The first festival of the calendar year is all about celebrating harvest and keeping a date with traditions that seem to be fading especially in the light of the pandemic.
Magh Bihu in Assam, Maghi and Lohri in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Ghughuti in Uttarakhand, Makara Sankranti in Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Poush Sankranti in West Bengal, Khichdi Sankranti in Uttar Pradesh and Sankranthi or Pedhha Panduga in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. What is common to all these celebrations is that they all celebrate the harvest season.
The festival that is celebrated on January 14 or 15 of the solar calendar every year has both geographic and religious connotations. ‘Makar’ refers to the zodiac sign Capricorn and it is said that on this day the sun leaves the Tropic of Cancer to enter the Tropic of Capricorn and travels northwards (which is why it is called Uttarayan). Interestingly there is a school of thought that likens Uttarayan to Thanksgiving as it is all about welcoming harvest, prosperity, and hope. This is a festival where the sun god is worshiped. In the Mahabharata, Bhishma who had a boon to choose the date and time of his death, waited for Makar Sankranti to die.