The festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated in most parts of India with zeal and enthusiasm. In Hindu culture, on this day people pray to the Sun God. The festival marks the first day of Sun’s transit into the Makara (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days. Makar Sankranti falls on January 14. As we know that India is a diverse country and Makar Sankranti is a festival which has relevance in terms of season, therefore in different parts of India the festival is known by different names. In Gujarat, it is Uttarayan, Pongal in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Sankranti in Karnataka, Magh Bihu in Assam, Magha Mela in parts of central and north India (Maghi in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab), and as Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra.
Just like there is diversification in culture, similarly, there is diversification in cuisine. On this auspicious festival of Makar Sankranti, in Maharashtra, people exchange multicoloured halwa, til-gul laadoo (sweets made from sesame seeds and jaggery) and gulachi poli/puran poli (again, made with sesame seeds). Til-gul is considered to be a token of goodwill and people greet each other with the words. In north India, especially in Uttar Pradesh, people cook Khichdi- a recipie which is a mix of rice and pulses, along with Papad.
In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the festival is known as Pongal. And interestingly Pongal is also a dish which is a mix of jaggery, rice and dal. In eastern India, especially in Bihar, people eat Dahi Chooda, a dish made with mix of flattened rice (chura or chiwra) and curd (dahi). To sweeten the dish people also use jaggery instead of sugar. In Gujarat, people celebrate this festival with lunch of undhiyu and jalebis along with other delicacies like Till ki chikki, Khichdo and, goondar paak .
The festival is known as Poush Sankranti in Bengal and people eat various types of Pathishapta, Pithe Puli and Payesh are cooked to celebrate the festival.