As we celebrate the joyous festival of Makar Sankranti today, people across India are gearing up since early morning to dress up for puja and thereafter festivities that will make this festival a memorable one. So, this morning even I woke up to see her in a beautiful amber silk saree. Donning a gajra webbing her hair, a set of vibrant bangles in either hands clinked with each other as she completed her festive look with newly purchased gold ornaments.
“Today is Makar Sankranti. May Goddess Yellamma bless you with good health, happiness and success!” said our domestic help Shobhamma aunty who is a local resident of Bengaluru, Karnataka, as she poured a handful of prasada in my palm. Then I heard her whisper a Kannada phrase “Ellu bella thindu olle mathaadi”. When I asked her to decode this saying that sounded so beautiful in her language, she said it in raw Hindi “til aur gud ka mishran khaake, meethe shabd bolo.” She laughed when she felt her Hindi may not be as proficient but still she tried to translate the phrase.
As she swept the floor, her anklets jingled with every step that she took. When she noticed that I was mesmerisingly staring at her ornaments, she replied, “I especially bought these yesterday before Sankranti. Every month I save a part of my income only to invest my savings on buying these gold ornaments before the festival.” She smiled while she worked devotedly. It was especially today that she woke up earlier than usual to prepare for the puja and festive rituals.
Makar Sankranti 2023
It is considered auspicious for married women to worship Goddess Yellamma and offer the deity delicacies like Puran Poli roti (jaggery roti), laddu and so on, said Shobhamma. There are approximately 7 dishes (sabzis) and rotis which are prepared primarily using til and gud as these ingredients are considered quintessential for the festival.
However, Shobhamma is apparently living in Bengaluru on her own while her husband works in the countryside and hardly gets a leave to visit his wife in the city. So, apart from the food prepared for the morning puja rituals, since Shobhamma is a working woman, her mother promised to send her festive delicacies from the village today.
Although her mother insisted she visits the village to celebrate this propitious festival, she denied it because of her work commitment. As she told me this she smiled irreproachably, “I think work is my greatest worship. If at the end of the day, I can send home money for the education of my younger sister, it is all that will please God.”
As she reminisced about the festive moments in her village, she told us how there are melas in every local temple with children flying kites and girls adorning rangolis outside every house. In her village, she recalled how people would celebrate the local age-old ritual of Kicchu Haisodu which involves dressing up their cattle and showcasing them. These rituals add immense excitement and joy to the region.
More about Makar Sankranti
Celebrated every year on January 14 as a pan-India festival, Makar Sankranti is known as the festival of sun God Surya or the festival of the harvest. It is also believed that taking a dip in any holy river of the country including Ganga, Yamuna, Krishna Kaveri and Godavari, will result in the absolution of past sins. People also pray to the sun and present their gratitude.
It is known as Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh, Makara Sankranti in Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala and Maharashtra, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, and Magha Mela in parts of northern and central India.
Views expressed by the author are their own
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