Makar Sankrati, which will be celebrated on 15 January this year, is a harvest festival celebrated across India. Known as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Maghi (Lohri is celebrated a day before) in Punjab, Bihu in Assam, Uttarayana in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the harvest festival is celebrated differently in different states.
States like Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand,Goa, Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh celebrate the festival as Makar Sankranti in India. This festival is also quite popular in Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The traditional event is believed to mark the arrival of spring as well. Another interesting fact is that on this day Goddess Durga (also known as Mahishasur-mardini) set foot on earth for the first time with a purpose to kill the demon king Mahishasur.
The festival also marks the start of grand melas (fairs) in the country, especially Uttar Pradesh, of which the most popular is Kumbha Mela. On the other hand, Pongal -- also known as Thai Pongal -- is a four day festival celebrated by Tamilians.
Pongal means "boiling over" of milk and rice during the month of Thai. On the first day of Thai, the Sun leaves the zodiac sign of Sagittarius and enters that of Capricorn, which is known as Makaram. The event is thus celebrated as Pongal or Makar Sankranti in other states.
Interestingly, Makar Sankranti is one of the few Indian festivals that falls on the same day every year, according to the Gregorian calendar. It is the festival of til-gul, where sesame and jaggery laddoos or chikkis are distributed. They are generally accompanied by saying, "Til-gul ghya ani gud gud bola", which means "eat sesame seeds and jaggery and speak sweet words".
Known as the kite-flying festival, below is the muhurat (timings) of 2016 Makar Sankranti:
- Punya Kaal Muhurta = 06:49 to 12:28
Duration = 5 Hours 39 Mins
Sankranti Moment = 01:35
- Mahapunya Kaal Muhurta = 06:49 to 08:42
Duration = 1 Hour 53 Mins
Check out the above slideshow of Makar Sankranti and Pongal picture greetings to send to your loved ones.