Sankranti, Pongal and Makara Vilakku put city in festive mood

Prajakta Joshi
Tuesday, 15 January 2019

“Apart from being a women’s festival, in order to pray for a prosperous life for an young child, we also shower them with the fruit of ‘bor’ (Indian jujube), murmure (puffed rice) and chocolates, and invite children over to play and eat the showered sweets.” Pradnya Kulkarni, resident of Aundh, said.

PUNE: The season of harvest festivals is here with Maharashtra celebrating Makar Sankranti with fervour on Tuesday, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Punjabis celebrating Lohri (January 13) and Makar Vilakku (January 14) in Kerala. 

In Maharashtra and many other States, Makar Sankranti is celebrated by eating and distributing sweets made of sesame seeds and jaggery, known to be winter delicacies. 

People greet each other with a promise to talk sweetly (god god bola) while married women socialise with ‘haldi-kumkum’ ritual. 

“Apart from being a women’s festival, in order to pray for a prosperous life for an young child, we also shower them with the fruit of ‘bor’ (Indian jujube), murmure (puffed rice) and chocolates, and invite children over to play and eat the showered sweets. Nowadays, games too are organised for the children,” Pradnya Kulkarni, resident of Aundh, said. 

SWEET SALES UP
Makar Sankranti also means good business for sweet shops in the city. 

Indraneel Chitale of Chitale Bandhu Mithawale said that in winter, jaggery-based and sesame sweets are in high demand like chikki, laddoos, gajak, etc along with gul poli (roti with jaggery stuffing). 

“As these sweets are non-perishable, we start the production by December 25 itself and the sales continue till around January 20. Overall, there is a rise of around 10 to 15 per cent in the sale of all the sweets in the Makar Sankranti week,” Chitale said. 

LOHRI CELEBRATIONS
For Dr Surbhi Magoo, Lohri celebrated on January 13 is an occasion to create a bonfire and socialise. 

“In Punjab, Lohri marks a new harvest. The grass in the fields is burnt in order to prepare the field for a new crop,” the Pimpri resident said, explaining the origin of bonfire. 

“We also follow the tradition of putting the sweets made of groundnuts, jaggery, puffed rice (murmure), etc,” she said. 

She also explained the significance for newly-wed women. “Couples take seven rounds around the bonfire together, while the unmarried boys and girls take four rounds each. While everyone celebrates Lohri in their house, many have fun with other community members as well,” Dr Magoo added. 

MAKARA VILAKKU
With around 15 Ayyappa temples across the city, Malayalees settled in Pune celebrate Makara Vilakku on January 14. 

“Makara Vilakku is celebrated in Sabarimala, and hence at the Ayyappa temples everywhere, at the end of Ayyappa fasting season. On this day, Makara Jyothi (flame) appears in the sky in Sabarimala, believed to have been sent by Lord Ayyappa, and so it is worshipped,” said Velayudhan P, Chief Coordinator of Vakdevatha, a city-based Malayalee cultural centre. 

On the occasion, the women worship the Lord, followed by a procession in the area around the temple, which is accompanied by Ratham (chariot) and Chendamelam (traditional drumbeats of Kerala), concluding with aarti and distribution of prasad. 

WHY ON JAN 15 THIS YEAR?
Makar Sankranti marks the first day of Sun’s transit into the Makara (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice. While it usually falls on January 14, sometimes, the festival is postponed by a day, if the Sun’s transit takes place on the evening of 14th. In these circumstances, the festival takes place on the 15th

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