Makar Sankranti in Karnataka
India celebrates the calendar New Year with the new beginnings as it is the harvest season. Just when winters are at their peak in northern India, the fragrance and the vibes of festivities is all over. The harvest season is celebrated in India by different names like Sankranti, Lohri, Pongal and Bihu. Sankranti in Karnataka too is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm. The majority of the states in India celebrate Sankranti and is the most popular Hindu festival celebrated on 14th January every year.
About Makar Sankranti
Apart from the rituals and celebrations, Makar Sankranti also has an astronomical significance. The festival is celebrated based on the solar cycles. This is the time when the Sun moves towards the north for 6 months. According to the Hindu calendar, the Sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn i.e Makar Rashi which is considered very auspicious.
Makar Sankranti Celebrations in Karnataka
‘Everyone should be grateful to the farmland on which our food grows’ is the beautiful message of the festival. Spreading peace, love and harmony among all is the essence of the festival. Celebrations, good food, new clothes, joy, happiness, meeting and greeting people and exchanging sweets is something one can witness in every nook and corner of the state.
Like all other states in India, Sankranti in Karnataka too is celebrated with joy and happiness. In Karnataka too, farmers pray to the Sun God, Surya for showering sunlight in abundance on their farmlands which will help them grow and prosper. The first harvest of the season is offered to the Sun God as a token of thanksgiving for their safety and protection.Preparations for Sankranti begin days in advance by decluttering the house, getting it white-washed and decorating the house. The main doors are ornated with colourful auspicious torans (door hangings). The main entrance is decorated with rangolis of colourful powders and flowers.
Food and Delicacies on Makar Sankranti
Sankranti is also about good food. As it is the peak of winters, sesame and jaggery based sweets are most commonly consumed. These two ingredients are rich in nutritional value and give warmth to the body. People distribute and eat khichadi (a mixture of rice and lentils savoured with spices and ghee, the clarified butter). It is also believed donating khichadi and sesame seeds sweets bring in good fortune. The most common sweets prepared and consumed are Til Ke Laddoo, Pongal –sweet and salted, Vada, Puliyogere rice and Payasam.
People greet each other with a popular Kannada saying “Ellu Bella thindu olle mathaadi“, which means eat the mixture of sesame and jaggery and speak good words. This Ellu Bella mixture has a lot of other ingredients like peanuts, roasted gram and desiccated coconuts which makes it a guilt-free healthy snack too.
Other Activities During Makar Sankranti
The sky is vibrant with colourful kites on Sankranti. An age-old tradition of kite flying on Makar Sankranti is relished by all age groups with excitement and enthusiasm. Bonfire, singing and dancing, visiting temples, rangoli making competitions and even Kushti competition (wrestling) are the other activities dedicated to the festival.
‘Kichchu Haisodu‘ is an exciting and thrilling activity that takes place usually near the Mandya and Mysore districts of Karnataka. The local farmers adorn their cattle with colourful clothes and jewellery and then take on a procession with music and drums. Hundreds of tourists from across the world gather to witness this annual ritual as part of the Sankranti festivities.
After the procession, the cows and buffaloes are made to walk over a fire which is believed to bring good luck for the village and the people.
Sri Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple, Bangalore
Sri Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple, Bangalore
Another highlight of Sankranti in Karnataka is a visit to the Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple in Bangalore. Built-in the 16th century by Kempe Gowda I, the founder of the city, this temple has a lot of significance on Sankranti. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this is one of the oldest temples in Bangalore and is an architectural marvel attracting a lot of devotees. Built with a monolith rock, the inner sanctum of the temple has a lord shiva lingam.
The temple is famous for its magical phenomenon that occurs every year on Sankranti. The stone discs at the temple are placed strategically that allow the sun rays to pass through and light up the Shivalinga inside the sanctum only on Sankranti day. Devotees flock towards the temple to witness the divine powers.
Sidheswar Jatre in Bijapur
One of the main attractions during Sankranti in Karnataka is the Jatre at Sidheswar Temple in Bijapur. Witness the regional and pastoral flavours of the village with agricultural fairs and festivities. The cattle fair, Kushti competition, street dancing and the haat bazaar selling colourful stalls selling clothes, sweets and savouries, toys, puja items for the temples, flowers etc. are the main attractions of the event.
The festival brings kindness, harmony, gratitude and love among people.
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