India, the most diverse country in the world, is all set to celebrate three winter festivals Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal from Friday. The festival of bonfire, delicious food, greetings, and togetherness is here again to make this winter unforgettable. Yes, this is indeed the most joyous time of the year as the series of winter harvest festivals begins today.
Incidentally, while one part of the country is celebrating Lohri, other parts would celebrate Pongal and many of them would rejoice Makar Sankranti. And some of us just wonder what these festivals, which are celebrated at almost the same time, are all about and what makes them so special apart from their names. Well, here is your answer, read on!
Lohri, one of the greatest festivals of Punjab and Haryana, is celebrated on the 13th of January. It marks the beginning of the end of winter and coming of spring and the New Year. The festival is associated with the harvest of the rabi and sugarcane crops.
Lohri is celebrated whole day as children in the morning go from door to door, singing and asking the Lohri ‘loot’ in form of money and eatables such as til (sesame) seeds, peanuts, jaggery, or sweets like gajak, rewri. They sing praising Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi avatar of Robin Hood who robbed rich to aid the poor.
The eatables that the children gathered are known as Lohri and get distributed at night. People also offer some of them to the sacred fire.
Singing and dancing are an essential part of the celebrations. People put on their brightest clothes on this day and do bhangra and gidda on the beat of the dhol. Mostly, people serve sarson ka saag and makke ki roti in dinner.
In the villages of Punjab, entire village gets together and participate in the celebrations like one big family and lit a bonfire.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated differently in various parts of the country. People from Bihar and Jharkhand celebrate the festival by bathing in ponds and rivers and having sweet dishes such as Tilgud (small balls made of sesame seed and jiggery) on this day. Tilgud is the iconic dish of the festival all across the country. They also eat delicious Khichari this day as part of the celebration.
People of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana celebrate this festival by burning old items of the house. Some parts of the country fly kites or ‘patang’ and also contests are held across the state for the same.
‘Pongal’ is celebrated especially in South India. It is a one of the biggest 3-day festival. Pongal is a sweet rice dish that is prepared on the occasion.
On the first day Pongal, prayers are offered to Bhogi for providing rain for the harvest while on the second day, Pongal is offered to the sun.
Devotees also pray for growth and prosperity while offering water and flowers to the sun.
On the third day of the festival, Pongal is offered to cattle in the house. People in families gathered in large numbers to celebrate, thus it also signifies togetherness.