HARVEST FESTIVALS OF INDIA
WHY IN NEWS?
- The harvest festivals like Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal have recently been celebrated all across the country.
- Makar Sankranti:
- Makar Sankranti denotes the entry of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) as it travels on its celestial path.
- The day marks the onset of summer and the six months auspicious period for Hindus known as Uttarayan, the northward movement of the sun.
- The festivities associated with the day are known by different names in different parts of the country – Lohri by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs, Sukarat in central India, Bhogali Bihu by Assamese Hindus, and Pongal by Tamil and other South Indian Hindus.
- Lohri is primarily celebrated by Sikhs and Hindus.
- It marks the end of the winter season and is traditionally believed to welcome the sun to the northern hemisphere.
- It is observed a night before Makar Sankranti, this occasion involves a Puja Parikrama (revolve) around the bonfire with prasad.
- It is essentially termed as the festival of the farmers and harvest, whereby, the farmers thank the Supreme Being.
- The word Pongal means ‘overflow’ or ‘boiling over’.
- Also known as Thai Pongal, the four-day occasion is observed in the month of Thai, when crops such as rice are harvested and people show their gratitude to the almighty and the generosity of the land.
- Tamilians celebrate the occasion by making traditional designs known as kolams in their homes with rice powder.
- It is celebrated when the annual harvest takes place in Assam. People celebrate Rongali/Magh Bihu to mark the beginning of the Assamese new year.
- It is believed that the festival started from the time when people of the valley started tilling the land. Bihu is believed to be as old as river Brahmaputra.
- Makaravilakku festival in Sabarimala:
- It is celebrated at the sacred grove of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala.
- It is an annual seven-day festival, beginning on the day of Makar Sankranti when the sun is in the summer solstice.
- The highlight of the festival is the appearance of Makarajyothi- a celestial star which appears on the day of Makar Sankranti on top of Kantamala Hills.
- Makara Vilakku ends with the ritual called ‘Guruthi’, an offering made to appease the god and goddesses of the wilderness.