This year, Makar Sankranti is officially observed on Monday, January 15, 2024.
Due to India's size and wide cultural diversity, the festival might go by different names (see DID YOU KNOW? Makar Sankranti fun facts, below.) But no matter what it's called, the sentiment is the same -- in new beginnings and renewed hopes for better times ahead.
The festivities are celebrated all over India in January in special holiday dishes and traditions.
It's a new day - go fly a kite!
While there are important religious aspects behind the celebration, in more practical terms Makar Sankranti is most famous as the day for sending hopes and aspirations skyward -- with prayers offered to the Lord Sun in the form of beautiful kites.
One of the more impressive celebrations is centered on the International Kite Festival in Ahmedabad - a four-day event which is perfectly timed to culminate on Makar Sankranti.
Traditions and deicious dishes for Makar Sankranti
Sankranti is also known as Khichadi,
the name of the traditional Indian dish made from rice and lentils eaten
during the festival.
Colorful tilgul, made from sesame seeds (til) and sugar, along with murmura ladoo or sweet puffed rice balls, are also popular favorites.
Sweet treats in fact, are in observance of a traditional story involving the sun god, Surya who constantly quarreled with his son, Shani. As the story is told, a happy ending was finally in the offing on Makar Sankranti when Surya visited his son's home with a gift of sweets -- in sweet forgiveness!
Colorful, festive chalk designs decorate the streets during Makar Sankranti.
A deeply religious observance on Makar Sankranti is to mark the day with a mass pilgramage to the waters of sacred rivers, to wash off the old year and prepare for the new one ahead.
As in Spring festivals in many parts of the world, Makar Sankranti is a time of rebirth and renewal.
Happy Makar Sankranti!
DID YOU KNOW? Makar Sankranti fun facts
• Sweet are so central to the celebration that in some areas of India children will go door-to-door (like a western Halloween) asking for treats in honor of the day.
• In India, there are total of twelve Sankranti (or sun phases) throughout the year, but "Makar Sankranti" is the most widely observed and celebrated all over India.
• Makar Sankranti goes by different names in different areas of the country. In Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, it is named Maghi. In the state of Gujarat, it is known as Uttarayan. In Tamil Nadu, it's called Pongal.
More about Makar Sankranti around the Web:
Sankranti - Here's a nice overview courtesy of Wikipedia with information on different customs and celebrations, with photos and related resources.
Makar Sankranti e-Cards - Find kites, kites and more kites, plus other design selections to send along with your wishes for a Happy Makar Sankranti!