People of Indian origin celebrated Makar Sankranti today, 15th January 2019. Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of the harvest season in India.
It is one of the few Indian festivals that follows the solar cycles, most of the festivals follow the lunar cycles of the Hindu calendar. Hence the date of this festival is the same every year, most often 14th January, barring a few when its on 15th January.
In Sanskrit language ‘Sankranti’ means the Sun’s movement from one constellation of the zodiac to the next one. As per Indian astronomy on Makar Sankranti, the Sun moves from Dhanu (Sagittarius) zodiac sign to Makar (Capricorn). Thus, begins Sun’s journey to the north, marking the end of Winter and start of Spring, also warmer days.
Childhood memories of the Makar Sankranti day are still vivid in my mind. On a cold morning on 14th/ 15th January, we were asked to take a shower and dress up and head to the kitchen. There in a ‘Thali’/ plate mom would have laid out small heaps of Rice, Black Lentils, one or two potatoes and spoonful to turmeric and salt. These were all the ingredients one needed to make ‘Khichdi’. We were asked to touch our respective thalis and say a small prayer. This would then be donated to the local temple priest or the poor.