Monday, January 14, 2013

Makar Sankranti

Just when I thought there were no fun holidays in January,
it turns out there are--I just had to go global to find one.
 Makar Sankranti, the Indian harvest festival,
 takes place every January 14th.
According to, Makar Sankranti
occurs 21 days after the winter solstice and
marks the transmigration of the Sun from one house of the zodiac to another.
When this happens, the Sun appears to move northward.

photo courtesy of

This holiday is said to be auspicious, signaling a return to good times 
after what is considered an inauspicious period in mid-December.
In the villages, bonfires are lit the night before
and children create garlands from cow dung to burn in the sacred fires.
Not as festive as garlands of ivy; but effective all the same, I guess,
especially considering that cows are highly esteemed in Indian culture.
The next day, farm animals and implements are decorated 
in honor of the holiday.
In some areas, children fly colorful kites.

photo courtesy of

Ancestors are honored, as are the Hindu sun god Surya
and the goddess of knowledge, Saraswati. 
Children are showered with candies and sweets--
by some accounts to protect them from the evil eye. 

But apparently the foods and rituals of  the Makar Sankranti
holiday celebrations vary widely around India and South Asia
with everyone celebrating a little differently.
This is great news for those of us looking 
for a reason to celebrate something in mid-January 
(besides birthdays, of course).
I don't have a kite to fly, but I'm thinking if the sun comes out today,
I'll pause a moment and think about Makar Sankranti
and maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll have Indian food for dinner. 

No comments: