Happy Sankranti to all of you who celebrate it!
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week was a very special celebration in most of India and Nepal. Each year on January 14th, Sankranti is celebrated. This festival is also known as the harvest festival and symbolizes a new year. Different regions of India have certain traditions associated with this festival. The festival also has religious symbolism. In Andhra Pradesh, a south Indian state, this is a three-day festival. The first day, January 13, is called Bhogi. On this day, families light small bonfires at dawn. Small twigs are used to fuel the fire and old wooden furniture is also burned to symbolize the New Year. The temperature around this time is about 50°F.
The other day, as my mom greeted me happy Bhogi, she fondly recollected her childhood when everyone wrapped blankets tightly around themselves and stood by the bonfire, on Bhogi, trying to warm up. After the fire had built, her mom would make a sweet Pongal, a sort of rice pudding, over this fire. Following the bonfire, everyone took a cleansing bath to start the new year fresh.
The main day of the festival is Sankranti, January 14. On this day, any house maids and workers are treated exceptionally well, and given gifts and a huge feast as a token of appreciation for all the work they do year round. A large variety of sweets are made including aritulu, ladoos, and piasm.
On January 15, Kanuma is celebrated. On this day, farmers decorate their livestock, including cows and bulls, and races are often held.
Another tradition during this time of the year, drawing a muggu outside the house. These are designs that are done in a variety of colors. The day of Sankranti, neighborhoods often hold competitions to see who has the neatest and most intricate design.
Newly wed couples make sure to return home for the holiday and are often spoiled by the parents.
Here in America, while we can’t participate in all of the festivities, many individuals prepare traditional dishes and invite friends over to share the joy and celebration. When I went to a family friends house on Friday, we did the traditional Bathukama dancing, children got money and blessings from their elders, and everyone enjoyed the traditional sumptuous food!