Festival of Sankranthi
Makara Sankranti is aHindu festival celebrated in almost all parts of India and Nepal in a myriad of cultural forms. It is a harvest festival. It is the Hindi/Indo-Aryan languages name for Makara Sankranthi (still used in southern areas as the official name).
Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India and is a traditional event. Makara Sankranti is a solar event making one of the few Indian festivals which fall on the same date in the Gregorian calendarevery year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 13 or 15 January.
Date and significance
Makar Sankranti has anastrologicalsignificance, as the sun enters theCapricorn(Sanskrit:Makara) zodiac constellation on that day. This date remains almost constant with respect to the Gregorian calendar. However, precession of the Earth's axis (calledayanamsa) causes Makara Sankranti to move over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makara Sankranti was on 31 December and is now on 14 January. According to calculations, from 2050 Makar Sankranti will fall on 15 January.
Makara Sankranti is a majorharvest festivalcelebrated in various parts of India. Makara Sankranti commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makara in Sanskrit, this occasion is named as Makara Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year (or may be sometimes on 15 January (leap year)).
Makara Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said as the 'holy phase of transition'. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be sanctified in any Hindu family, this day onwards. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.
All over the country, Makara Sankranti is observed with great fanfare. However, it is celebrated with distinct names and rituals in different parts of the country. In the states of northern and western India, the festival is celebrated as the Sankranti day with special zeal and fervour. The importance of this day has been signified in the ancient epics like Mahabharata also. So, apart from socio-geographical importance, this day also holds a historical and religious significance. As it is the festival of Sun God, and he is regarded as the symbol of divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.
The festival, Sankranti (మకరసంక్రాంతి), is celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as below:
Day 1 – Bhogi (భోగి)
Day 2 – Makara Sankranti (మకరసంక్రాంతి-పెద్దపండుగ)- the main festival day
Day 3 – Kanuma (కనుమ)
Day 4 – Mukkanuma (ముక్కనుమ)
The day preceding Makara Sankranti is called Bhogi (భోగి) and this is when people discard old and derelict things and concentrate on new things causing change or transformation. At dawn people light a bonfire with logs of wood, other solid-fuels and wooden furniture at home that are no longer useful. The disposal of derelict things is where all old habits, vices, attachment to relations and material things are sacrificed in the sacrificial fire of the knowledge of Rudra, known as the "Rudra Gita Gyana Yagya". It represents realization, transformation and purification of the soul by imbibing and inculcating divine virtues.
In many families, infants and children (usually less than three years old) are showered with the Indian Jujube fruit Ziziphus mauritiana, called "Regi Pandlu" in Telugu. It is believed that doing this would protect the children from evil eye. Sweets in generous quantities are prepared and distributed. It is a time for families to congregate. Brothers pay special tribute to their married sisters by giving gifts as affirmation of their filial love. Landlords give gifts of food, clothes and money to their workforce.
The second day is Makara Sankranti. 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 andpatterns on the ground with chalk or flour, called "muggu" or "Rangoli" in Telugu, in front of their homes. These drawings are decorated with flowers, colours and small, hand-pressed piles of cow dung, called "gobbemma (గొబ్బెమ్మ)".
For this festival all families prepare Chakinalu, Nuvvula Appalu, Gare Appalu or Katte Appalu or karam appalu, Madugulu (Jantikalu), Bellam Appalu, kudumulu, Ariselu, Appalu (a sweet made of jaggery and rice flour) dappalam (a dish made with pumpkin and other vegetables) and make an offering to God.
On the day after Makara Sankranti, the animal kingdom is remembered and in particular, the cows. Young girls feed the animals, birds and fish as a symbol of sharing. Travel is considered to be inappropriate, as these days are dedicated for re-union of the families. Sankranti in this sensedemonstrates their strong cultural values as well as a time for change and transformation. And finally, gurus seek out their devotees to bestow blessings on them.
On the third day, Kanuma (కనుమ) is celebrated. Kanuma is an event which is very intimate to the hearts of farmers because it is the day for praying and showcasing their cattle with honor. Cattles are the symbolic indication of sign of prosperity.
Nowadays Kanuma is not being celebrated widely as it used to be but is an integral part of the Sankranti culture and is meant for Thanksgiving to Cattle.
Fourth day is called Mukkanuma (ముక్కనుమ) which is popular among the non-vegetarians of the society. On this day, Farmers offer the prayers to the elements (like soil, rain, fire for helping the harvest) and the (village) goddesses with their gifts which sometimes (& these days mainly) include animal(s).
People in Coastal Andhra do not eat any meat (or fish) during the first three days of the festival, and do so only on the day of Mukkanuma.
Kanuma, Mukkanuma & the day following Mukkanuma also calls for celebrations with union of families, friends, relatives followed by various fun activities, which mainly include Cock Fighting, Bullock/Ox Racing, Kite Flying, Ram (Pottelu) Fighting.
On this occasion, in every town and city, people play with kites and the sky can be seen filled with beautiful kites. Children and elders enjoy this kite flying occasion.
Another notable feature of the festival in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is the Haridasa who goes early in the morning around with a colorfully dressed cow, singing songs of Lord Vishnu (Hari) hence the name Haridasu (servant of Hari). It is a custom that he should not talk to anyone and only sing songs of lord vishnu when he goes to everyone's house.
Significance of Kites
Makar sankranthi (Kite flying day) marks the end of a long winter with the return of the sun to the Northern Hemisphere. According to the Hindu astronomy the sun enters the zodiac of Makara (Capricorn). Hence, it is called Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti.
The special significance attached to the celebration of Makar sankranti, is Kite Flying. The gods who are believed to have slumbered for six months are now awake and the portals of heaven are thrown open!
Uttaryan is celebrated all over Gujarat but the excitment is high at Ahmedabad, Surat, Nadiad and Vadodara. Surat, especially is known particularly for the string string which is made by applying glass powder on the row thread to provide it a cutting edge.
Significance of Rangoli/Kolam/Muggu
The importance of Muggulu / Mugulu / Kolam / are thought to bring prosperity to It is a sign of invitation to welcome all to the home, including Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and In olden days, these were drawn in coarse rice flour, so the ants would not have to walk too far or too long for a meal Dhanurmas usually starts around 14--16 December and extends up to the mid of During this month, the sun transits the Dhanur Rasi and enters the Makara Rashi at the end of this This period of month is considered highly auspicious for Vishnu.
Significance of Bommala Kolluvu
As the name indicates the meaning of the Telugu word Bommalu is dolls / toys and the meaning of Koluvu is showcase. Since olden days the girl children of the house are involved in arranging or showcasing the dolls or toys which they have collected in an array of steps. In the olden days the dolls of local handicrafts of Andhra Pradesh like the kondapalli and etikoppaka toys were showcased. But with the passage of time even a collection of handicrafts across the country or toys that are collected from various countries are being displayed.
Basically, this is known as Sankranti Bommala Nomu in which the girl children from the age of three are involved. Friends and relatives are invited to have a look at Bommala Koluvu which is known as Perantam in Telugu language and then they are given Taambulam which consists of one or two fruits along with two betel leaves, betel nut, a coin, turmeric powder and Kumkum powder (pasupu Kumkham). And then the young girls are blessed by the elders and are appreciated for the display of their wonderful art.
In fact Bommala Koluvu encourages the creativity and organization skills in the girl children. And it is highly essential for these young girls to be organised as they are the future organizers of the household. In this way Bommala Kovulu has its own importance in improving the skills of girl children and thereby molding them to perfect individuals. It also gives them an opportunity to socialize themselves and thus help them in maintaining better public relations.
Bommala Kovulu is celebrated during Makara Sankranthi in some regions of the state while the same is celebrated during Dussehra Navaratri in some other regions of the state. Unfortunately, due to the influence of the Western culture, this wonderful celebration called Bommala Koluvu is slowing fading from the society and the children as well as the elderly people of Andhra Pradesh are not giving much importance to this wonderful celebration. And it is time to revive this cultural and traditional festival of the state.
Significance of Gobbillu
The Gobbi dance is a folk art form originating from the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh. The south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has a rich cultural heritage in the form of various folk arts like dances, music and handicrafts. The Gobbi dance is performed during the Sankranti festival that is celebrated for the Sun’s apparent movement to another part (zodiac sign) of the sky. The dance is performed by the young girls in the locality.
The word Gobbi may have several origins, according to some it merely comes from the ‘gobbillu’ or small spheres of cow dung that are made to represent the Hindu deity Krishna. While on the other hand some researchers claim that the word comes from ‘Gopi’ which is used to describe the several young girls who adored and loved Krishna in his legend. Either way, it is accepted that the Gobbi dance form is a derivative of the Garba dance of Gujarat, which is performed during the festival of Navaratri. This dance is only for the young girls, married women and male members of the society are not allowed to dance and this dance is only performed in the evenings. Another feature of the dance is the drawing of the ‘rangoli’, it is an elaborate drawing that is created in front of a house using various colored stone-powder.
Dance Form :The preparation of the Gobbi dance begins in the morning when the sea side Hindu communities, clean their courtyards and what them with water. After that large balls are made out of cow dung and placed in the centre of a beautiful and elaborate rangoli. This ball or gobbillu is to represent the god Krishna. After this is done, young girls gather in the evenings in a group and perform the worshipping rituals with the rest of the elders as audience. Following which they form a circle around the gobillu and dance around in circular movement, all the while singing.
Musical Instruments : The performance of Gobbi dance does not require any kind of musical instruments. The only music is that of the devotional folk songs sung by the young girls dancing around the gobbillu.
Significance : The Gobbi dances are a significant part of the way of life of the Hindu fishermen from Andhra Pradesh. It is a way of expressing their devotion to Krishna as many Hindus are devoted to the principal god Vishnu, of whom Krishna is a form.
Significance of BhogiPallu
The "Bhogi Pallu" is a special ritual to be performed on the day of Bhogi. On Bhogi, the children are dressed up with new dresses. They are given Aarti and Bhogi Pandlu (Bhogi Pallu - a special mixture of gosseberries, food material, coins ) are showered on the heads of children to protect them from the evil forces. The main reason of offfering Bhogi Pallu to children is to get them better health and prosperity. It is a type of solution for Nara Drishti and Graha Peeda Nivarana.
Pongal in Tamilnadu
In Tamilnadu it is celebrated as Pongal.
Pongal is a four-days-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. For as long as people have been planting and gathering food, there has been some form of harvest festival. Pongal, one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year. This four-day festival of thanksgiving to nature takes its name from the Tamil word meaning "to boil" and is held in the month of Thai (January-February) during the season when rice and other cereals, sugar-cane, and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking) are harvested.
Mid-January is an important time in the Tamil calendar. The harvest festival, Pongal, falls typically on the 14th or the 15th of January and is the quintessential 'Tamil Festival'. Pongal is a harvest festival, a traditional occasion for giving thanks to nature, for celebrating the life cycles that give us grain. Tamilians say 'Thai pirandhaal vazhi pirakkum', and believe that knotty family problems will be solved with the advent of the Tamil month Thai that begins on Pongal day. This is traditionally the month of weddings. This is not a surprise in a largely agricultural community - the riches gained from a good harvest form the economic basis for expensive family occasions like weddings.
This first day is celebrated as Bhogi festival in honor of Lord Indra, the supreme ruler of clouds that give rains. Homage is paid to Lord Indra for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land. Another ritual observed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the harvest. The significance of the bonfire, in which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is to keep warm during the last lap of winter.
On the second day of Pongal, the puja or act of ceremonial worship is performed when rice is boiled in milk outdoors in a earthenware pot and is then symbolically offered to the sun-god along with other oblations. All people wear traditional dress and markings, and their is an interesting ritual where husband and wife dispose off elegant ritual utensils specially used for the puja. In the village, the Pongal ceremony is carried out more simply but with the same devotion. In accordance with the appointed ritual a turmeric plant is tied around the pot in which the rice will be boiled. The offerings include the two sticks of sugar-cane in background and coconut and bananas in the dish. A common feature of the puja, in addition to the offerings, is the kolam, the auspicious design which is traditionally traced in white lime powder before the house in the early morning after bathing.
The third day is known as Mattu Pongal, the day of Pongal for cows. Multi-colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands are tied around the neck of the cattle and thenare worshiped. They are fed with Pongal and taken to the village centers. The resounding of their bells attract the villagers as the young men race each other's cattle. The entire atmosphere becomes festive and full of fun and revelry. Arati is performed on them, so as to ward off the evil eye. According to a legend, once Shiva asked his bull, Basava, to go to the earth and ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bath every day and to eat once a month. Inadvertently, Basava announced that everyone should eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. This mistake enraged Shiva who then cursed Basava, banishing him to live on the earth forever. He would have to plough the fields and help people produce more food. Thus the association of this day with cattle
The Fourth day is known as Knau or Kannum Pongal day. On this day, a turmeric leaf is washed and is then placed on the ground. On this leaf are placed, the left overs of sweet Pongal and Venn Pongal, ordinary rice as well as rice colored red and yellow, betel leaves, betel nuts, two pieces of sugarcane, turmeric leaves, and plantains. In Tamil Nadu women perform this ritual before bathing in the morning. All the women, young and old, of the house assemble in the courtyard. The rice is placed in the centre of the leaf, while the women ask that the house and family of their brothers should prosper. Arati is performed for the brothers with turmeric water, limestone and rice, and this water is sprinkled on the kolam in front of the house.