Makar Sankranti and Pongal are the harvest festivals celebrated to thank the God Sun and farm cattle for supporting the growth of crops. On Makar Sankranti, the Sun transits into the Makara Rashi or Capricorn. This marks the end of the winter solstice and the start of longer days. 

Makar Sankranti is one of the largest Hindu festivals in India. Makar Sankranti is observed according to the solar cycles of the Hindu lunisolar calendar. Makar Sankranti usually falls on 14th January every year, but sometimes the festival is observed on 15 January. 

Which states celebrate Makar Sankranti?

Makar Sankranti is celebrated throughout India with different names and customs. 

The festival is known as Makar Sankranti or Makara Sankranti in Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala, Magha Sankranti in Nepal, Magh Bihu in Assam, Lohri in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh or Sankranthi in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.  

Makar Sankranti is also known as Poush Sankranti in West Bengal where the most popular Ganga Sagar Mela takes place.

In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti is known as Uttarayan and is celebrated for two days. Makar Sankranti is believed to be an auspicious time for success and prosperity. Therefore, many people consider it a good time to start a new business.  

How Makar Sankranti is celebrated?

On this auspicious day, people take holy bath in the sacred rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari and Krishna to cleanse themselves of sins. Devotees offer their prayers to the God Sun for blessing the farmers with a good crop. People also fry kites, light bonfires and eat sesame and jaggery sweets (til-gud laddoos) and Khichdi to celebrate this festival. 

How Pongal is celebrated? 

Makar Sankranti is known as Pongal in Southern India including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry. The festival is celebrated for 4 days from the last day of Margazhi to the 3rd day of Thai. 2021 Pongal festival started on 13th January and will continue till 16th January. 

  • On the first day of Pongal, called as Bhogi Pongal, people decorate their houses and offices.  
  • The second day, known as Surya Pongal, is celebrated as Thai Pongal where people prepare a special dish called “Pongal” and offer it to the Sun God to take the blessings.  
  • On the third day of Pongal, known as Mattu Pongal, the farmers decorate and worship their cattle for their contribution to the harvest.  
  • On the fourth day of Pongal, called Kaanum Pongal, people gather together for the celebration. They prepare the traditional rice dish “Pongal” and share it with each other.