Festivals play a major role in people’s heart in India. Being a spiritual country, Indians are zealous for celebrations. With varied festivals celebrated throughout every corner, Indian culture could be seen at its best during festive seasons.
During the winters it is mostly dry and cold throughout most of the Indian states. It becomes bland until the festive season arrives to retreat the cold. January is the month when India celebrates a common festival with different names in different states. In North India, makar sankranti is celebrated with full enthusiasm. People take holy bath in the Ganga which is believed to be cleaned from all sins. Makar Sankranti is the Hindu thanksgiving festival to the sun god and is also related to harvest and livestock. This is celebrated to commemorate the beginning of harvest season and cessation of the north east monsoon in South India.
The festival is celebrated as Lohri by the Sikh community. Lohri is celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti. Lohri is celebrated as also a bonfire festival all across the northern region. People burn fires amidst gardens or their house lawns and pay homage to the fire. They also sing and dance around it and for new born babies or the newly weds the festival is celebrated with added euphoria.
In Gujarat, people celebrate Uttarayan and it is meant to be an auspicious day in the entire region. Uttarayan is celebrated as a major kite festival where people indulge in kite flying competitions. In Gujarat, the festival is celebrated for 2 days, Uttarayan and Vasi Uttarayan. Uttarayan kites are made of light paper or bamboo and they are attached to a string which is meant to cut down other kites flying in the sky. When a kite cuts off another, people yell ‘Kai-po-Che’.
In Tamil Nadu, people celebrate Pongal for 4 days and on the day of Makar Sankranti it is known as Thai Pongal. It is also a harvest festival which is celebrated as a thanksgiving to cattle and the Sun god.
Special dishes prepared for this festival include chikkis, til ke laddoos (seasamme seeds), peanuts, jaggery, til barfis, popcorn, gajjak, revari, jalebis etc. All age groups enjoy themselves during the festival. Everyone gets enthusiastic over the celebrations while getting involved in kite flying, bonfire and not to forget food! The festival is celebrated as a source of enjoyment and happiness. Every season needs a greeting and a short break from daily monotony of life.
Every celebration is needed to be celebrated and enjoyed with safety. Lohri is the bonfire celebration, where fire is lit and people sit and move around the fire. Hence, safety is needed to be kept in mind.
You should wear cotton and comfortable clothes when being near fire and also keep a small fire extinguisher handy for your safety against fire. Bonfire must be enjoyed in an open area rather than inside your house. The fire should not be burnt near electric equipment or wires that might catch fire. You must know the safe measures of kite flying as wearing gloves and caps for protection of your head and fingers. Travelling across the country for ritual bath and visiting temples sound exciting but you should be careful nough to take care of yourself. Be handy with first aid and other safety products.
Festivals are meant to be enjoyed with joy. Hence, make this Makar Sankranti a happy and memorable one!
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