Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal 2021: History, significance of India’s beautiful harvest festivals

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January 12, 2021 6:06 PM

Significance of Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal 2021: Lohri also marks the end of winter, and with festivities, it is a traditional welcome to longer Summer days

Lohri and Makar Sankranti Significance, Importance of PongalDevotees taking holy dip on occassion of Makar Shankranti. (AP Image)

Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal History and Significance: Makar Sankranti, Lohri in North India, Pongal in the south, Magh Bihu in East and Uttarayan in the west marks the start of the festivities in the new year. Each of the festivals has its own significance. Most of these festivals also mark the harvest season, arrival of new crop and prosperity.

Significance of Lohri:

Lohri is celebrated a day ahead of Makar Sankranti. It is the onset of the harvest festival wherein farmers celebrate folk songs and mark end of sowing season Tales from Punjab has it that Dulla Bhatti, a legendary hero who lead a rebellion against the Mughal empire is remembered during this time and finds mention in every song sung in Punjab during Lohri.

Lohri also marks the end of winter and with all the festivities and offerings to God by Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab, it is a traditional welcome to longer Summer days and the sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere. Hindus lit bonfires in their yards after the weeks of the rabi season cropping work, socialized around the fire, sang and danced together and make an offering to the fire god as they marked the end of winter

Lohri falls on Wednesday, 13 January, 2021.

Significance of Makar Sankranti

Observed in the lunar month of Magha is a day when the Hindus celebrate the harvest. It marks the first day of the sun’s transit to the Makar Rashi or Capricorn, making the end of the winter solstice. Legend has it that Sankranti was a goddess who killed a devil called Sankarasur. Bhisma Pitamah, a character in Mahabharat also breathed his last on Makar Sankranti.

Many devotees take a dip at the sacred rivers Like Ganga in Varanasi, Haridwar, Allahabad or Yamuna as a sign of gratitude to the sun. A common cultural practice is making stick sweets particularly from groundnut, sesame (til) and a sugar base such as jaggery. It is symbolic of being together in joy and sorrow.

Makar Sankranti falls on Thursday, January 14, 2021.

Significance of Pongal

Pongal is another harvest festival celebrated by the South Indian states. This is the time when crops like rice, turmeric and sugarcane are harvested. Pongal. originated as a Dravidian Harvest festival, around 2000 years ago. According to an ancient legend, lord Shiva banished his bull Bavasa to live on earth forever and plough fields.

This day is associated with the bull. The three days of the Pongal festival are called Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal and Mattu Pongal and the fourth day of Pongal as Kanum Pongal. Festive celebrations include decorating cows and their horns, ritual bathing and processions.

This year, Pongal will be celebrated from 14 January to 17 January, 2021.

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