More than flying kites, distribution of sweets, the celebration of Makar Sankranti is about welcoming the spring. After facing chilling winter for over a months, Sun transmigrates from its zodiac and moves northwards from Tropic of Cancer to the tropic of Capricorn – that’s marks the Makar Sankranti. In India, it is a harvest festival popular with different names. For example, it is called Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Uttarayan in Gujarat, Maghi in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab and Bhogali Bihu in Assam. Makar Sankranti 2018 will be celebrated on January 14.
On this day, in India people usually fly kites, take a dip in Ganga and other rivers. It is a ritual which is believed to wash away sins. In Gujarat people start manufacturing kites in large numbers a month before Sankranti. Melas are a must during Makar Sankranti and the most famous one being the Kumbh Mela. Though Kumbh Mela is held in many places occasionally but it supposed to be held every 12 years in Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. It is called the Magha Mela or mini-Kumbh Mela in Prayag), Makara Mela in Odisha and Tusu Mela in parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Many people that this festival is dedicated to the Sun God and is a marker for new beginnings. As the sun takes a new journey and when winter begins to turn towards summer according to Hindu Calendar. In Hindu epics it is called the Uttaarayan. In Mahabharata, Bhishma Pitamah waited for the sun to be in Uttarayan for him to die peacefully.
On the day of Makar Sankranti, people traditionally share and eat sweets and laddoos made of sesame (til) and jaggery (gur) that helps in keeping our body warm during the still chilly weather. Another custom is kite flying, which is both fun and beneficial for health, as it allows us to stay in the sun. Kite flying also has symbolic meaning in Indian culture. It is also said that the higher your kite goes, the higher you will rise in life. Adding to the fun factor is the kite flying competitions. This is all about cutting other people’s kite strings while saving your own kite and making sure it soars high in the sky.