Thursday, 11 January 2018

MAKAR SANKRANTI



One day after the successful posting of Chhath story on my blog page. I thought what’s next. Suddenly, I got message from Debolina my class mate, “the winter leave has started and I am free for a week, Ashwani what is yours next subject? If you have not plotted your next subject, why don’t you write on “Makar Sankranti”? Maker Sankranti is a festival based on bathing in a holy river and worshiping the Sun as well as it marks the beginning of the harvest season and I replied to her Yes, let’s do a story together ………
Makar is rashi and Sankranti means the movement of sun from one rashi to another.  Makar Sankranti is mainly celebrated on 14th January every year. It is one of the most auspicious days for Hindu all over India, Indian sub-continents and overseas.
In a year there are 12 Sankranti and Makar Sankranti is the most celebrated one. Every year on 14th January Sun enters Capricorn with Sagittarius and known as Uttarayan. By the way, it is an astronomical phenomenon, but this zodiac change of Sun has been considered as special even from spiritual point of view. This natural movement of change is celebrated as Makar Sankrant.
The auspicious festivals have been there for many years .The Vedic story also speak that Hindu auspicious celebrations are based on season and natural power elements... From that era people purify themselves by taking bath in Ganga, Yamuna and other holy rivers, they also visit auspicious place and worship Lord Surya and seek blessings. According to Mythology, “In the Mahabharata, the Gangaputra Bhishma Pitamah clearly mention that he will wait till Sun would become Uttarayan after that he will get Moksha from his life”- Unke Pass Ekcha Mirtu Ka Bardan Tha. It is believed, if there is a possibility of liberation from death in Uttarayan the person will get Moksha from the life.
Do you know, In India festivals are celebrated according to lunar and solar calendar (Panchank)? Lunar festivals are based on moon and solar are on sun cycle. The basic difference is that lunar festivals date varies where solar festival is celebrated on the same date every year. It is believe that after one hundred years the date of Makar Sankranti gets change means it will go one day ahead.

Makar Sankranti is considered as the bringing of the holy phase. Good things start to happen from here. After Makar Sankranti the days become longer and warmer. This is the sign of beginning of new season. The weather starts changing from here.  It is said that-“A change in feelings can lead to a significant change in behaviours.” Heat and light of sun start increasing and people start coming out from their houses. It signifies that cold is moving out and new developments happen with the sun changes.
As per Hindu believe the Makar Sankranti is also the last day of Kharmas. It is forbidden to do any good will works in Kharmas. From that day the all auspicious work begins, like Grih pravesh, Wedding, Mundan etc happen.

REGIONAL CELEBRATIONS
The beginning of the official English calendar is marked with the harvest festival of India known by various names in different regions of India. It is the biggest celebrations for those farmers who assist in cultivations. They are happy because they cut the crops and again cultivate the second crops for their future uses. The main staple food of India is associated with this period of time. Dhan (Rice-Kharif) is harvested and Gehun (Wheat-Rabi) is cultivate. In Bihar, Punjab and Tamilnadu it is time to harvest the corp. Rice and Sugarcane are the most important Kharif crops thus it find their place in Makar Sankranti delicacies. Wheat, Barley, Mustard, Sesame basically Rabi crops are cultivated from late October to March.
MUSTARD & SUGARCANE 



According to the different regional beliefs Makar Sankranti delicacies vary from one region to another region. Festivals have their own specialities. The only dish is Khichri which is common amongst many states, apart from this rice and pulse dish, sesame and jagerry are also consumed widely due to winter and also its heating properties.

SANKRANT


Festivals remind us of our childhood. On Makar Sankranti we wake up early and take bath(it’s a mandatory) and Mother gives us Kala Til and Kacha Chawal to touch for 5 times. On Makar Sankranti a bath in the early morning is said to remove all sins. The first thing which we get to eat is made of Til. Tilkut, Til ka ladoo, Lai, Chura dahi and Aloo gobi mutter ki subzi is served that day!!!
TILKUT

  • Tilkut- Til is Sesame seed and kut is pound. The world famous Buddhist spiritual place Gaya is also known for the making of tilkut. The varieties of tilkut are endless like, chini ka, gud ka mawa wala, khoya bhara, khastha, rolls etc……. ‘Gaya ke tilkut ka koi sani nahi’.
  • Til ka ladoo- Roasted sesame seed and gud ka paak (syrup) combined together and shape into a round ball. If keep it in an airtight container it will not spoil for few months. Both white and black are used to make the ladoo.
  • Lai- Roasted rice flake/puff and gud/chini or gur ka paak (syrup) combined together and shape into a round ball. If keep it in an airtight container it will not spoil for few months. Ginger is also added to Lai by some people as ginger is always considered hot.
  • Chura dahi- Chura is rice flake and dahi is curd. Chura is washed with water and later soaked in milk till it is fully absorbed then it is eaten with curd and gur/sugar.
  • Dahi chura- The difference is, here the quantity of curd is more then chura approx. - 1/2 kg curd and 100 gm of chura. Rest of the process is same as Chura Dahi. Ask any Maithili Brahmin about this, he will proudly say how much he loves Dahi Chura.
  • Aloo gobhi mutter ki subzi- This types of rasawala curry only Bihari/Jharkhandi can make. New potatoes boiled, peeled and cut into dices. Cauliflower florets fried in mustard oil. Fresh garden peas peeled and added. The curry is made with turmeric, garlic, red chillies, cumin and black pepper paste; Use of “sil batta” gives the unique taste.
  • Khichri- Bihari khichri is the best. Arhar dal and Arwa chawal are cooked together with potatoes, cauliflower florets, fresh, green peas, turmeric and salt. Later give the baghar (tadka) of mustard oil, jeera, golki, lahsun, lal mirch and tejpata. Deshi ghee is added on top when khichri is being served.
    KHICHRI


I remembed, we friends enjoy playing guli danda or goli (Kancha) on Maker Sankranti……..
Milk and ghee are treated as ritually pure food thus every auspicious occasion is incomplete without their presence in. Secondly the best part of ritual ceremonies is that we get to seat on the ground (aashan) facing east or north in order to have food with a pin drop silence.

In Maharashtra people make tilguls and distribute among their family and friends. A Local says, ‘Tilgul ghya, god-god bola’ means distribute tilguls and speak sweet words. Tilguls made from til and sugar and til ladoos are from til and jagerry. This day Maharashtrian women play Haldi kumkum, as well as Goan does so.
Turmeric is used in Indian rituals and worship. Kumkum or red Tilak is made by powdering Turmeric and drying it after mixing it with Lime.

While me and my friend Debolina were talking to people of various regions about their way of celebrations, her friend Namrata told that a day before Sankranti they celebrate Bhogi when they eat some til ki Bhakra made of Jowar or Bajra along with winter vegetables, cooked specially for the day to serve as offering or (bhog) to their kuldevta.

POUSH PARBON
Makar Sankranti is celebrated by the name of Poush Parbon in Bengal.It is called so as it is the festival (parbon) to mark the end of the Bengali month Poush...The day starts with the arrangements of special preparation of variety of sweets called as "Pithe" special for this occasion. These sweets are different from the regular Bengali sweets made up of milk, pithe are the preparation of rice, coconut and a special jaggery found in winter season called patali gur (jaggery from the dates-khejur)
The special delicacies are:-
  • Patishapta-The pancakes made of rice flour stuffed with stuffing made of coconut and jaggery
  • Siddho puli- A mouth-watering sweet which is the rice flour dumplings with the same stuffing of jaggery and coconut and is eaten with the date syrup
  • Chitoipithe-These are pancakes made up of rice flour and is eaten with dates syrup or with a light curry of potatoes specially made for this.
  • Doodhpuli-This is the  sweet prepared on this day and similar to the payesh or kheer ,the only difference is that for this the puli(rice flour dumplings with stuffing of cocunut and jaggery) is boiled in the milk .


Apart from these common delicacies the various districts of Bengal have their own variations in preparation but mostly they are done with rice flour and some are with boiled moong dal. The pithe made up of moongdal will have pinch of salt and sweet taste as the outer covering of dal will be salty and stuffing will be sweet and these will be fried.
The patali gur (jaggery made from date syrup, is a special delicacy of winter in Bengal, usually the jaggery is made from sugarcane but prior to winter the slits are made in the date trees from which the syrup is collected in earthen pot tied to the stem and these syrup are collected and boiled to make jaggery called as nolen gur. All the sweet of Poush parbon is made with this nolen gur...

MAGH BIHU
In Assam Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu celebrated on the last day of Pusya and the first day of Megha. Bihu is derived from the Sanskrit word Visuvat. Piling up firewood to form a Maji (Temple-like structure) and setting fire to it is an important part of this festival. The whole day is spent in feasting, singing songs and dancing. Pitha, Laaru, khazoor ka gur are eaten all over the Assam. That day in the morning Assamese people take Jolpan (light meal) i.e. Chira or Muri. Traditionally Jolpan consist any form of rice eaten with mostly curd and gur.

PONGAL
Tamil nadu a down South state celebrate this harvest festival by the name of Pongal and the name of the festival is related to the very special sweet dish special for this festival called as Sakarai Pongal (sweet pongal).The farmers and common people wait for this day and celebrations are marked for four days begins with Bhogi the day before the Pongal, it is the day when they burn the old things and residues of crops , next is Pongal day, starts with early morning cleaning of houses and preparing pongal in courtyard. They arrange for age old practice of fire in bricks and cooking pongal in clay pot with sugarcane standing on four side guarding bricks and turmeric plant. The new rice is boiled with milk and jaggery and whole family waits aside, with the first boil of milk all says pongala -pongala to rejoice the cooking of pongal, they worship Family God with this pongal and whole family eats this as their first meal of the day. Next is the day of matu pongal followed by kanu pongal. The day’s speciality is linked with worship of cattle’s at house and ancestors along with having merry time with family and friends.

KITE FESTIVAL
A tourist place of India, Rajasthan is known to celebrate the little and big occasion. Every occasion they have different custom and tradition. Uttarayan are celebrated as the new beginning of life in Rajasthan. It is symbolic to the start of a fresh new season by getting rid of the bad vibes of previous season. In the same connection kite festival is organised every year on 14th January in the various parts of Rajasthan. Mawa ki kachori, Ghewar, Malpua are the main attraction on the various shops. If you want to look for a good Rajasthani food always visit during their festive time. I remember when I worked in the Sun City of India, Jodhpur, I was invited by one of my Indian Chef Kanhaiya Lal to his house on Makar Sankranti and I was served with Dal ka pakoda and gur ka pakoda with chutney. They also prepared Namakpare, Sakarpara, Til Ke ladoo and Til Papdi. The Rajasthani celebrate the Makar Sankranti by donating their food to worthy Brahmin and other deserving persons. They also served same food to their domestic animal.
Jaipur is known to organise the International Kite Festival, which are organised from the many years on Makar Sankranti. The whole Jaipur city fall fluttering kites over the sky. This day, people enjoy and play kite, eat pakodas and til papdi, sing songs.
Gujarat also host International kite festival on the second week of January every year. My childhood friend Santosh Patel who lived in Surat after passing out from Kendriya Vidyalaya No-2, Bokaro, Jharkhand say,” Undhiyu, Puri, Jalebi and gur aur moongphali ki chikki are the main attraction on the uttarayan menu". A winter dish undhiyu traditionally cook in earthenware and eaten with puri. Surti papdi, moothia, ripe banana, brinjal(Rawaiya), ratalu, sakarkandi, dana(batana and Tovar) simmered in coconut, Coriander(Kothamvir) , ginger, green chillies(marcha), salt and pounded spices .Here, celebration continue on the next day also known as Vashi Uttrayan.
Vedic knowledge says - ''Seven colours mix together to become an intense glow of white rays of the sun.'' When flying a kite, our body comes in contact with the sun's rays directly, which cure diseases in winter. To engage yourself in the sun light people start themselves busy with some fun activities like flying kite and etc. Kite widely known as ‘PATANG’ is signifies the spirit to fly high in the blue sky. It’s a family game where every age group people enjoy and wants to cut the more kite as they had put their best manjha(a type of paste) on the thread and preparation of it was not an easy job .

KHICHIRI PARV
The largest state in India, Uttar pardesh celebrate the Makar Sankranti by taking a ritual bath in the river or home. After that people take a bowl and put kacha chawal, kali urad dal, namak, mirch, deshi ghee, kale aur safeed til ke ladoo, any one fruit, any one vegetables and some money and they sprinkle water around the bowl. Later they donate it to the Brahmin. After this ritural they make and have Khichiri and celebrate the new harvest season, this is also known as Khichiri Parv.

MAGH MELA
Magh mela celebrated at Prayag, Allahabad. It starts on Makar Sankranti and celebrated almost a month. Every 12 years the Magh mela become Kumbh mela.

LOHRI
HOLY BONFIRE
The word Lohri originated from Loh and Aai, which means Iron foe. Lohri is a popular Punjabi community festival celebrated on 13th January; the last day of the month Poh (Pusya). It marks the end of winter. People (Usually young members) collect Cowdung cakes from their neighbourhood and arrange them in a pyramidal shape in their courtyard. The elder women of the house set fire to it and offering are made into the fire. Traditionally, til and sugarcane are thrown into the fire. People collect ashes in the next morning and taken to their houses as a gift from the god. Lohri is associated with harvest festival (Rabi crop) in Punjab. Sarson ka saag and makai ki roti with makhan and gur are eaten everywhere in the Punjab that day. It is tradition to eat Til, Gajjak, Reori, Peanut, Gur and Popcorn in Lohri.

  • Gajjak-Solidified sugar or gur cover with til comes in various shape and size.
  • Reori-A sweet made of sugar/gur syrup paste, til, khoya and groundnuts.
    REORI & GAJJAK
















The next day 14th January is called Maghi, kheer is made in sugarcane juice is a special delicacy to savour.
Indians know the art of producing sugar from sugarcane. “Syakarah” means sugar in Sanskrit. Greek, Chinese, Portuguese, European learnt the skill of producing sugar from us.
  
REGIONAL CELEBRATIONS
  
Happy Makar Sankranti 2018!!!!!

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