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Makara Sankranti

Posted on: January 13, 2010


FESTIVAL OF MAKAR SANKRANTI

Makar Sankranti is celebrated every year on JANUARY 14th. Makar Sankranti marks the end of a long winter with the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere. Makara literally means ‘Capricorn’ and Sankranti  is the day when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next.

The Sankranti of any month is considered auspicious as it signifies a fresh start. However Makara Sankranti is celebrated in the month of Magha when the sun passes through the winter solstice, from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn.

This festival has been celebrated for thousands of years. Initially, this was probably a festival celebrated in the cold climate, when people prayed for the warmth of the sun. In all likelihood, the Aryans celebrated it, and continued to do so after migrating to India. Today,
Makara Sankranti is celebrated throughout India as a harvest festival
.

KARNATAKA

In Karnataka, the festival is marked by visiting one’s friends and relatives to exchange greetings, and by the preparation of a dish called Ellu (made with sesame seeds, coconuts, sugar blocks, etc). A common custom found across Karnataka is the exchange of sugarcane pieces and Ellu with one’s neighbors, friends and relatives. In Karnataka, Pongal is known as ‘Sankranti’, and cows and bullocks are gaily decorated and fed ‘Pongal’- a sweet preparation of rice. Special prayers are offered. In the evening, the cattle are led out in procession to the beat of drums and music.

In the night a bonfire is lit and the animals are made to jump over the fire. Makar Sankranti is marked by men, women and children wearing colorful clothing; visiting near and dear ones; and exchanging pieces of sugarcane, a mixture of fried til, molasses, pieces of dry coconut, peanuts and fried gram. On this auspicious day, people in Karnataka distribute Yellu and Bella (Sesame seeds and Jaggery) and greet with the words ” “Ellu bella thindu, Olle Maathu Aadu” (Eat sesame seeds and speak only good). The significance of this exchange is that sweetness should prevail in all the dealings.

Special Recipes For Sankrant

PONGAL

Pongal is a sweet rice preparation made with rice and milk. It is usually made during the Harvest festival of Sankrant. In South India, Sankrant is known by the name of “Pongal”. In Karnataka, the festival is called ‘Sankranti’, and cows and bullocks are gaily decorated and fed ‘Pongal’- a sweet preparation of rice. Special prayers are offered in the temples and houses. In the evening, the cattle are led out in procession to the beat of drums and music. In the night a bonfire is lit and the animals are made to jump over the fire.

It is a big event for the people of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The Telugus like to call it ‘Pedda Panduga’ meaning big festival. The whole event lasts for four days, the first day Bhogi, the second day Sankranti, the third day Kanuma and the fourth day, Mukkanuma.

1 1/2 cups rice
1/2 cup condensed milk
5 Tbs jaggery/gud
1/th tsp clove powder
1/th tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp ghee or butter
1 Tbsp cashew nuts, chopped
1 Tbsp raisins
3 cups water

Heat the ghee in a pan, fry cashews and raisins till golden brown. Keep aside. In a separate pan, wash rice well and cook in water till soft. When the rice is done and the water is almost evaporated, add the jaggery and condensed milk and reduce the flame. When almost dry,
add clove, cardamom powder, raisins and nuts and mix well. Serve hot
.

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