Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated on 14th of January every year. Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition. There is a Sankranti every month when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next. It is celebrated almost in all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms and different names.

Legend has it !
The festival known as Uttarayan is dedicated to the Sun God and this Hindu festival marks the six months of auspicious period for Hindus. The importance of Uttarayan is exhibited in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, where Bhishma Pitamah waited for the sun to be in Uttarayan for him to die willingly.

Common rituals
Makar Sankranti is also known as festival of kites in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Colourful kites in the sky are a common view during this festival. The International Kite Festival is held at Ahmedabad on 14th of January every year. Kite festival is one of the most popular festivals of Jaipur.
This Hindu festival is believed to be a time for peace and prosperity. The day is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly people take a holy dip in rivers. The holy bath is believed to wash away sins.

Celebrations in various parts
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in many parts of South Asia with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different parts of the region. Sometimes, different festivals coincide on the same day such as Thai Pongal and Makar Sankranti.

In Haryana and Punjab, Makar Sankranti is known as Maghi. People wear new clothes, pray to God, and make offerings of traditional food to ancestors who have died. They also make beautiful and ornate drawings and patterns on the ground with chalk or flour in front of their homes.

In Bihar and Jharkhand, the festival is celebrated on 14–15 January.On 14th January, it is celebrated as Makar Sankranti or Sakraat. People take bath in rivers and feast upon seasonal delicacies as a celebration of good harvest. The delicacies include chura, jaggery and sweets made of til.

Hindu Calendar
On 15th January, it is celebrated as Makara when people relish special khichdi. People start their day by worshiping and putting til into fire and then eating dahi-chuda. The festive meal is traditionally made by women in groups. In the daytime people visit their neighbours and together enjoy khichdi with ghee and chaas and distribute these delicacies at Hindu temples.

In Delhi, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great zest andpassion. The brother of every married woman visits her home with a gift of some warm clothing for her and her husband’s family. It is called “Sidha”. Women used to give a gift to their in-laws, and this ritual is called “Manana”. Many fairs are held on Makar Sankranti the most famous being the Kumbha mela, held every 12 years.

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