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One Festival,Many Names…

by Kolkata Today

14 January is harvest festival season in India and many parts of the country are celebrating various festivals associated with the harvest and the sun’s northward journey. Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on the occasion of these festivals, being celebrated across the country. We take a look at the festivals that India is celebrating today and the significance of a harvest festival.

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Harvest festivals


A Harvest festival is a celebration of the food grown on the land. Given the difference in climate and crops around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times at different places. In India, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Uttarayana, Lohri, and Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu are celebrated in January, while Vaisakhi is marked in April and Onam is celebrated in August–September.


Lohri celebrated in Punjab and northern parts of India

Lohri is celebrated by both Hindus and Sikhs in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Makhana, gajjak and rewri are offered to the fire and are also enjoyed by people as the main prasad of the festival. Some believe Lohri derives from ‘loh’ which is a large iron girdle where chapatis and rotis are made, and hence honors the grain from which they are made.


Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is a solar holiday denoting the northward transition of the sun into Makar (Capricorn) on its celestial path. It is the oldest and the most colourful harvest festival in India, and one of the most celebrated in the world. Observers customarily fly kites, as a metaphor of one soaring and leaping through life.

Pongal in Tamil Nadu

Pongal is another name for Makar Sankranti and is celebrated in Tamil Nadu. In Tamil, pongal translates to “spill over”, and so the festival derives its name from the tradition of boiling rice in a pot until it starts to overflow. Pongal also happens to be the name of a dish consumed during this festive time – sweetened rice boiled with lentils.

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Bhogali Bihu in Assam

The festival marks the arrival of spring and the burning of the mejis or pavilion made of clay and hay to mark the beginning of the Hindu New Year.


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