Makar Sankranti is the day of diety Sun God. It denotes the day when Sun enters into the Makara which indicates the end of the month. It also denotes the beginning of longer days and end of the winter solstice. While most of the Hindu festivals are based on lunar calendar, the Makara Sankranti is based on the Solar cycle and hence the festival appears on the same day of every year.
It is known by various names across India such as Lohri in North India, Pongal in South India, Bihu in northeast India and Sukarat in central India.
It is celebrated in various ways across India. Many people take a dip in the holy water of the rivers Ganga and Prayag and offer prayers to Sun God. The most famous Kumbh Mela which is held once in 12 years during Sankranti. Different states have different names for this festival.
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala: Makar Sankranthi
Assam: Magh Bihu
Bihar, Chattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Jammu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal: Makar Sankranti
Tamil Nadu: Thai Pongal
Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab: Maghi
Shishur Saenkraat: Kashmir
Western Bihar: Khichidi
Apart from India, Makar Sankranti is also celebrated in other countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In Nepal, it is known as Maghe Sankranti where people take a dip in Bagmati river. In Bangladesh, it is celebrated as Shakhrain by flying kites. In Pakistan, Sindhi people celebrate it as Tirmoori by sending laddoos to their married daughters.
Dr. V. Shashikanth