Lohri, Pongal, Makar Sakranti: India celebrates harvest festivals (Collage of PTI photos)
Harvest festivals Lohri and Bogi Pongal are being celebrated across the nation on Friday. While Lohri is primarily associated with Punjabi culture, Pongal is predominantly a Tamil festival, celebrated in Tamil Nadu and parts of South East Asia. Pongal is a four-day festival and first day is called Bogi Pongal.
Lohri and Bogi Pongal will be followed by Makar Sakranti and Thai Pongal along with beginning of Bihu festival on Saturday.
Lohri 2017: Significance and ritual
Celebrated on January 13 every year, Lohri commemorates the passing of the winter solstice. The festival represents the longest night before the winter solstice as it was originally celebrated on the night before winter solstice followed by the shortest day of the year which is observed in Magh, in the Hindu lunar calendar.
On this day, people lit a bonfire and distribute food made of Til (sesame seeds), peanuts and jiggery, including gazak, rewari, patti, puffed corns and rice, etc.
In pics: Harvest festival Lohri marks end of winter
Bogi Pongal 2017: Significance and ritual
Pongal is a four days festival and the first day is known as Bogi Pandigai. On this day people clean their homes and light bonfire to discard unused items.
The most important day of Pongal is known as Thai Pongal. Thai Pongal which is the second day of the four days festivity is also celebrated as Sankranti.
Thai Pongal day is celebrated by boiling freshly harvested rice with fresh milk and jaggery in a new clay pot. While boiling the concoction, people let the milk spill over the pot as an auspicious sign of material abundance and prosperity.
Later the concoction of rice, milk and jaggery, known as Pongal, is topped with brown sugar, Ghee, cashew nuts and raisins. Freshly cooked Pongal is first offered to the Sun God as a gratitude for good harvesting and later served on banana leaves to the people present in the home for the ceremony. Traditionally Pongal is cooked at sunrise at an open place.
Thai Pongal is the first day of Thai month according to Tamil Solar Calendar. Thai is the tenth solar month in Tamil Calendar. Thai Masam is known as Makar in other Hindu calendars.
Next day of Thai Pongal is known as Mattu Pongal. Cattles are decorated and worshipped on Mattu Pongal day. The last and final day of Pongal is known as Kaanum Pongal. It is time for family reunions in Tamil Nadu.
Makar Sakranti 2017: Significance and ritual
Makara Sankranti 2017 is one of the most celebrated festivals in India but astrologically, it is the day when Sun begins its movement away from the tropic of Capricorn and towards the northern hemisphere. Sun will start appearing to rise towards North-East for next 6 months.
This year, Sun moves into Capricorn (Makara Rasi) at 05:15 IST on 14 January 2017.As Makara Sankranti in 2017 happens before sunrise on 14th January, all rituals should be done after Sunrise on same day and completed before noon. On this day, people take bath in holy water across nation and offer prayers to Sun God. The day is associated with auspicious beginning and donations.
Bihu 2017: Significance and ritual
Assam is set to celebrate Magh Bihu starting from Saturday January 14. The origin of the term ‘Bihu’ came from the Sankrit word that means ‘Vishu’.
It is the cheerful festival of Assam that is celebrated by the locals irrespective of caste, creed and beliefs. In a year Assamese celebrate three different kinds of Bihu festival that is Bohaag Bihu in the middle of April month, Maagh Bihu in the middle of January month and Kaati Bihu in the middle of October month.