Sankranti, Harvest Festival, Unites Us
By Someswar Bhagwat
Today, January 15 is the biggest festival of most Southern states in India and is also agriculture-linked one which makes it all the more important.Just as Id-ul-fitr is called just Id (festival]) among Muslims in Telugu it is called just Panduga (festival) or pedda (big) panduga. It is a festival of India’s unIty in diversity as the entire country celebrates it – with different names.
The festival, called Lohri in Punjab and Haryana, Bihu in Assam, Uttran (uttarayan) in Gujarat, Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Makar Sankranthi in most parts of India, is essentially a festival marking the harvesting of rabi crops and the end of winter. It is called Uttarayan as it marks the start of the Sun moving nearer to Earth’s northern hemisphere. When It goes soh it isut Dakshinayan
In the two Telugu states it is customary for the new son-In-law to be invited to spend his first Sankranti with the bride’s maternal family. A Telugu home on Sankranthi day is marked by Rangoli , dU
decOrative designs made normally with rice powder( these days with coloured stones powder)
In the western state of Gujarat where the west-wind blows it is kite-flying time and the sky is dotted with kites of various sizes, shapes and hues. The world kite contest was also held at Ahmedabad. Kites are flown all over India and contestants try to ‘cut’ the rivals’ kite . Glass powder is applied to the string for it to cut. This sometimes results in injuries and even death.
In Maharashtra it is also V Til Sankranti and everyone gives to others small packets with the oilseed til and pieces of jaggery in it saying “Tilgud kha ani goad goad bola” (eat til and jaggery and speak sweetly). Til may be having some food value and as people may not eat it otherwise this custom has been created.… like most Indian rituals As in all Indian events the planetary position determines the date. in my childhood it was Jan.13. then Jan14, now Jan.15. From 2081 it will be on Jan 16.
When a Maharashtrian friend sent me a message —
भास्करस्य यथा तेजो मकरस्थस्य वर्धते।
तथैव भवतां तेजो वर्धतामिति कामये।।
स0aर्वांना मकरसंक्रांतीच्या शुभेच्छा I first thought it was a greeting in Marathi which switched over to Devnaagri (Sanskrit and Hindi) from ‘modi’ script Then I realized that only the last line is in Marathi. The rest is good wishes in Sanskrit — the only national language for an all India festival.