For sweet beginnings

For sweet beginnings

Sankranthi celebrations

For sweet beginnings

As another ‘Makara Sankranthi’ approaches with all its grandeur and traditions, Bengalureans are set to partake in the festivities. Ringing  in the harvest festival are Kannadigas and Teluguites in the city, who will be observing ‘Makara Sankranthi’ and Tamilians, who will be observing ‘Pongal’ today.

Kannadigas like Suchitra Gururaja Nadiga, a sales coordinator. say, “‘Makara Sankranthi’ marks the beginning for us. We prepare sweets and ‘avarekai’ pongal, which we consume during the day. The celebrations include  wearing new clothes and distributing ‘yellu bella’ among friends and families. And everyone is wished good luck for the year ahead.” She adds that the day’s feast also includes items like ‘kosambari’ and ‘shavige payasa’.

Model and actor Bindu Rao says that this is the day people distribute ‘yellu bella’ without expecting anything in return. “The day is a chance to spread positivity. When we hand out the mixture, we tell people to eat sweet and think sweet thoughts. I have always had great memories of the day, where the family comes together and enjoys the time spent with each other,” says Bindu. She adds that the day is a big occasion for farmers as it marks the season of harvesting. “Thus anything from sugarcane to groundnuts to ‘avarekai’ is part of the festival,” she adds.

Taking a nostalgic view, Sharath Kumar, who hails from Chikkamagaluru, says that the day brings back memories of kite flying. “I remember having friendly battles with my cousins at the nearest playground or atop terraces. Since winter is the season of infections, it is believed that soaking in the early morning rays of the sun can help one stay healthy,” says he.

Waking up early in the morning and taking an oil bath and immersing oneself into the festive mode as a family is the biggest part of the day, says Latha Veeranna, a homemaker. “After a visit to the temple,  we worship  the cow and then offer bananas to it. After this, we have breakfast together which would be ‘pongal’ or ‘khichdi’. The spread for lunch would also include ‘obattu’ and ‘kosambari’,” details Latha.

It is also a festival of forgiveness and thanksgiving, says Hamsa Karthik, a Teluguite.
“As a child, I remember my mother telling me a story about how even the Sun god forgets his anger towards his son ‘Shani’ and visits him on this day,” she says. Hamsa adds that this is also why people distribute sweets. “It is the day to let bygones be bygones.”  The festival is celebrated over three days, elaborates Sudha Bharadwaj, a Teluguite. “The previous day is observed as ‘bhogi’, where old things are burnt, which symbolises surrendering to the lord, moving on from the past and welcoming the new year,” says Sudha.

“The day’s menu includes pumpkin, ‘avarekai’,  sweet potato and groundnuts,” she adds.The Tamilians celebrate ‘Pongal’ with grandeur as  they consider the day as an  auspicious beginning to the year ahead. Karthika Poornakrishna Iyer, a homemaker, says ‘Pongal’ means festivity or celebration. “It can also be loosely translated as ‘boiling over’ or ‘overflow’. This is why we make the sweetened dish with rice that is boiled with lentils, which is to be ritually consumed this day,” she says.

The day, which coincides with ‘Makara Sankranthi’, is significant for Tamilians and  they decorate the front of their houses with elaborate ‘kolam’ patterns. Saranya G, a business coordinator, says that the day includes cleaning the house and decorating it with coloured paper and indulging in traditional food.

“On the day, everyone goes to the temple together and after coming back home, we join in the festivities by playing games like ‘hide and seek’ and
‘anthakshari’,” he adds.