Happy Sankaranthi (and Happy Pongal for those closer to the TN Border) 🙂
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Makara Sankaranthi is the Hindu Festival marking the Winter Solstice. This is the beginning of the period known as Uttarayanam where the Sun will rise in the Zodiac until the Summer Solstice. As per Hindu astrology/astronomy, the Sun enters Capricorn, or “Makara” rasee.
It is also considered the Harvest Festival in most parts of India, and so there is great feasting.
Andhra is no slouch in this department and ladies wear their finest Venkatagiris.
Makara Sankaranthi marks the Winter Solstice and is a celebration of the Harvest across India. In Andhra, it generally spans over three days. Many people go back to their ancestral villages, where many rural sports, such as bull-racing and wrestling, take place in tandem.
In united Andhra the day before Sankaranthi is called Bhogi. In the morning, a large bonfire is constructed to burn away broken and worn out items. This is called Bhogi Manta. Some communities do Bhogi pandlu (sugar cane, etc) to bless children. A great feast is prepared. Nonvegetarians eat mamsahar (especially kodi kura) on Bhogi, but not on Sankaranthi day itself.
On Sankaranthi day, great pujas and celebrations are held. Wonderful designs (Muggu) are done using Rangoli
The Telangana region in particular is famous for kite flying on this day
Kites (Thaadi Pataalu (Patangs))are frequently flown from rooftops, making for quite a view of the skyline. There are frequently kite-fighting competitions, which take place. The object is to cut the string of the opponent’s kite. It makes for great fun, and parts of India, such as Gujarat, have international kite festivals. Our people, as usual, specialize in eating ;).
The third day is called Kanuma pandaga, where cows are bathed, sanctified, and decorated. This is in appreciation for their contribution to a successful farming season. All three days, however, will feature the Haridasulu, who like Narada, sing and perform in praise of Lord Hari. They perform Harinama sankeerthana, with tambura and castanets.
Bellam Pongali, which is a sweet rice dish (kheer) is prepared in all 3 main regions of Andhra today. It is made from rice, jaggery, and milk. The dish symbolizes the abundance of the harvest. There is Peppercorn Pongali, a favorite of Lord Venkateshwara, as well.
Ariselu are also a classic part of this day in Andhra.
Kadupaara Bhujinchandi and A very happy Sankaranthi to all our Readers !!