Makar Sankranti is one of the most significant festivals of India that is celebrated with diverse names and rituals in different parts of the country. Fundamentally, it is a festival that marks the new season of crop harvesting. People worship the Sun God for a bumper harvest in the coming season as bumper yield brings good fortune, health, and wealth.
Makar Sankranti is an auspicious day when the sun enters the zodiac sign Capricorn (makar) which connotes the end of winter and the beginning of warmer months and longer days. Makar Sankranti also marks the beginning of Magh month (a month in Hindu Calendar Panchanga) and new year. Makar Sankranti is also known as Uttarayan as from this day onwards the sun begins its journey to the north which is known as Uttarayan journey.
Sankranti is prominently celebrated in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. Besides Uttar Pradesh, the festival is celebrated with the same name in Harayana, Bihar, and Delhi. This festival is also known as Uttarayan in Gujarat, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Magh Bihu in Assam, and Lohri in Punjab.
Legends have it that even the ancient people used to celebrate Makar Sankranti but the purpose was to worship the Sun God so that he would save them from harsh cold weather. Another popular folklore states that on this day King Bhagirathi brought river Ganga on Earth.
The time period of Uttarayan that begins with Makar Sankranti also finds its mention in the epic Mahabharata as Bhishma waited for Uttarayan to leave his mortal body. It is believed that people who die during this period escape the cycle of birth and death.
1. Food. Being a popular festival in India the food associated with it is also very popular. People in North India relish food items such as Churma of ghee, Til Patti, Gajak, Revri, Til Laddoo, Gud (jaggery), and Khichdi.
2. Kite Flying. One of the most exciting and vibrant highlights of Makar Sankranti is kite flying that is predominantly observed in cities of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. People decorate their kites or opt for different sizes and colours of kites especially for the festival.
3. Khichdi, Pulses, and Sesame Seeds Donation. People in North India prepare prashad from pulses, jaggery and sesame seeds which after offering to the Sun God they eat and also donate among the needy.
4. Holy Dip in Magh Mela at Triveni Sangam. People often head towards Triveni Sangam near Prayagraj on Makar Sankranti to take a holy bath in the sacred waters of Triveni Sangam that is the confluence point of 3 rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. A holy dip on Makar Sankranti brings good luck in abundance and also washes off one’s sins. Read More
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in various indigenous ways in India. In Delhi and Harayana people prepare Kheer, bajre ki khichdi and halwa and the brother of a married girl is supposed to visit his sister’s home with warm clothes and gifts for her family. In Punjab, a day before makar Sankranti, people celebrate a similar kind of festival, Lohri where people light a bonfire and dance around it. They also offer the Fire God edible items like revri, gajjak, gur and popcorn.
People of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan make sweets such as gajjak til-patti, puwa, and pheeni to mark the celebration. In Assam, it is known as Magh Bihu, here people prepare rice cakes, til pitha and laru some popular traditional dishes for the feast.
In Maharashtra ladies prepare puran poli, multi-coloured sugar syrup coated halwa, and til-gul laddoo for Sankranti.
If you wish to witness this significant festival in its full glory then arriving at Triveni Sangam near Prayagraj (Allahabad) is a perfect pick as the festivities here are unique and vibrant. During this time, Prayagraj (Allahabad) also hosts the annual Magh Mela for which Makar Sankranti is an auspicious day. Triveni Sangam is roughly 7 to 8 km away from Prayagraj. The city is well connected to other cities via the following transportation modes.
By Road. Tourists may opt to travel via state-run or private inter-state tourist buses. Civil Lines Bus Stand in Prayagraj which is located 10km away from Triveni Sangam is the nearest. From there one may take a taxi or a local bus to reach the banks of the Sangam. If you are passionate about long drives or are a biking enthusiast planning to cover the highways and the byways of India then you may take the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, NH 52, NH 19 and NH 44 arriving from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively.
By Rail. Allahabad Chheoki Junction (5.5km), and Naini Junction (5.7km) are the two nearest railway stations where one may deboard the train to reach Triveni Sangam. From the station, one may take a taxi, auto or a local bus to reach the desired location. Poorva Express and Seemanchal Express from Delhi, Mahanagri Express from Mumbai, Shipra Express and Vibhuti Express from Kolkata and Sanghamitra Express from Bengaluru are a few regular trains that one may consider taking if planning to travel by train.
By Air. Allahabad Airport IXD is the nearest airport to reach Triveni Sangam. Air India and IndiGo run regular flights from all the metro cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru to Prayagraj (Allahabad). From the airport, one is required to travel another 25km approx. in a taxi, auto or a bus to reach Triveni Sangam.
You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here