Makar Sankranti, the colourful Hindu festival, was celebrated with pomp and gaiety across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on Friday.
On the second day of the three-day festival, the countryside in both the Telugu states wore a festive look with decorated houses, kite-flying, cockfights, bull-fights and other rural sports.
Villages in both the states came alive with Sankranti, considered as one of the major festivals. It was time for the families to take a break and come together in their natives towns and villages.
People from different parts of the country and even abroad joined their near and dear ones for the festival.
Attired in their best, men, women and children thronged the temples to offer prayers since early morning.
Lakhs of people from Hyderabad left for their homes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for the celebrations, leaving the city’s roads almost deserted. Authorities operated hundreds of special buses and trains from Hyderabad to various destinations in the two states over last couple of days to clear the festival rush.
For children of those settled in cities and abroad, it is an occasion to have a feel of life in the countryside. They visit the fields and participate in various rural sports.
The houses were decorated with marigold flowers and mango leaves. Womenfolk decked the front-yard of houses with Rangoli. They set cow-dung balls called as ‘Gobbemma’ and placed among the Rangoli patterns and also put fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane.
The women also prepared ‘chakkara pongal’ or rice kheer, a special dish made of new rice, jaggery and milk. The dish is allowed to boil over which symbolises abundance.
In Hyderabad and other towns in both the states, the sky was dotted with colourful kites. Popular Hindi and Telugu chartbusters blared from speakers as youngsters flew the kites from rooftops.
‘Haridasus’ and ‘Basvannas’, the uniquely attired alm-seekers with ornately decorated oxen, made rounds of villages to seek alms.
The farmers also decorated bullocks and worshipped them for their contribution to the harvest.
Despite the court orders banning cock-fights, the bloody sport was organised openly in parts of coastal Andhra.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu celebrated Sankranti with his family members at his native Naravaripalle village in Chittoor district. He received greetings from the villagers.
Naidu’s brother-in-law and popular actor Balakrishna and other family members too joined the celebrations.
Naidu and his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao and governor of the two states E. S. L. Narasimhan greeted people on the occasion of Sankranti.