Festivals- Makar Sankrant
Makar Sankrant is the first Hindu festival of the solar calendar year, falling on January 14. It falls at a time when the Sun enters the Zodiac sign of Makar (Capricorn) and when the day and night are of equal duration. Days become longer from this point on so it is a time for celebration.
There is a wide variation in the celebration of Makar Sankrant thoughout India in particular the name:
In Gujarat and Maharashtra, Makar Sankrant is a festival of the young and the old and colourful kites are flown all around.
In Punjab, Makar Sankrant is called Lohri. December and January are the coldest months of the year in Punjab and huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankrant. Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown on the bonfires and friends and relatives gather together
In Uttar Pradesh, this period is celebrated as Kicheri. It is considered important to have a bath on this day and masses of people can be seen bathing in the Sangam at Prayagraj where the rivers Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswathi flow together.
In Southern India it's the harvest fetival Pongal and lasts for 3 days. On the first day, rice boiled with milk is offered to the Rain God. On the second day, it is offered to the the Sun God and on the third day, the family cattle are given a bath and dressed with flowers, bells and colours. The cattle are honored for their hard work in the fields.
It was again on this day that an ogress called Dhundhi, who was troubling the children in the kingdom of Prthu (or Raghu) was made to run away for life, by the shouts and pranks of the mischievous boys. Though she had secured several boons that made her almost invincible, this – noise, shouts, abuses and pranks of boys – was a chink in her armour due to a curse of Lord Siva. The day itself came to be called ‘Adada’ or ‘Holika’ since then.