The Sankranti Festival - by the Hindus in Karnataka

This resourrce describes the festival of Sankranti. Sankranti is a very important festival for the Hindus. Every year it is celebrated all over the country with fervor & enthusiasm. Each state has it own way of celebrating it & each has its own name. On the occasion of Sankranti this year, I will describe how the festival is celebrated in various parts of India.

The Sanskrit word for transition or change is sankramana. The sun's apparent motion from one sign of the zodiac to another is called Sankranti. As there are 12 signs of the zodiac, there are 12 sankrantis, the most prominent being Mesh Sankranti when the sun moves into the zodiacal sign of Aries (Mesh, in Hindu astrology), to begin the solar year, and Makar Sankranti when the sun moves into the zodiacal sign, Capricorn (Makar), to begin its northward journey known as Uttarayuna.
Unlike other Hindu festivals that change date every year, Makar Sankranti is nearly always celebrated on the 14th of January. It is celebrated with joy all over India.

In Gujarat, Orissa and Maharashtra, kite-flying competitions are held, as the weather is cool and breezy. But Shankaranthi festival is not specialy celebrated in the Karnataka State and its cities like Mysore, Bangalore..
In Maharashtra, the ladies invite each other for haldi-kumkum and distribute small laddus made of til (white sesame seeds) and gur (jaggery). 'Til gul ghya, god god bola,' they entreat each other. It means 'Eat til laddus and speak sweetly!

In Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, cheery bonfires are lit and people sing and dance around them.

In Tamil Nadu, Sankranti heralds the all-important 3- day harvest festival of Pongal. The first day is called Bhogi, when payasam (kheer) and vadas are made and offered as naivedya to the Sun, the Earth and Lord Indra. The next day is Pongal, the main festival. The courtyard is decorated with rice designs or kolam and sugarcane fronds. Early in the morning, a fire is lit in a brick choola or stove (every house constructs one in its yard), and the newly threshed rice is cooked along with jaggery and milk.
The boiling over of the milk is welcomed with a great shout of 'Pongalo, pongal!' It signifies a year full of happiness and prosperity. The morning after Pongal is Kanu, similar to Raksha Bandhan. Sisters pray for their brothers. It is also Mattu Pongal, a day when the cattle are bathed, fed and worshipped ceremonially.

Pudichiko! Pudichiko! in Tamil Nadu

In the villages, the Pongal festival ends with bullock-cart races and jallikattu which literally means 'tying the coin.' It is a contest between man and bull. In the old days, a gold coin wrapped in a piece of cloth was tied to the horns of a bull with aloe fibers. Riding the running bull, a player had to untie the cloth to earn the coin. Over the centuries, the coin has disappeared.

As soon as the bull enters the arena, the master of ceremonies shouts Pudichiko, Pudichiko (catch!). Then one or more vaulters catch hold of the bull's hump and try to ride it clinging on to its horns. The bull, excited by the noise and the crowds, keeps running at a furious pace. Once a vaulter is astride, he hangs on to the bare back of the bull and rides it for the pre-determined distance. On completion, he jumps off and runs to the master of ceremonies to claim the prize, a scarf, that he ties round his wrist.
The next bull follows and the show goes on.
More than a hundred bulls participate on one day. A vaulter may ride the bulls several times if he wishes. Simple though it may seem, the sport can be dangerous. Vaulters and even spectators can get gored. Yet, year after year, villagers in Tamil Nadu look forward to this exciting competition between men and bullocks — a sport which is said to have prehistoric origins.

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More articles: Sankaranthi Festival Karnataka Karnataka Festivals


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