Makar Sankranti is the ONLY festival in India which is celebrated based on the solar calendar. Hence, this festival is usually on 14th January or a day before or after. All other festivals of India are based on the moon calendar, not really on the same day each year of Georgian calendar.
According to Indian calendar, the sun transits into Makara rashi (zodiac symbol capricorn) and hence it is known as Makar Sankranti. The days get longer, so the festival traditionally includes sesame seeds based sweets and snacks to provide high energy foods.
This festival is essentially a harvest festival celebrated throughout the Indian subcontinent with different names. Sankranti is considered as the big starting festival of India in the New Georgian calendar year.
When you think of the festival of Sankranti, most probably you think of colourful kites in the sky, exciting (healthy and energetic sesame seed based) food items specially prepared for Sankranti and all the fun of family and friends coming together.
About Sankranti Festival
Nearly all of the states of India celebrate Sankranti in one or other forms.
In Tamilnadu, a southern state of India, this festival is celebrated for three days as Pongal worshipping the sun god. It's truly a festival of farmers and marks the end of the harvest season. The festive dish of boiling newly harvested rice with milk and jaggery (in Tamil it is Pongal) encompasses this seasonal festival.
In Telugu and Kannada speaking southern states of India, this harvest festival is known as Makar Sankranti. The celebrations last longer than 3 days and consist of cock fights, bull fights, great food, kites flying, sun god worshipping and many other community activities.
Food is probably the centre of attraction during this superb harvest festival. From the north to the south, from the west to the east of India, most states give immense importance to the special seasonal dishes for this festival. As the days get longer from this solar cycle based festival, high energy dishes needed to fuel us.
Sesame seed is the ingredient of Makar Sankranti. High in calcium and packed with so many nutrients, sesame seeds are a boon for the healthier life from this season onwards.
Many sweets and savoury snack items are prepared a few days before this festival and enjoyed on the main festival day.
The typical traditional snacking items are Sakinalu, garelu, etc from the state of Telangana. These snacks are crunchy, tasty, and very addictive.
Sankranti is nothing without kites flying, the kids favourite festival of the season. Colourful kites are flown for many days during this long celebrated festival.
Many cities host kite flying competitions. Hyderabad is such a city which hosts national kite flying festivals. Handsome prizes announced
Cock fights are popular in Andhra Pradesh, another Telugu speaking state, involving millions of rupees in betting on their favourite cockerels.
Bullfighting and dances around bonfire are common sights in many other states.