Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti – India’s Favorite Harvest Festival

Makar Sankranti is one of India’s most popular harvest festivals. Farmers all over India wait till the months of January-February to harvest their crop and express gratitude to god for the year’s harvest.

The name, “Makar Sankranti” is loosely translated to mean “Capricorn Transition”. Thus, Makar Sankranti is celebrated on the day the sun reaches its southernmost dip and then starts moving northwards.

Makar Sankranti is celebrated all over India, and each region has its own unique celebration. For example, the world’s largest gathering of people, the Kumbh Mela, organized in Allahabad (now Prayagraj) is inaugurated with the first dip on Makar Sankranti. Here’s a good photo album on Kumbh Mela.


Punjab celebrates Sankranti as “Maghi”. Taking an early morning dip in the river is considered an essential part of the Maghi celebrations. The Hindus light Diyas or lamps with sesame seed oil, as it is known to invite prosperity and drive away all sin.

Since Maghi is celebrated during peak winter seasons, the food eaten is very rich and high in calories. Slow-cooked Kheer, Khichdi, Jaggery, etc. are main components of the menu during Maghi celebrations.

Rajasthan and Western Madhya Pradesh:

“Sankrant” is a big deal in Rajasthan and MP. Sankrant holds a lot of cultural significance in this region and is the main festival of the year.

A part of the traditional celebrations is to gift 13 married woman any household item. A married woman’s first Sankrant has much value – she is invited to her maternal home along with her husband for a huge feast. Sweets such as Til-Gud Laddu (Sesame-Jaggery Laddu) are prepared and distributed among family and friends.

Kite-flying is considered a part of the tradition in this region. The sky is filled with colorful kites, with people of all ages engaging in kite-cutting contests.

Kite StoreA good old kite store in Rajasthan

Tamil Nadu – 4 days of Pongal

Sankranti is celebrated as “Pongal” in Tamil Nadu. It is celebrated across four days, with each day dedicated to a different god associated with agriculture.

The first day is celebrated as Bhogi wherein farmers express their gratitude to Lord Indra. The other three days are Thai Pongal, Maattu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal.

Pongal is a delicacy prepared as Prasadam for the deities. It is incredibly simple to make and takes about 30 minutes. On Pongal day, women of each neighborhood come out and cook pongal on the streets, marking a celebration of hope, abundance, and sharing.

Women making pongal dishWomen participating in a community pongal-cooking celebration in Dharavi, Mumbai.


Odisha celebrates Sankranti with much enthusiasm and faith. Deities are offered Prasadam prepared using uncooked newly harvested rice, jaggery, coconut, banana, sesame, rasagola, etc.

Apart from this, devotees at the Konark temple pray with much intensity as the sun starts its northward swing. Apart from the usual traditions, there are also a few unique traditions here. For example, people reaffirm their friendship with their best friends during Sankranti.

Assam – Bihu

Assam celebrates Bihu which signifies the end of the harvesting season for the year. The festivities of Bihu last up to a week and are adorned by bonfires and colorful Rangolis drawn everywhere.

Traditionally, the youth build huts made out of bamboo, leaves, etc., and then feast in those huts. Then, the next morning those huts would be burnt.

Assam sees and tastes a lot of delicacies during Bihu – such as a traditional Assamese cake made using Bamboo. Read more about Shunga Pitha


Gujarat sees a lot of vibrance for Sankranti. It is celebrated for two days in this region with the first day being called “Uttarayan”. Skies in major cities are filled with kites of various sizes and shapes. There is a fierce kite cutting competition, and the cord used to fly kites is usually strengthened.

A Common Sight in Gujarat Throughout the Month of January

Winters in Gujarat are cold as well, which means that a lot of cold weather food is prepared during Sankranti, ranging from simple snacks like Chikki, to complicated dishes like Undhiyu.


 Makar Sankranti is celebrated in Maharashtra for two days. There is a lot of emphasis on community, hence Maharashtrians distribute Til-Gul Laddus, and wish for the other person to utter only sweet words for the year. Apart from these laddus, Maharashtrians also prepare another delicacy called Puran Poli. You can try the recipe for Puran Poli here.

 Delhi & Haryana

This region views Sankranti as one of the main festivals of the year.

Married women are visited by one of their brothers who brings a gift of warm clothing for her family. She offers sweets to her brother, such as Churma.


For farmers in Karnataka, January-February bring about Suggi, which is the harvest festival celebrated here. In a ritual called Elle Burodhi, girls wear new clothes and visit the homes of friends, family and neighbors with an offering of a small plate of Sankranti offerings. The plate generally consists of white sesame seeds mixed with fried groundnuts, dry coconut and fine cut jaggery.

Among other rituals such as kite flying, one of the most important rituals involves the display of cows and bulls in colorful attire in open fields. The cows are dressed up for the occasion and are taken out for a procession. They are also made to jump over an open fire. This is quite common among farmer communities in rural Karnataka.


India’s little neighbor celebrates Sankranti as Maaghe Sankranti. Celebrations involve lots of pomp and show, along with a ton of food cooked as offerings to deities distributed among friends and family. Here’s a very good blog on an authentic Maaghe Sanranti experience in Nepal.

Do add comments about your own cultural practices of celebrating Pongal/Sankranti/Lohri/Bihu. Daana, and all our farmers wish you a very happy Makar Sankranti!

Celebrate the Harvest

Celebrate the Harvest

Makar Sankranti, the four day harvest festival of India is here and we are ready to express our gratitude to the life giving Sun, the life bearing Earth and the bounty that we have received through them, through the year. Known by different names across the country Pongal, Lohri, Bhogali Bihu, the celebrations are diverse and specific to each region. The Sun moves into the Makar rasi or Capricorn constellation marking the end of winter and Dakshinayana and the start of spring and Uttarayana, the auspicious period.  Devotees take a dip in the holy rivers. Homes are stocked with newly reaped harvest and hearts are overflowing with thanks, joy and gratitude.

With more than half the population of the country engaged in agriculture and allied activities, the mood of celebration grips the entire nation. Preparations begin weeks in advance. City dwellers book their tickets in advance for a trip to the hometown because they know the last minute surge pricing will burn a hole in their pockets. Those who haven’t been able to go back hometowns take to rooftops and playgrounds armed with colourful kites because the breeze is inviting and the sun is nice and warm.

In every village, farmers clean and paint their homes. Old stuff is taken out and made a bonfire of, on Bhogi the first day of the festival. People dance and sing around the bonfire to keep the last of the biting cold away.  In a run up to the festival the front yard is given a cow dung water wash every morning. Rice flour kolams and colourful rangavallis decorate every threshold in the South.

Haridasu’ sing out their stories. ‘Gangireddu, the decorated bull who is seen as ‘Nandishwara’ dances to drum beats and music in every street. This is an ancient art form of entertainment that brings the community together. Recreational animal sports like cock fighting, jallikattu, kambala are looked forward to. On the third day of Kanumu, the ancestors are remembered and blessings sought from elders.

Women get busy making snacks like palli laddu, sakkinalu and muruku in the SouthIn the North they make gajak, a popular snackIn the South, cooking Pongal in a mudpot with milk and new rice is an age old tradition. As the milk boils over, everyone calls out ‘Pongalo pongal’ to usher in prosperity into their homes.


Try out these traditional recipes and relish during Sankranti. In keeping with the spirit of gratitude to mother earth, we recommend that you choose organic and locally sourced ingredients, pour out all your love and gratitude in the making of these dishes. Nothing describes celebration more than a delicious and nourishing meal.

Ven Pongal (Also called the Savory Pongal):


  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup split moong dal
  • Salt to taste

For Seasoning:

  • 2 tbsps ghee
  •  1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp black pepper, coarsely pounded
  • 2 tsps cashew nuts pieces
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


Wash the moong dal and rice and keep aside. In a pot, add a little ghee and roast the dal till the raw flavour disappears. Add five cups of water and some salt. Cook till soft. Mash the dal rice mix well with a ladle. The consistency should be somewhat loose. In a seasoning ladle, take some ghee, add cashew nut and fry till golden brown. Remove and keep aside. In the same ladle, add cumin seeds, grated ginger and curry leaves. When it is spluttering, add to the pongal and stir well. Garnish with fried cashew nuts and serve hot with coconut chutney.

Sweet Pongal:


  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/4 cup chana dal
  • 1-1/2 cup jaggery
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups water

For Seasoning:

  • 2 tbsps ghee
  • Raisins, cashews, almonds, cardamom


Roast the rice and chana dal separately just till they are hot, not brown. Now boil the milk and water. Once the milk starts bubbling, add the roasted rice and dal and let them cook. In a separate pan, melt the jaggery in half a cup of water till it reaches one string consistency. When the rice and dal are cooked to a porridge like consistency, add this jaggery mixture and switch off the stove. Do not light the stove and cook once you add the jaggery mixture, as the pongal will curdle. (Jaggery and milk when cooked, curdle). Mix all the contents in your vessel, till they blend. In a seasoning spoon, add ghee. Once it melts, add the cashews,almonds, raisins and elaichi. Add this seasoning to the prepared Pongal and serve hot.

You can buy organic ingredients listed in the above recipes from Amazon or BigBasket

Sujata C

Recipes by Bhuvana