The festival of Sankranti has arrived with all its colours and vibrancy. From cleaning up homes to preparing delicacies, festivities have begun in all its glory. Like every festival, Makar Sankranti too has a host of traditional delicacies prepared in every household to celebrate the auspicious festival. Each community has a unique style of celebrating Sankranti.
In Andhra, the festival is spread over three days — Bhogi, Sankranti and Kanumu. But preparations in Telugu households have begun days ahead of the festival. For 55-year-old Lakshmi Mudunuru, a resident of Visakhapatnam, Sankranti is not just a festival but a way to go back to her roots. “The scale at which the festival is celebrated in the rural side of Andhra is an altogether different experience. In the cities, the festivities have become muted over the years. I try to recreate what we have seen in our childhood, though on a much smaller scale. We start the preparations for sweet dishes like Boorelu, Ariselu and other specialities like Pulihora a couple of days ahead.”
Tanuja Ramsai Raju, who moved to the city nearly a decade ago, says that she gets a childlike excitement to spot the well-decorated Gangireddus in the streets. She recalls a time when she would find these and the Haridasus — once believed to be a harbinger of fortune — everywhere during Sankranti and watch people exchange greetings after the bhogi mantalu. “Today, the celebrations have scaled down with urbanisation. But I ensure that some part of the traditions are followed and my son gets to know the significance of the festival,” she says.
A Maharashtrian treat
The Maharashtrian families in Visakhapatnam celebrate the festival in their own traditional way. For 70-year-old Vidya Saple, who shifted to the city from Sawantwadi (Maharashtra) over two years ago, the festival of Sankranti is all about food and family time. Reminiscing the celebrations in her hometown, she says that the festival begins a day prior to Sankranti when families celebrate bhogi. Bhogi is associated with a special dish called bhakri (a flat unleavened bread) made of Bajra, in which a generous amount of sesame seed is added. This is teamed with baigan bharta (smoky eggplant preparation). “Bajra and sesame seed are believed to keep the body warm and increase immunity. Since January is usually cold in Maharashtra, these are preferred over the commonly made jowar bhakri,” she says. Sesame seeds and jaggery play a significant role in the Sankranti celebrations at the Marathi households. Families go around the city and meet relatives and friends and exchange sweets. Tilgul, a sweet made from til (sesame seeds) and gul (jaggery) is synonymous to the festival and exchanged in every household. Gud Poli (commonly known as Bobatlu in Telugu) is another popular festive delicacy.
“The most important part of the celebration is sugdi puja. Sudgi is a type of earthen pot that is made especially for the festival. These are not available in this part of the country,” she says.
Sankranti or Uttarayan takes on a different flavour in Gujarat. The Gujaratis who have made Visakhapatnam their home try to recreate the festivities in their households by observing some traditions. Meghna Mehta, a Gujarati homemaker who has been living in the city for the three years says, “The traditional lunch during the festival is Undhiyu and Poori, which is prepared in every Gujarati household. This is an intrinsic part of the celebrations at our home.” Undhiyu is a mixed vegetable dish made with green beans, raw banana, eggplants, muthia (dumplings made with fenugreek leaves and spiced chickpea flour), potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
Spirit of Lohri
Sankranti, celebrated as Lohri in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, marks the end of sowing season and the onset of harvesting winter crops. People dress up in bright clothes and the city’s gurudwaras are decorated, while special langars are also prepared. The festival is celebrated by the Sikh communities by lighting a holy bonfire. However, Gurmeet Kolhi, who moved to the city over 34 years ago, says that there is more to the festival than just the bonfire. “People offer ceremonial prayers to the bonfire and throw puffed rice in it. The festival mostly brings people together who wish for each other’s well-being. Of course, food is a major highlight of the festival. Most of the sweets are made from til (sesame seed) and gud (jaggery) as they are typical winter food,” she says. Apart from that the festival is synonymous with sarso ka sag and makke ki roti, which is prepared in almost every household on the day of Lohri. Another highlight of the festival is the til revadis, bite-sized balls made from jaggery, sesame seeds, and nuts.
All about kites
- Kite flying is one of the traditions of Sankranti. From the past six years, Agarwal Mahasabha has been conducting kite flying festival on the Beach Road. This year too, the organisation will be hosting the festival with much fervour.
- Venue: Beach opposite Hotel Novotel
- Date: January 15
- Time: 10 am to 2 pm