Makar Sankranti festival is observed in January month of each year marking the start of longer days. The festival always falls on the same date every year January 14 as per Hindu Calendar and one of the very few ancient Indian festival which is only observed according to solar cycles.
Makar Sankranti is one of the only few festival of Hindu that celebrates the solar cycle, while other festivals by the lunar cycle, also mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
The festival is dedicated to the Hindu God Surya Dev or Sun, marking the first day of the sun’s transit into Makar. Makar Sankranti observed each year in January of 14 with early holy dip in sacred rivers or lakes of India with ceremony of thanks to the God Sun.
On this auspicious day of Makar Sankranti or Maghi, people of India take a holy dip in the most sacred rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. On the banks of rivers they offer prayer to the God Sun and take a holy dip followed by some cultural practices and rituals.
Uttarayan is the day of International Kite Festival in Gujarat which is also regarded as one of the biggest festivals celebrated in India.
The festival of Uttarayan is one of the most important harvest day in Gujarat and the kite festival takes place in specially in Ahmedabad.
Magh Bihu is the most popular harvest festival of Assam, marking the end of harvesting season and marked by feasts and bonfires. This Bihu is also knonw as Bhogali Bihu and people of Assam make rice cakes, coconut laddu and buffalo fight take place in villages.
Gangasagar island on Bay of Bengal in West Bengal is a part of the Sundarbans and world famous as a place of Hindu pilgrimage. The island attracts hundreds of thousands of Hindus every year on the day of Makar Sankranti at the confluence of river Ganges for holy dip and to offer prayers.
Magh Mela is the most popular annual festival celebrated during the month of January near holy river banks of India. The Magha Mela festival attracting a larger gathering for ritual bathing in rivers,offering prayers to ancestors as well as cultural programs and fairs.
The Hindu harvest festival of South India is observed on January 14 every year, dedicated to Hindu God Sun and also celebrated throughout India by different names. Tai Pongal is an important festivals celebrated by Tamil people across the world, with the preparation of sweet milk-rice-jaggery dish.
On the day of Makar Sankranti, each state celebrate the festival by offerings traditional foods, preparting particular dishes like dappalam,jaggery mixed ground til,special khichdi, peanuts and jaggery and rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots.
Jallikattu is a traditional sport practised in Tamil Nadu as part of the Pongal celebrations. The event was an integral part of the Tamil classical period and today typically practised with some variants and rules, bulls are known as Kangayam breeds.
The festival is celebrated differently across the Indian subcontinent, by different names with some regional variations and also celebrated with different customs like Khichdi in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Magh Bihu in Assam,Uttarayan in Gujarat and Pongal in Tamil Nadu.