Makar SankrantiSankranti is the Sanskrit word in Indian Astrology which refers to thetransmigration of the Sun from one Rāshi (sign of the zodiac) to another.The Sankranti festival usually refers to Makara Sankranti, or the transition ofthe Sun from Dhanu rashi (Sagittarius) to Makara rashi (Capricorn). Thefestival takes place around 21 days after the winter solstice (betweenDecember 20 and 23) that marks the starting of the phenomenon ofnorthward apparent migration of the sun or Uttarayana, literally meaningnorthward journey of Sun. Makar Sankranti is a major harvest andthanksgiving festival celebrated in various parts of India. It commemoratesthe beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoonin South India. Makar Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is alsoregarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is saidas the holy phase of transition. It marks the end of an inauspiciousphase.Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer dayscompared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination ofwinter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.
Mythological and cultural significanceAccording to the Puranas, on this day Surya(Sun) visits the house ofhis son Shani(Saturn), who is the lord of the Makar rashi(ZodiacCapricorn)It was on this day when Lord Vishnu ended the ever increasing terrorof the Asuras(Demons) by finishing them off and burying their headsunder the Mandara Parvata. So this occasion also represents the end ofnegativities and beginning of an era of righteous living.Maharaja Bhagiratha, performed great penance to bring Ganga downto the earth for the redemption of 60,000 sons of Maharaj Sagar, whowere burnt to ashes at the Kapil Muni Ashram, near the present dayGanga Sagar. It was on this day that Bhagirath finally did tarpan withthe Ganges water for his unfortunate. A very big Ganga Sagar Mela isorganized every year on this day at the confluence of River Ganges andthe Bay of Bengal.Another well-known reference of this day came when the great grand-sire of Mahabharata fame, Bhishma, declared his intent to leave hismortal coil on this day.Sikhs celebrate it as Maghi. The tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh torethe Beydaava written by 40 Sikhs and gave them Mukhti on this day.These 40 Sikhs later came to be known as 40 Mukhtas.
Sankranti is celebrated all over South Asia with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different parts of the country. In India it is known by different regional names Makar Sankranti or Sankranti - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Uttarakhand. Uttarayan - Gujarat and Rajasthan. International Kite Festival is held at Ahmedabad (Gujarat) which attracts lots of tourists. Maghi - Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab Pongal - Tamil Nadu Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu - Assam Valley Shishur Saenkraat - Kashmir Valley Makara Vilakku Festival - Sabarimala Temple (Kerala)
In South, Sankranti becomes Pongal. Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal, Mattu Pongaland Kaanum Pongal are the four days of Pongal festivities on successive days.The houses are cleaned and all maintenance jobs are done before this festival. Onall the days, different varieties of Rangolis are drawn in front of the house On theSurya Pongal day, the Sun is worshipped and the next day cows are worshipped.On the last day, people go out and enjoy. This is a day to spend time andentertainment outside. In Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjore a kind of bull fightcalled Jellikuttu is held. Bundles containing money are tied to the horns of theferocious bulls and unarmed men try to wrest the bundles from them. Withingredients provided by freshly gathered harvest, community meals are held atmany a place.
The exuberant Jaisalmer Desert festival, organized by Rajasthan Tourism, is a wonderful opportunity to experience the sandstone city of Jaisalmer and surroundings at their magical best. The festival kicks off with a morning procession, exhibiting the life and culture of the desert from SONAR FORT to SHAHID POONAM SINGH STADIUM. Wacky competitions like Mr. Desert and the longest moustache, are held next followed by music and dance performances. The fun continues on the second day, with a host of camel related activities at DEDANSAR STADIUM like camel fur cutting and camel polo. In the afternoon, the activities again return to SHAHID POONAM SINGH STADIUM where the Border Security Force Camel Tattoo takes place. On the 3rd day, the festival culminates with a gala Rajasthani folk concert under the stars in the Sam sand dunes.
A colorful event, organized by Taj MahotsavSamiti which works under the U.P tourismdepartment, and which stretches for ten days in themonth of February each year, the Taj Mahotsav isheld at Shilpgram near Taj Mahal in Agra.. TajMahotsav was first organized in 1992, since than ithas been organized every year with more grandeur.The festival is characterized by folk music, sher-o-shayari, classical dance performances, food festival,camel and elephant rides etc.
The world famous temples of Khajuraho are known notonly for their erotic sculpture, magnificent carvings andmonumental heritage, but also for the annually heldfamous dance festival exclusively belonging to Khajuraho.The Madhya Pradesh tourism board organizes this weeklong festival during the month of February/March.Clashing with the famous Maha Shiv Ratri festival, thewhole town during the event blazes with festivity andreligiousness.Venue : Chitragupta and Vishwanatha Temple of WesternGroupFamous Dance Forms : Bharatnatyam, Kathakali,Odissi, Kathak, ManipuriOther Charms : Open Market, Workshops andSeminars by ArtisansDont Miss : Shopping From the open market nearthe temples, where local handicrafts are displayed andsold.
Gangaur is a very important festival celebrated in Rajasthanstate. "Gangaur" is the combination of two words "Gana" and"Gaur". "Gana" stands for Lord Shiva, and "Gaur" is thesynonym of Goddess "Gauri" or "Parvati". According topopular belief the day marks the occasion when GoddessParvati or Gauri left her parents home following her marriage toLord Shiva. People believe that on this day the Goddess bestowblessings to the devotees. Gangaur festival starts in Jaipur onTritiya tithi (3rd day) of Krishna paksha (waning moon) ofChaitra month (March-April) and ends on Tritiya tithi (3rd day)of Shukla paksha (waxing moon) of Chaitra month. . Youngand unmarried girls observe rituals during the festival andobserve the occasion to get married to the spouses of theirchoice. Married women do the same for the happiness andprosperity of their family. For a newly-wedded girl, it is bindingto observe the full course of 18 days of the festival that succeedsher marriage. At Jaipur, Udaipur and Bikaner there ismaximum of the activity. A procession is communed from thePalace gate in Jaipur carrying an image of Goddess Parvati. InUdaipur, a similar procession communes around Pichola Lake.One can hear a lot of hymns, songs and can witness anextravagant display of fireworks. Some villages in Rajasthancelebrate the festival for a month.