The winter is about to end, and the sun will shine longer upon us, bringing the soft breezes that speak of the coming spring. People celebrate the wholesome harvests and the end of the chills and spread their arms to welcome the warmer days. A beautiful season throughout various regions of India is about to begin, and the festivities resonate across the lands. Pongal, Sankranthi, Lohri and Uttarayan are some of the key festivals to name.
While Tamil Nadu rejoices Pongal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana sing the joy of Sankranthi. Lohri in Punjab soars like the bonfires lit and echo to the beats of the dhols and folk songs and dances. The quaint state of Gujarat starts crafting and painting vibrant kites to celebrate the festival of Uttarayan. Similarly, many states across the country honour the day in their own way.
While each state has its own cultures, traditions, tales to spread and delicacies to share, the chanting of worshipping the Gods for blessing the land with a bountiful harvest remains the same. This not only spreads joy in the upcoming days but also brings friends and families together to enjoy the moment.
Let’s uncover the stories and the traditions of each of these festivals, shall we?
Dates: 15th – 18th January 2023
Celebrated in: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Sri Lanka.
Pongal is mainly celebrated by Hindu Tamilians. It marks the end of winter and the bringing of the harvest season and mainly to worship the coming of the ‘Sun god – Surya’ and to gain his blessings. Pongal translates to overflowing, which is to symbolize good harvest and prosperity. In Tamil Nadu, it lasts for 4 days, and each day holds a unique meaning. Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal, Mattu Pongal and Kanum Pongal. Houses are decorated with mango leaves, flowers and colourful rangolis.
Bhogi Pongal – 15th January
This is like a cleansing day where people throw away old things they possess and welcome new things. Bonfires are lit, and most of the old stuff is burnt. Every house is rejuvenated by dusting, wiping, cleansing and event painting at times and then festooned with garlands of flowers and lights.
Surya Ponga – 16th January
This is one of the main days of the festival. Families and neighbours come together to prepare the authentic and auspicious dish – Pongal. An earthen pot is decorated with traditional elements and placed on a lit wood fire. Freshly harvested rice is then cooked with milk and jaggery or sugar cane till it boils and overflows while people chant away happily. This is done in an open space as an offer to the ‘Sun god – Surya’. It is then served to the gods of the house and relished later on by the family.
The festival’s name might be getting your tongue tingling and your stomach growling because yes, it is a name of a renowned dish that was born due to this harvest festival. It is made in many ways in the form of savoury and sweet.
Don’t just think of the dishes; you have a chance to try them too. Check out Tamil Nadu tourism events around the festival to enjoy and savour the food.
Mattu Pongal – 17th January
The day is dedicated to worshipping the cattle and animals used to farm or which provide them with resources of their own form. They are given a bath and then worshipped. People thank them for their hard work and let them rest for a few days. Some of the cattle are decorated with flowers, turmeric and vermillion.
Kanum Pongal – 18th January
A day of the gathering of all the loved ones to seek blessings from the elders and bless the youngsters with greater happiness and prosperity in the coming days. People rejoice this day with an array of food prepared and served on a banana leaf in a traditional manner.
Date: 14th January 2023
Celebrated in: Punjab, certain places in Himachal Pradesh and in Jammu and Kashmir amongst ther northern states.
A significant festival that resounds in the northern region with beats of music, dhol, bonfires, folk songs and dances, and most importantly, a treat for the kids as they are gifted with many sweets and gifts. There are many ancient tales of how this festival came to prominence in particular cities, but the importance of it is the joy of the Sun moving and the winter coming to an end. Apart from this, it is also a prominent harvest festival which is not just celebrated by many cultures but also different religions in rural areas.
In Punjab, families gather together wearing vibrant and vivid coloured clothes, sing and move to local folk music while dancing around the bonfire. They prepare an array of delicacies and share them with their loved ones. The kids are the happiest of them all as they go singing these songs from house to house and are treated to sweets and candies or even gifts. Traditional authentic Punjabi dishes like sarson da saag, makkhi di roti and sweets made of jaggery and peanuts are relished.
In Jammu and Kashmir, local folk dances are performed, bonfires are lit, and delicacies are prepared and shared. Kids go trick or treating to houses with decorated peacocks singing and collecting sweets or gifts. The season is perfect for exploring this most scenic and stunning state and getting to be a part of the extraordinary event.
Each of the regions has their own version of Lohri songs that are sung while celebrating.
Let’s make this more interesting! Here are some amazing Road Trip Ideas through these regions that you can take this season.
Date: 14th – 15th January 2023
Celebrated in: Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and many other.
Makar Sankranthi is celebrated as the sign of God Surya’s chariot starting, symbolizing the end of winter and the coming of warmer days. It’s also the season of harvest, which adds to the essence of the festival, also known as Pongal.
In Karnataka, Sankranthi is also known as ‘Suggi’. The house is cleaned and adorned with lights, lamps, mango leaves, flower garlands and colourful rangolis. The key elements that are part of this day are a mixture of sesame seeds, cube-cut jaggery, dry coconut, roasted peanuts, fried Bengal gram in a bowl with sugar cane, beetle leaves and fruits arranged in a platter form. Then it is placed inside the Puja room of the house, and then prayers are offered to the gods by the entire family.
The eldest member of the family serves the mixture to each member while saying, “Yellu bella tindu olle maatu aadi”, translating to “Eat this mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak good words”. Girls and women of the house then go to places of close friends and families and exchange auspicious elements, sometimes accompanied by small gifts.
Similar to how the Tamilians celebrated, the people in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana carry on the festivities for 4 days. The first day called Bhogi is an event where the wood fire is lit from the broken pieces of old furniture in the house. Then people collect certain seasonal harvests and pour them over the heads of the children during the evening and perform ‘aarti’. The second day Sankranthi, is dedicated to the Sun God, the third day to worship the cattle, and the last day ends with families gathering together.
Each of these regions prepares its authentic sweet and savoury delicacies ranging from sweet Pongal made of rice, jaggery, milk, grated coconut, raisins and cashews as well as spicy Pongal made of hesar dal, pepper, green chilli, tempering served with cucumber raita. Payasam, rotti, hyacinth beans palya, and other vegetables cooked dry sabzi, raw salads, rasam, and sambar with white rice are just a few to name that is made and served on a banana leaf.
Date: 14th – 15th January 2023
Celebrated in: Gujarat
Just imagine a blue sky dotted with beautiful colours flying freely with the breeze as the chatter of conversations, laughter and murmurs of concentration fill the empty grounds or the roofs of the houses and buildings. This is how Gujarat celebrates Uttarayan, the world-renowned Kite Festival. Just like the south and other regions celebrating Pongal, Lohri and Sankranthi, this state celebrates its harvest festival and the end of the long cold days while welcoming the sunny days ahead.
People prepare a banquet full of dishes from the local harvests. They prepare a wide variety of savouries and sweets. Some of the most loved dishes to name are Jalebi, Undhiyu, which is made of Yam and beans, Chikki, which is made of jaggery and roasted peanuts or sesame seeds; Khichdi, Mamra laddu, which is made of melted sugar syrup and puffed rice sometimes enhanced with grated dry coconut and fried Bengal gram.
Communities hold events and celebrate together while exchanging dishes and having dinner gatherings. People from across the world come to participate in the International Kite Flying Festival during this time. From various traditional shapes to other extraordinary designs can be seen. The tale of flying kites during Uttarayan dates back thousands of years. There are various types of kites that one will get to see here. Not just shapes or designs but materials and make as well.
Many major cities like Bengaluru, Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai, apart from the ones in Gujarat, hold Kite Flying Festival in India. You can do a quick search on events near you and attend them with your family or friends to get your hands on flying kites or just sit and watch the soaring spectacle.
We hope you have a season blessed with celebrations, sweetness, great food, love of family and friends and prosperity. Wishing you a very Happy Pongal, Joyous Sankranthi, Exciting Lohri and a Colorful Uttarayan.