Indian Holidays – January
January 10, 2021
Festival, also known as, Tyohar, is the day to celebrate belief, occasion, and happiness. India is a land of vast diversity where a festival is celebrated almost every day. One such festival is the festival of harvest. It is celebrated as a way of thanking nature for the bounty it offers in the form of new crops. Since India is a bio-diverse country, harvest festivals are celebrated at different times and are unique in the celebration. Did you know that the month of January is when three major harvest festivals are celebrated? They are Lohri, Pongal, and Makar Sankranti.
Lohri is celebrated in the regions of North India and is celebrated as the departure of the winter season. The festival holds great importance to farmers and it is a way to be thankful for a good harvest. On the 13th of January, people light bonfires to celebrate the festival as a community. The bonfire is lit around sunset, and people will circle around it and throw sesame seeds, jaggery, and rewaries in it. Sugarcane products such as gajak, jaggery are an important part of Lohri celebrations, as these are made from the crops harvested in the month of January. Apart from this til, peanuts, and popcorn are also distributed among the people as prasad, offerings made to god.1
Pongal is native to the people of Tamil Nadu, and it takes place over four days. Each day is to honor the sun god and mother nature. Pongal lasts from 14th January to 17th January. Pongal marks the day when the sun begins its northward journey, causing days to be longer than the nights.2 As part of Pongal, many people make kolam, which is a paste made of rice flour and water, milk, or coconut. According to Hindustan Times, “this white paste is considered to be pious and people use it to draw beautiful patterns and designs on the threshold of the houses or the puja area.”2
Makar Sankranti, also known as, Uttarayan, falls on the 14th of January and is the most colorful harvest festival as it is celebrated by kite flying. This day marks the first day of Sun’s movement to Capricorn known as Makara which further marks the end of short winter days. Per the Hindu theory, this festival marks the end of an unfavorable phase and the beginning of a holy phase. Many people who celebrate make sesame and jaggery ladoos or chikkis to give to friends and family.
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Lohri-Times of India