This time of the year wears a very festive look in all regions of the country. This is that time of the year, when India is ready to bid goodbye to the gloomy winters and cold and brace itself for the upcoming spring season. This is also the time of crop harvest and people are rejoicing. In different parts of the country people are celebrating and rejoicing. Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Bhogi, Mela, Maghi Bihu and Lohri are the names of the festivals that are celebrated during this time.
The rationale behind each of these celebrations is the same. This period starts with the transit of the Sun to the Zodiac of Capricorn, thus marking the end of the Winter solstice and beginning of longer days. People offer their gratitude to the Almighty and rejoice by singing and dancing.
In Delhi, Lohri has now become a major festival. People light bonfires, exchange fancy food baskets and dance to the drums of the Dhol. The recent times and the influence of Hindi movies have really commercialized this festival. For majority of the people; this festival is an occasion of merriment and gaiety without understanding the inner intent of the festival. Off late, this festival is being celebrated at offices too. Co-workers get together and light bonfires, order food and have fun at offices.
Lohri is predominantly celebrated by the Northern belt of India; majorly in Punjab and Haryana. Whenever there is a childbirth or new marriage; the celebrations of those households’ quadruples.
This beautiful festival is indeed one that aims at teaching us a number of things through its customs and traditions. The lighting of the fire and offering food items such as til, jaggery, popcorn and peanuts to Agni, the Lord of fire is done with the intent of appeasing Him and soliciting His blessings to remove negativity and usher in positivity throughout the year. People offer food items and go around the bonfire and ask the Lord to bless them with prosperity, abundance and prosperity. After offering to the fire, people also consume these food items. All the items offered are those which help in cleansing the body and energizing the body. All these items act as energy boosters.
In the western parts of the country, Uttrayan and Vasi-Uttrayan are celebrated with great fervor. Kite flying is on all time frenzy here. Families get together and cook delicacies. Married women folk celebrate the Haldi- Kumkum festival together and offer each other household items as gifts.
In Southern India, the festivities carry on for four days. On the first day, a fire is lit and old clothes put into it. This signifies the discarding of the old and welcoming the new. The second day is the day of the main merriment. Rice, milk and jaggery are cooked together in a pot and it is let to boil over; as an act of reverence to the Almighty for giving them a fruitful harvest. On the third day, the cattle
who are forerunners in a bountiful harvest; are thanked profusely. Their horns are painted and they are adorned with bells and flowers. The fourth day is spent visiting relatives and friends and thanking them for their support throughout the year and especially for the harvest.
The Magh Bihu celebrations in Assam are week long. The premise is the same; thanking the Almighty for a plentiful harvest. Fun and frolic are theme by way of feasting, revelries, new clothes and spending time with their loved ones.
India is a very large and rich country; geographically and culturally. Still, the core is the same across the length and breadth of the country. This festival is a testimony to that. Indians all across the country and the world; show their gratitude to the Gods and Goddesses and seek their blessings for the year ahead.