Uttarayan, celebrated as Makar Sankranti or Sankranti in many parts of India, is a festival of great cultural significance in most of India. While kite flying is a common theme, the ways in which it is celebrated vary from region to region. Here are some common ways in which Uttarayan is celebrated around India:
1. Kite Flying: This is the hallmark of the celebrations. People of all ages come together to fly kites from rooftops, open fields, and parks. It’s a time for friendly competitions, trying to cut the strings of other kites and be the last one flying.
2. Special Foods: Different regions have their special dishes for Uttarayan. In Gujarat, you will find undhiyu, jalebi and chikki, while in Maharashtra, tilgul (sesame and jaggery sweets) are exchanged and in Tamil Nadu, Pongal is celebrated with a sweet rice dish.
3. Bonfires: In some regions, like Punjab, bonfires are list in the evening as part of Lohri celebrations. People gather around the fire, sing songs, and toss offerings into it.
4. Rangoli: In many households, colorful rangoli designs are created at the entrance of homes. These intricate designs are made using colored powders, flowers and rice flour.
5. Community Gatherings: In several places, people gather in communities to celebrate Uttarayan. They set up chairs, mats, and snacks on rooftops or open spaces, fostering a sense of togetherness.
6. Music and Dance: Cultural performances, traditional music, and dance are common during Uttarayan or Sankranti. People often enjoy these performances while taking breaks from kite flying.
7. Charitable Acts: Uttarayan is also seen as a time for charitable acts in some places. People donate food, clothing, and money to those in need.
8. Special Markets: In the days leading up to Uttarayan, markets are bustling with people purchasing kites, strings, and other kite-flying essentials. It’s also a time for shopping traditional attire and festive foods.
9. Outdoor Games and Sports: In Assam, people engage in various outdoor games and sports during Magh Bihu, which is part of Makar Sankranti celebrations.
10. Dips in sacred rivers: In Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, devotees dip in sacred rivers like Ganga. It’s an auspicious way to cleanse the body and soul.
Are you interested in sharing the essence of Uttarayan with your kids and loved ones?
I wrote a children’s book on Uttarayan titled ‘Dancing with Kites: An Uttarrayan Adventure‘.