Makara Sankranthi , First Festival for RangKatha! Not only that its the first Hindu festival of the year - Signifying the onset of Harvest season after couple months of cold weather in India. Makara Sankranthi is among the most auspicious occasions for Hindus and is celebrated in almost all parts of India. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated in many cultural forms with immense devotion, fervor and cheerfulness from North India to down in South India. This festival is celebrated on 14th January and is possibly the only Indian festival whose date always falls on the same day each year with just a few exceptions. The festival of Makar Sankranthi marks the change of the Sun into Makara Rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. This day is also known by various names and various traditions are witnessed as one experiences the festival in different states of India. But in spite of different geographical adaptations, the spirit behind the celebration is not any different.
This is a three-day festival, starting on January 13th until January 15th. No dought that I will need multiple posts even to come close to doing justice covering about this festival. Definitely that is not my intention today. We all have our own festive nostalgia tied to our unique celebrations and exclusive family customs. Today I would like bring up some of festive nostalgia tied to our unique celebrations and exclusive family customs I have been following since childhood.
In my native state of Andhra Pradesh, Sankrathi is all about Bhogi Mantalu (bonfires), Colorful muggulu (floor designs using chalk powder), Ratham Muggu on the D- day (Special pattern of design), Pattu langalu (Special dress girls wear), perantalu (Women folks sharing special gestures and gifts among each other), haridasulu gangireddulu ( Holy decorated cows) , patangulu (kite flying), fights over them, bommala koluvu (display of dolls), bhogi pallu(array of fruits), cheruku mukkalu (Sugarcane cubes), 5/10paisalu(cents) that go with them, 10 days of school holidays, Gobbemmalu (decorated Cow dung balls) and list goes on and on ..
Living away from country where I spent my childhood, today I go back my memory lane recollecting some of those exuberant childhood memories associated with Sankranthi. Sankranthi to girls (young or teens or beyond) has special significance which is centered around "Muggulu" (floor designs using chalk powder) made in their courtyards . Courtyards are swept and sprinkled with water or water mixed with cow dung and Muggu are drawn and decorated with Gobbemmalu. Where Gobbemmalu are the Cow dung balls and they are decorated with turmeric powder (pasupu), red vermion powder (Kumkuma), flowers and with nine different types of grains(NavaDhanyalu). Some times they are decorated with Pumpkin and seasonal fruits. Women go around these muggulu (rangolis) singing and dancing.
Cow dung has special significance religiously and scientifically. Religiously Gobbemmalu placed in your courtyards are supposed to invite prosperity and bliss into the house and scientifically you cannot find best organic fertilizer than cow dung. What can be a better occasion to fertile your courtyards and land around it than on the festival of harvest?
Indian festivals are full of color, cultures and customs and I am fortunate to have experienced every bit of this and cherish them for life. After all these years I have learnt that main sprit behind any festival is celebration of life, happiness and togetherness. I make all efforts to preserve our culture and pass it on to my kids but I am not sure if I will ever get chance to provide them with same level of experience of Sankranthi that I had experienced. I don't think my little girl will ever experience the fun of planning what Muggu will adore our front/courtyard along with her cousins and girlfriends and take every effort in making sure that our's is the best Muggu during Sankranthi in the neighborhood. Neither will my son be able to experience the fun involved in competition and fights around kite flying and fun of flying kites with his cousins and friends. But I make sure to involve my kids in the festivals we celebrate at home in such a manner that they can build their own moments around our family celebrations and cherish them for life. I share my experiences with them to build theirs on mine to cherish and follow and that is the sprit with which I celebrate every festival of ours and Sankranthi is no different!
What about you? What is your mantra of celebration? What do you celebrate ? Either its Sankranthi or Pongal or Poushali Bihu or Maghi or Lohri ? What ever it is, I wish you and your family all the happiness and would love to hear about your unique family customs, traditions and rituals.
@Copyright- Pictures in this blog are taken by me and are captures from my home and those are property of RangKatha. You are free to use them but please do drop me a note before you do so. Others which are not signed by RangKatha are Google images.