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How 8 Different States In India Celebrate Makar Sakranti – The Festival Of Harvest

Posted by Priyanka Lahiri on January 14, 2017

It’s not a stretch when it’s said that India is a land of many festivals. While each religion, faiths and state in India has its own festival, if there’s one festival that’s celebrated across India in myriad forms, it is Makar Sakranti, Pongal or any of the other local names for the same. However the basic premise of the festival remains the same – Celebrating Harvest. Sakranti marks the end of winters and beginning of harvest. India being an agrarian society, with 70% of its population engaged in agriculture, thanks and celebrates its harvest seasons, as grandly as any faith-related festivals, making for one of the best times to travel to and within India and experiencing Indian culture, diversity and colours in all their glory.

1. Gujarat – Uttarayan

Gujarat Uttarayan Kite Festival Kutch

Source: gujarattravelagent

Gujarat celebrates the festival as Uttarayan. Gujarat skies are dotted with kites and a major international kites festival is held in capital, Ahmedabad. The great white rann of Kutch, usually a beautiful picture of pristine white sand desert is offset by many kites in the sky, making way for an epic spectacle.

[To get to Kutch, you can take a bus from Ahmedabad to Bhuj or Surat to Bus.]

2.  Goa and Maharashtra – Haldi Kumkum

While everyone knows Goa as the place for the sand, surf and beach, the locals in Goa have a traditional side, unbeknownst to many others. During the Sakranti, a tradition of “Haldi Kumkum” is celebrated amongst Hindus in Goa and Maharashtra, where married women give each other gifts and apply a dollop of Haldi or turmeric paste, vermillion and sprinkle rose water on each other as a symbol of celebrating female fertility and auspicious beginnings.

3. Punjab & Haryana – Maghi

The harvest festival is celebrated as Maghi in Punjab and Haryana on the same day as Lohri.  Maghi is the Punjabi festival and mainly observed by Sikh community. It is traditional to eat sweet rice porridge with milk, which is known as Kheer, on the day of Maghi.

Sikhs visit the Gurdwara as the day of Maghi is observed to honour the heroic fight of the Chali Mukte, or the Forty Liberated Ones, who sacrificed their own lives defending an attack by the imperial army marching in pursuit of Guru Gobind Singh. A holy bonfire is lit where sesame and pop corn is sprinkled into the fire. Communities gather around the bonfire, sing songs and distribute sweets.

4. Uttarakhand – Kale Kauwa

Uttarakhand is home to some of the holiest cities of India, including Haridwar, Rishikesh and the pilgrimage hubs of Amarnath. On Makara Sankranti people give Khichadi (a mixture of pulses and rice) in charity, take ceremonial dips in holy rivers, participate in the Uttarayani fairs and celebrate the festival of Ghughutia or Kale Kauva. During the festival of Kale Kauva (literal translation ‘black crow’) people make sweetmeats out of sweetened flour (flour and gur) deep fried in ghee, shape them in shapes such as drums, pomegranates, knives, and swords. They are strung together and worn as necklace, in the middle of which an orange is fixed. Early in the morning children wear these necklaces and sing “Kale Kauva” to attract crows and other birds and offer them portions of these necklaces, as a token of welcome for all the migratory birds, who are now coming back after their winter sojourn in the plains.


5. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka- Pongal

The Pongal cooks


Sankranti is celebrated for four days in the southern states Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karantaka, in more or less similar ways, starting with Bhogi  on day one , followed by Kanuma, Mukkanuma and Makara Sankranti, the main festival day.

Bhogi is celebrated by discarding old things and lighting a bonfire out of them to signify change and letting go of bad habits and vices. In Andhra Pradesh, in many families, infants and children (usually less than three years old) are showered with the Indian jujube fruit or “Regi Pandlu” to protect them from evil eye. Sweets in generous quantities are prepared and distributed. It is a time for families to congregate. The main festival is celebrated with families visiting each other, wearing new clothes, brothers giving a gift to the sisters, offerings of sweets to dead ancestors.

Houses are decorated with Rangoli  small, hand-pressed piles of cow dung, called “gobbemma”  Sakranti is a gastronomical feast across India. In the south, families prepare many sweets made out of rice, flour, jaggery, sugarcane, and offer to the Gods. In Tamil nadu and Karnataka, the festival is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots, which are later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel. This tradition gives Pongal its name.

Showing reverence to animals, in particular cattle is important and many farmers decorate their cows and request for alms for the animal’s upkeep.


6. Bihar and Chattisgarh – Makar Sakranti/ Sakraat


In the eastern part of India, in the states of Bihar, Chattisgarh and  parts of West Bengal, the harvest festival is called Makar Sankranti or Sakraat or Khichdi (in local dialects). As in other parts of country, people take baths in rivers and ponds and feast upon seasonal delicacies as a celebration of good harvest. The delicacies include chura, gur (jaggery), sweets made of til (sesame seeds) such as tilgul, tilwa, maska, etc., curd, milk and seasonal vegetables. Kite flying festivals are organised, albeit on a small scale. At night a special Khichddi (Rice porridge) is prepared and families usually feast together.

7. Assam – Bhogali Bihu

In Assam, the harvest festival takes the name Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu. The festival is marked by feasts and bonfires. Young people erect makeshift huts, known as meji, from bamboo, leaves and thatch, in which they eat the food prepared for the feast, and then burn the huts the next morning.The celebrations also feature traditional Assamese games such as tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting. Magh Bihu celebrations start on the last day of the previous month, the month of “Pooh”, usually the 29th of Pooh and usually the 14th of January, and is the only day of Magh Bihu in modern times (earlier, the festival would last for the whole month of Magh, and so the name Magh Bihu). The night before is “Uruka” (28th of Pooh), when people gather around a bonfire, cook dinner, and make merry.

During Magh Bihu people of Assam make cakes of rice with various names such as Shunga Pitha, Til Pitha etc. and some other sweets of coconut called Laru.

8. West Bengal – Poush Sakranti

‘Makara Sankranti’ is an important festival in all parts of Bengal. The Tusu Parab is held in Birbhum District on this occasion. Groups of young girls gather every evening throughout the month of Poush (December-January) and sing songs which have been termed by the generic term Tusu. On the day of Makar Sakranti (around 15th January), people gather around a pond or a river, mostly out of the village. After offering their prayers to Goddess Tusu, people sing and dance on the banks of the river or pond.  An annual fair and festival called Poush Mela takes place in Santiniketan, in Birbhum District in the Indian state of West Bengal and the festival includes live performances of Bengali folk music, notably baul and fakir songs.

So where will you be traveling to to celebrate Makar Sakranti this year?  Book a bus to celebrate with your family, with whole lot of bus ticket offers to choose from. 


We are the road trippers, the track bashers, the ones popping our heads out the bus window to soak in that gorgeous view. In the business world, we help you travel by bus across India. But here, we are the friends you make on that long journey home. Come with us, discover the fun of travelling in India by road!


About the Author

We are the road trippers, the track bashers, the ones popping our heads out the bus window to soak in that gorgeous view. In the business world, we help you travel by bus across India. But here, we are the friends you make on that long journey home. Come with us, discover the fun of travelling in India by road!

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