sankranti is called by the name as ‘Khichiri’. Taking a dip in the holy rivers on this day is regarded as most auspicious. A big one-month long ‘Magha-Mela’ fair begins at Prayag (Allahabad) on this occasion. Apart from Triveni, some of the holy ritual bathings also take place at many places like Haridvar and Garh Mukteshwar in Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh.
In Bengal every year a very big Mela is held at Ganga Sagar where the river Ganga is believed to have dived into the nether region and vivified the ashes of the eighty thousands of ancestors of King Bhagirath. In Maharashtra, on the Sankranti day, people exchange multi-coloured clouds made from til (sesame seeds) and sugar and til-laddus made from til and jaggery.
In the state of Gujarat, there is a custom of giving gifts to relatives. The Gujarati Pundits on this auspicious day grant scholarships to students for higher studies in astrology and philosophy. Kite flying has been associated with this festival in a big way. It has become an internationally well-known event.