Harvest festival in India is of great importance and celebrated across various states with different names such as Makar Sankranti, Uttarayan, Magh Bihu, Pongal, and many more.
Though the name of the festival varies according to the state and region the basic idea behind celebrating it is almost the same. The festivity is celebrated to mark the first yield of the crop. The farmers and agrarians also thank mother Earth for providing food and livelihood. It is a moment of joy and happiness as the first yield is cultivated. You can witness vibrant celebrations of the harvest festival in India across various parts and here are a few that are celebrated in January.
Uttarayan - Gujarat
Ahmedabad is on known as the kite capital of Gujarat and no doubt it stands up to the name. Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Uttarayan in Gujarat where people gather on the terrace and fly kites with their friends and family. Kite flying is almost like a tradition for the people of the state. An International Kite Festival is also organised every year where people not only from India but also abroad can participate.
Date: January 14
Makar Sankranti - Rajasthan
The sky is painted with colourful kites all over the state during the time of Makar Sankranti. And the scene becomes more beautiful with the backdrop of Rajasthan's iconic monuments. It is believed that the tradition of kite flying in Rajasthan was started during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II. During those days, a special kite called 'tukkal' used to be made from fine cloth, and people still carry forward this tradition with the same vigor.
Name: Makar Sankranti
Date: January 14
Lohri - Punjab
Lohri marks the beginning of harvest in Punjab. It's also celebrated as a symbol of brotherhood and unity in the community. A bonfire is lit during the night to seek blessings and prosperity from Lord Agni for the new year. People dress up in traditional Punjabi attire and dance and sing along with their loved ones. Til (sesame) chikki is prepared on this day as the word Lohri itself comes from 'tilhori' i.e til meaning sesame and ‘rorhi’ meaning jaggery which is both good for the body during winter.
Date: January 14
Pongal - Tamil Nadu
Pongal is a harvest festival of the Tamil community. It is a celebration to thank the sun, mother nature, and the various farm animals that help to contribute to the harvest. This is a 4-day long festival where Tamilians make Sakkarai Pongal on the first day. It is made of jaggery and rice in mud pots from the first harvest of the season. Decorating cows and their horns after a proper bath is also one of the traditions followed. Jallikattu is a famous bullfighting competition played on this day.
Date: January 15 - 18
Magh Bihu - Assam
Unlike other harvesting festivals, Magh Bihu marks the end of the harvest season in Assam. It is also called Bhogali Bihu and is celebrated for 2 days. The eve of Magh Bihu is called Uruka where the bonfire is lit and members of the family feast together. The next day is the main Magh Bihu where people gather around the ‘Meji’ (bonfire) and pray to the Holy Fire by offering ‘Maah Khorai’ (a combination of roasted rice, black gram, sesame, and pieces of ginger) and ‘Pithas.'
Name: Magh Bihu
Date: January 14 - 15