Makara Sankranthi Festival in South India
Makara Sankranthi Festival in South India
Makara Sankranthi Festival is one of the main festivals of India. It is celebrated throughout of the country with great enthusiasm. It is also the Harvest Festival and Thanksgiving festival in India. This important festival is known by different names in various parts of India. For Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, it is known as Makara Sankranthi. For Andhritis it is also Pedda Panduga means big festival.This festival is celebrated as Pongal in Tamilnadu. In Kerala, another southern State of India, it is celebrated as Makara Vilakku where the famous Sabarimala Pilgrimage comes to an end with sighting of the Makaravilakku.
Importance of Makara Sankranthi
Sankranti festival is dedicated to the worship of Lord Surya (Sun God). Starting from Makara Sankranthi day to the next six months, the days are longer and warmer. Symbolically, the Sun slowly takes away darkness and ushers in the light of knowledge. The period is considered as auspicious in India, and referred as Uttharayana Punyakalam. This festival falls in the middle of January (Capricon zodaic).
Legends of Makara Sankranthi
There are some legends about this great festival, which are associated with various Gods.
1. Bhishma Pitamaha in the Mahabharata, the great epic of India, chose this auspicious day for his death. It is believed that people who die during Uttarayana period, merges with the Brahman, thus ending the cycle of rebirth.
2. Lord Surya visited his son Lord Shani on this day, forgetting about their difference of opinions. It teaches us that Sankranthi is a time for people to forget their enmity and become friends.
3. Yet another belief is that Lord Vishnu buried the demons on this day beneath the Mandara Mountain. It signifies the end of evil and the dawn of righteousness.
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Special Dishes for Makara Sankranthi
Special dishes are made during this occasion and celebrate the festival with great fanfare. In Karnataka, Some of the dishes prepared are Puliharam/Puliyogare, Ariselu, Kajjikayalu, Laddoo, Jantikalu etc. Sweets and puddings are prepared in every home. in the evening of Sankranthi day, people distribute Yellu, Sakkare Achchu, Sugarcane piece, Banana, Elachihannu to friends, neighbors and relatives.
In Andhra Pradesh, Sankranthi is celebrated for four days. The first day it is called Bhogi, (Sacred bonfire is the main ritual during Bhogi), second day is Sankranthi,(Main Sankranti day, the third day is Kanuma (is associated with the legend of lifting of Govardhan Giri by Lord krishna), 4th day Mukkanuma ( to worship cattle). People take oil bath before sunrise and be ready to welcome the Sun God with flowers and water, and pray to His blessings.
In Tamilnadu, Pongal is celebrated for 4 days (Bhogi ponga, Surya pongal, Maatu pongal and Kaanum pongal). Sankramana Snana or the ritual bath during Makara Sankramana is the most auspicious ritual observed along the banks of holy rivers like Cauvery, Pampa and Vaigai in Tamil Nadu. Taking a holy dip on the day is considered to cleanse sins committed and this will lead to Moksha (Salvation). The special dishes for Pongal include pongal recipes such as Sweet pongal, Ven pongal etc. The word Pongal, which literally means 'boiling over', refers to rice cooked in milk and jaggery.
New dresses are bought for this festival. Indians love celebrating festivals, and it is a main part of our culture. Discount sales are held during this festival in all the major cities.
In Kerala, Makaravilakku is a festival held at the shrine of Sabarimala. The Thiruvabharana procession is one of the important features of the Makaravilakku festival, the second part of the annual congregation is at the hill shrine of Sabarimala. An estimated half a million Ayyappa devotees flow to Sabarimala every year to have a darshan (vision) of this ritual.
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Sankranthi in Andhra Pradesh
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