What is Makar Sankranti festival and how it is celebrated in Gujarat

Makara Sankranti (also known as Maghi) is a Hindu festival devoted to Surya (sun), celebrated on the 14th of January every year. This article explains how the people of Gujarat celebrate Makara Sankranti and gives information on the special Uttarayan recipes of Gujarat, as also details of the international kite festival celebrated in Gujarat.

As per the Hindu belief, Makar Sankranti is the beginning of the auspicious period for six months- a victory of light over the darkness or the end of the darkest night of the year. Makar Sankranti is being celebrated in almost all parts of India by different names and traditions. In the northern and western states of India call it Lohri, while southern parts as Pongal, In Andra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamilnadu this festival is celebrated for 4 days. In Uttar Pradesh, Sankranti is called 'Khichiri 'and in Assam, it is called Magh Bihu and so on.

How Makar Sankranti celebrated in Gujarat?

In Gujarat, Makara Sankranti is known as 'Uttarayan/Uttran'. People of Gujarat marked this is one of their major festivals in the region where they live. Though the festival Uttarayan' is in the month of January, people keenly wait from the day when the Diwali festival ends.

Why people in Gujarat wait for Uttarayan?

The festival of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan in Gujarat is a favorite kite-flying festival for all, without any gender or age barrier, which is celebrated on the 14th of January of every year. People of Gujarat celebrate this kite flying on January 14th as Uttarayan and 15th known as Vasi Uttarayan (Vasi means 'stale') last for two days. On these 2 days, most of the working institutions and education institutions keep closed all over in Gujarat and you can see everywhere only kite sellers, buyers, and people enjoying kite flying. These days you can witness the sky filled with colourful kites in different shapes and sizes.

What the people of Gujarat do on the Uttarayan festival?

Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti is a 2 days festival in Gujarat. On these days (January 14th and 15th) you can see families and friends in all age groups, rich and poor, old and young, gathered on the rooftop (terrace) of each building. On these days friends and neighbors gather in one place for group kite-flying. They enjoy the kite flying like anything by joking, cheering, singing and dancing without any age barrier, caste, and religion. Often they make competition to cut down the kite of other people's kites flown on the sky. When a group cuts the kite of another group they shout and do disco dance by cheer up words like "kaypo chhe", "lapet lapet"(these are Gujarati words) and on the other side you can see the race and fighting among the children young and adult men & women to catch this kite while falling.

People start kite flying early in the morning and till late at night. Along with kite flying, there will be various fun activities, loud cinematic music play, dance, etc., and for refreshment, eat light snacks, fruits like guavas, ber(bor), peanut chikkis, etc. in regular intervals. In the evening, people enjoy by bursting firecrackers and then release a lot of brightly lit sky lanterns or gubbaras or hot air balloons from the open area/ terrace. In the darkness of night, we can see these lanterns or gubbaras flow in the sky as thousands of twinkling stars. Until late night people enjoy partying with musical programs followed by various Gujarati traditional foods in the group as a family and community. Really this uttarayan (Makarsnkranti) days give people fun and scenic views to remember for a long time.

What are the special recipes of Gujarat on the Uttarayan festival?

In Gujarat, the main dishes served on Uttarayan days are Matla Undhiyu with puri and jalebi, natural paunk/ponk, with lemon and sev, Khadi-Khichdi, etc. Besides this, the other delicious food items like chikkies (made of sesame seeds, peanuts and jaggery), dhokla, khakhra, Handvo, Fafada, etc, are also an integral part of the kite flying festival days.

What are Matla Undhiyu and Pounk/Ponk ?

Matla Undhiyu is a spicy oily mix vegetable cooked in the earthen pot using seasonable fresh vegetables available during the winter. Pounk/Ponk is prepared from sorghum (Jowar millet) green immature grains that lightly roasted over the hardwood-charcoal fire. It is a seasonable instant raw snack of Gujarat served with lemon and sev.

Utran recipes-1
Photos of Natural Paunk(ponk) and Matla Undhiyu (source - Wikipedia and edited photo images)

About International Kite Festival in Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Considering the growth of tourism, since 1989 as a part of the Uttarayan (Makar Sankranti) celebration in India, the city Ahmedabad in Gujarat has hosted the International Kite Festival. Thus Uttarayan(Makar Sankranti) festival has become an internationally well-known event and one of the biggest festivals of India. A large number of competitors from all over the world come to Ahmedabad for participating in this International Kite Flying Festival. The contestants participate in this contest are including master kite makers and famous kite flyers from various countries. With their innovatively created colorful kites of various designs and shapes, each contestant shows the expertness of their own in the height of the vast open sky. This is one of the most spectacular sightings for the onlookers.

Date and Venue of International Kite festival 2020

  • The international kite festival organizes in Ahmedabad is from 06th January 2020 to 14th January 2020.
  • The venue of the International Kite festival 2020 is at Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad.
  • To visit the international kite festival 2020, there is no entry fee. It is free for all visitors but the kite flying area is limited to participants only with pre-registration.
  • Visiting time of Kite festival is between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm and cultural program timings between 08.00 p.m. to 10.p.m

How to reach the venue of the International Kite festival 2020?

  • By Air
  • The nearest airport is Sardar Valla Bhai Patel International Airport which is well connected with domestically from all metropolitan cities and major cities as well as internationally Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and New York, etc. This airport is about11.00kms away from the International Kite festival 2020 Venue. From the airport, one can reach easily the venue by several means of transportation available like taxi, Auto-rickshaw, public transport, etc
  • BY Train
  • Ahmedabad railway station is well connected with different parts of Gujarat and other Indian states / major cities rail service. The driving distance to the venue of the Kite festival 2020 from Ahmedabad Railway station is about 6 km.
  • By Bus
  • Ahmedabad central Bus stand is about 4 km away from the Sabarmati Riverfront where the Kite festival organizes. It is manageable by walk or rickshaw.
    For more details about the International Kite festival, you can visit the website: http://ikf.gujarattourism.com/


    Author: Varghese20 Jan 2020 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 9

    A good cover of the Makar Sankranti festival by the author. The author has covered his area, that is Gujarat, and mostly everywhere it is the same. Being brought up in Mumbai, I had the opportunity of celebrating it in a bit Maharashtraian way, though we had Gujaratis also in our society and the celebration was a mix but the rituals would differ slightly.

    Makar Sankranti is a festival that welcomes the Sun God i.e the day when both the day and night are equal and even marks the harvest season for Maharashtra. The festival is for 3 days but in metro-cities, we normally see only one day and every ritual of the three days is completed on a single day. Much before the festival, the Maharashtrians clean their houses and make sure that everything is unblemished. On a festive day, most of them wear their traditional Maharashtrian clothing.

    On the first day called 'Bhogi' both young and old fly kites outside their house to pay respect to the Surya God. The second day of the festival is the ritual of 'Haldi-kumkum' where married women apply vermillion and turmeric on each other's forehead. The third day of the festival is celebrated as 'Kinkrant' which depicts the defeat of the demon Kinkarasur.

    There also many special dishes that are made during Makar Sankranti. Til Gul(small sweets balls) made from sesame seeds, jaggery and Puran Poli(sweet flat roti) made with the stuffing of sweet lentil made from skinned split Bengal gram (chana dal) and jaggery are given to friends and family during the auspicious festival.

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