Celebrating the Festival of Harvest
As the winter solstice approaches, different regions in India celebrate the change in weather and beckon in the harvest season – known as Makar Sankranti. Celebrated with different names through the sub-continent, Here and Now 365 walks you through some of the festivities.
Celebrated in Tamil Nadu, the southern state of India, and Tamil communities from the Indus and Sri Lanka, Pongal is a four-day festival and is one of the most popular Hindu festivals in the year. The festival is a thanksgiving to nature during the season when rice, cereals, sugar-cane and turmeric are harvested. Tamilians say ‘Thai pirandhaal vazhi pirakkum’, and believe problems will be solved with the advent of the Tamil month Thai that begins on Pongal day and is also considered an auspicious month for weddings. As part of the celebrations, Tamilians cook rice and milk in an earthen pot till it overflows.
As the sun travels to the northern hemisphere people in the northern Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and parts of Himachal Pradesh prepare for the bonfire festival – Lohri. In the evening huge bonfires are lit in the harvested fields and in the front yards of houses. People gather around the bonfire and throw puffed rice and other grains shouting “Aadar aye dilather jaye” (May honour come and poverty vanish) and sing popular folk songs to bless the land with abundance and prosperity.
In Gujarat and Maharashtra, Uttarayan is celebrated by the young and old. Friends and family gather together and colour the sky with kites. The International Kite Festival is regarded as one of the biggest festivals celebrated, and in a run up to the festival, households in Gujarat begin to manufacture kites.