The festival of harvest

The festival of harvest

Makara Sankranthi, the festival of harvest, is celebrated with much gaiety in rural areas across the State. The festival is marked by farmers worshipping mother nature for blessing them with a good harvest. They also acknowledge the support of people and cattle on the occasion. The festival marks the beginning of the season of village fairs.

Sankranthi celebrations vary from place to place as per local traditions. In Ballari district, Sankranthi is observed on two days. On the first day, called bhogi, the rain god is worshipped for bringing prosperity. It is also the day when elders of the family offer a small share of all the crops grown to the people who work in their farm. Newly harvested crops like pumpkin, groundnut, pulses, field beans, sugarcane, ber, foxtail millet and rice along with sesame oil are placed in bamboo or cane baskets and handed over to them.

Rashi Pooja, where all harvested crops are aesthetically put together and worshipped, is also practised in many places. The festive fervour spreads from the farm to the kitchen in these days, where a variety of dishes reflecting the crop diversity of the region are prepared. Along with the popular ellu-bella, foxtail millet dishes, like payasam and huggi, are also prepared on the Sankranthi day in the Ballari region. In the past, it was customary for all family members to gather in the farm, where food was prepared and served.

Now people cook the traditional food at home and take it to the farm on decorated bullock carts and cherish the dishes with friends and relatives. People who reside in towns and cities make it a point to participate in the celebration. In the evening, they throw jowar plants on the roof of the house, praying for prosperity. While the people of Raibag taluk in Belagavi district prepare pearl millet roti on the Sankranthi day, people of Bailhongal taluk make a special dish of jowar.

In the old Mysuru region, most of the day is spent in decorating the bullocks meticulously. The embellishment and the decoratives used indicate the creativity of the master. Kicchu Hayisuvudu, a ritual involving bullocks and their master running through flames, is popular in Mysuru and Mandya districts. It is believed that it wards off evil and brings good luck.

In some villages people erect small pyramid-shaped, temple-like structures using mud. The structures, called gudis, are decorated with locally available wild flowers and leaves. Interestingly, native plants with medicinal properties, which otherwise are ignored as weeds, are used significantly during the festival.

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