Makara Sankranthi is also known as Sankranthi, is one of the highly auspicious days in a Hindu calendar and the day is dedicated to the worship of Lord Surya. The Tamil year begins from this date. This festival is known as “Thai Pongal” by Tamilians. This is also celebrated as Uttarayan in Gujarat. On the same day people will celebrate Makaravilakku festival in Sabarimalai in Kerala.
Makara Sankranthi is the day when the sun enters into the zodiac Capricorn or Makara. It is also known as Uttarayana Punyakalam and heralds the arrival of spring season.
The Bhogi is often referred as Lord Indra, the Vedic God of thunder and rain. It is also widely believed that Bhogi Pongal is the Indra Vizha festival observed during the Chola period.
Sankranthi is a festive time to have good food and indulge. This is the most auspicious harvest festival which is celebrated for 3 days in Andhra as Bhogi, Sankranthi and Kanuma. It is equally fun for all 3 days.
Festive mood starts the day before the Bhogi by accumulating the unwanted things in the house., eg., Mats, broom sticks, wooden benches etc., On the first day all the members of the family, including the neighbourhood will gather early in the morning and set bonfire at the centre and burn the things that are of no use. A sort of cleansing ceremony…….
Next comes the Sankranthi, the main festival and the most important day and is also known as Pongal. In Andhra Pradesh on the Sankranthi day, ‘Pongali’, a dish prepared from the recent rice harvest is offered to Sankranthi Lakshmi.
Kanuma is observed on the third day of the Sankranthi. It is believed that Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan hill to protect the people of Gokulam on this day. Mukkanuma is observed the day after Kanuma and is primarily a day of feasting and merry making.
Kanuma festival is quite similar to the Mattu Pongal observed in Tamil Nadu. The festival is dedicated to cows, bulls and other animals that are part of agrarian economy. Cattle and cattle sheds are cleaned on the day. Cows are decorated with marigold flowers and are worshipped.
Gangireddu and Hari daasu are the two important aspects of Sankranthi. Those days are gone where the cows and bulls are decorated with colourful clothes and flowers and hari daasu makes them to dance and play as per his orders. It was great fun to watch those interesting plays where the bull obeys his master's orders.
Missing all those fun now......