Makar Sankranti (also known as Makara Sankranti), marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path. It is the first change in the zodiac after the winter solstice. It marks importance in Hindu Calender. The festival is celebrated in various parts of the Indian subcontinent to observe the day that marks the shift of the sun into ever-lengthening days. The festival is a seasonal observance as well as a religious celebration.
Celebrations observed in Maharashtra:
In Maharashtra on Makara Sankranti (मकर संक्रान्ति) day people exchange multicoloured halwa (sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and til-gul laadoo (sweetmeats made from sesame seeds and jaggery). Gulachi poli (गुळाची पोळी ) (flat bread stuffed with soft/shredded jaggery mixed with toasted, ground til and some gram flour) toasted to golden in pure ghee, are offered for lunch.
While exchanging til-gul as tokens of goodwill people we greet each other with the words “तिळगुळ घ्या, आणि गोड-गोड बोला / til-gul ghyaa, aani goad-goad bolaa” meaning ‘Accept this til-gul (sweet) and utter sweet words’. The underlying thought in the exchange of til-gul is to forget the past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends. The importance of sesame seeds : it keeps body warm and provides good oil. These properties aid in winter by providing moisture to the body.
Day 1 is known as Bhogi (भोगी), day 2 as Sankrant (संक्रांत) and day 3 as Kinkrant/Kinkranti (किंक्रांत/किंक्रांती).
This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kunku’ and gifts are given such as utensils, clothes etc. Women wear black sarees / black coloured outfits during the festival. The significance of wearing black is that Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and black colour retains and absorbs heat, helping keep warm. Sankranti period is famous for kite flying on this occasion.
Makara Sankranti is the time to worship and to pay respect to Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge).
The festival is celebrated in mid-winter, the food prepared keeps the body warm and gives high energy. Bhogi chi bhajji meaning mixed vegetable with seasame is one of the specialty of the festival.
Here is a detailed recipe for the Bhogi vegetable made every year for 1 day of Sankranti i.e Bhogi.
- Carrots (1 cup finely chopped)
- Green chana (1cup)
- Tuar dane & papdi dane (type of pulses) 1cup each
- 4 - 5 Brinjals
- 2 Tomato finely diced
- White sesame 1 tsp
- Red chilli powder
- Cook all the pulses namely tuar che dane, papdi che dane and green dana in a cooker with some salt. Ideally i would give it 3 whistles with some water.
- In an utensil heat oil add mustard and once they are crackled add white sesame followed by chopped onions.
- Add turmeric and red chilli powder to the golden onions.
- Add tomatoes and some salt.
- After the tomatoes are cooked add carrots, papdi and brinjal to cook.
- Now close the lid and let the vegetables cook (add some water if required)
- Add the boiled pulses and garnish with coriander.
- Serve hot Bhogi chi bhaji with jawari chi bhakri.