Guwahati: India has always been a land of diverse cultural identities. Every culture has their own festivals which are of great cultural significance. Few such festivals like Magh Bihu, Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal are celebrated in the month of January. Each of them have their own history and significance.
As per the understanding of a wide range of people across India, the two days in the month of January every year are meant to celebrate crops, harvesting and agriculture.
After the common celebrations associated with the New Year, the first set of the festival comes two weeks after the first day of the year.
Bihu, Lohri, Pongal and Makar Sankranti are festivals that represent different cultures but unite under one country – India. All the festivals are loosely related to one single premise – crops, but vary depending on the part of the country it is celebrated in. Let’s look at each of these four festivals that people celebrate together, separately:
The Northeast region of India celebrates the ending of harvesting season with the name of Magh Bihu. Various types of events can be seen in different villages during Magh Bihu that including Bonfire (Meji), Egg fight (Koni Juj), Bullfight among others. People enjoy the festival with traditional dance and cook various types of food called Pithas which is mainly enjoyed during Bihu time. Traditional dance, traditional games, and activities such as Cooking in Meji (Bamboo Huts) define the festival in the state of Assam. It is believed that the festival started from the time when people of the valley started tilling the land. Bihu is believed to be as old as river Brahmaputra.
A large bonfire with people dancing, singing, and having a good time is what contains the essence of this festival. Lohri is celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti and is primarily celebrated in North India, especially the agricultural state of Punjab. It marks the end of the sowing season. Delicacies and snacks, for example, Rewri, Peanuts, Sarson Ka Saag, Makke Ki Roti, etc., are enjoyed with full vigour.
Makar Sankranti follows Lohri by a day, and is a popular festival in most parts of the country, but the festivity is at its prime, mainly in North India. The festival marks the advent of the harvest season and also signifies the end of Winter as the days start getting longer. Many people dip in the sacred waters of Ganga and offer their prayers to the Sun. In many parts of North India, kites take over the skies, and delicious sweets such as Til ke Laddoo are enjoyed.
As we move down towards the South, the festivities celebrating the harvest season turn into Pongal, where the harvesting of sugarcane and rice spark joy in the people of South India. Pongal is a four-day festival that starts from January 14, and is vibrant as people decorate their cattle, paint their houses, and carry out pious processions.