Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated in almost all parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh in many cultural forms. It is a harvest festival that falls on the Magh month of the Nepali calendar (Hindu Solar Calendar).
Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India. Makara Sankranthi is a solar event making it one of the few Hindu festivals which fall on the same date in the Nepali calendar every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January.
The festival, Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి), is celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana:
Day 1 – Bhoghi (భోగి) (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka)
Day 2 – Makara Sankranti (మకర సంక్రాంతి-పెద్ద పండుగ), the main festival day
Day 3 – Kanuma (కనుమ) (Andhra Pradesh And Telangana]
Day 4 — Mukkanuma (Andhra Pradesh And Telangana]
The day preceding Makara Sankranti is called Bhoghi (భోగి). This is when people discard old and derelict things and concentrate on new things causing change or transformation. At dawn, people light a bonfire with logs of wood, other solid fuels and wooden furniture that are no longer useful. It represents realization, transformation and purification of the soul by imbibing and inculcating divine virtues.
In many families, infants and children (usually less than three years old) are showered with the Indian jujube fruit Ziziphus mauritiana, called “Regi Pandlu” in Telugu. It is believed that doing this protects the children from the evil eye. Sweets in generous quantities are prepared and distributed. It is a time for families to congregate. Brothers pay special tribute to their married sisters by giving gifts as affirmation of their filial love.
The second day is Makara Sankranti. People wear new clothes, pray to God, and make offerings of traditional food to ancestors who have died. They also make beautiful “muggu” or “Rangoli” in Telugu, in front of their homes. These drawings are decorated with flowers.
On the third day, Kanuma (కనుమ) is celebrated. Kanuma is very intimate to the hearts of farmers because it is the day for praying and showcasing their cattle with honor. Cattle are the symbolic indication of prosperity.
The fourth day is called Mukkanuma (ముక్కనుమ) which is popular among the non-vegetarians of the society. On this day, farmers offer prayers to the elements (like soil, rain, fire for helping the harvest) and the (village) goddesses with their gifts which sometimes (and these days mainly) include animals.
Kite flying is an integral part of sankrati on the second day especially in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. The sky is colourful during the entire day and by night the sky is lit up with the new Chinese lamps. Wishing everyone a happy sankrati.