Sankranthi, also know as Pongal is celebrated in various states of India. this ancient festival is a very important festival for those who hail from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is said that this festival comes when the Sun ends his southward journey and starts moving Northward. This is the time when the farmers are ready to bring home their harvest from the farms. The first day of this festival is Bhogi, the second day is Sankranthi and the third and last day is Kanuma. Haridasus, dressed up as Narada from the Hindu mythology, visit every household, reciting 'Hariloranga Hari'... Gangireddulu-The Ox and Men visit homes displaying Ox dance and skills, accepting rice and other grains that people offer. From the New Year day, ladies decorate their homes with colorful Rangoli, famously known as Sankranthi Muggu..and the count down begins. These rangolis are topped with hand-pressed balls of cow dung called as Gobbemmalu. Cow dung is said to act as a disinfectant and rangoli is made with rice flour and turmeric, another set of disinfectants to wade away insects and flies during this cold season of the year. Every night or early morning, house entrances are dressed up with these Rangolis and this is also the time to fly kites...those cool breezes are perfectly right for kite flying. Many conduct kite flying competitions and rangoli contests during this time of the year.
First day of the festival- Bhogi
This day starts very early. Camp fires are held outside many households, streets and culdisacks. They collect old furniture, dry leaves to start this campfire. The famous sweet dish of this day is the Pongali, cooked with new rice the farmers bring home and jaggery. Many celebrate the first day of this festival by arranging dolls and collectibles at their homes and invite friends and family to witness their celebration, in the evening. They dressup children under 7 years of age and shower flowers and Jujube fruits (Regi pallu) on them, blessing them with health and happiness.
Second day of the festival- Makara Sankranthi
This is the day of all the festive dishes...traditionally, appalu, chakkilalu, payasam and what not are prepared and people invite families and friends to savor the festivities. The newly wed son-in-laws are invited specially for this festival with their respective brides to her parents' place and honored with a warm celebration. Kites fly high every afternoon and evening. Temples are crowded with special rituals.
Third day of the festival- Kanuma
This is the day of the farmers..people honor the animal friends of the farmers, decorating them with flower garlands, feeding them specially. It is like a thanksgiving day for the cattle and the farmers. The bull races, cock fights are few famous celebrations of this day. Majorly, it is celebrated in the villages.
Sankranthi is soon arriving...are you ready to celebrate yours? Happy Pongal !!