Makar Sankranti which falls on 14th January marks the beginning of an auspicious phase or the holy phase of transition. It also marks the beginning of warmer and longer days as compared to nights till the next equinox. It is believed that on the very day of Makar Sankranti, the sun enters the sphere of Capricorn zodiac, also known as Makar Sankranti. It signifies the movement of sun from one zodiac sign into another. It is celebrated by Hindu devotees during the Magh Mela, held in Allahabad. The Magh Mela is a very important event for the priests and devotees alike, who all flock to the city, to sit near the banks of the holy rivers and meditate, a ritual that is known as the kalpawas.
The festival is dedicated to the Sun God. It is regarded as important for spiritual practices, which is why people take holy dip in holy river Ganges. Although celebrated across India, Makar Sankranti is known by various names in different regions; for instance, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Maghi in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, Magh Bihu in Assam, Poush Sangkranti in West Bengal amongst others.
This festival is also called Uttarayan. It is being celebrated with the flying of kites. Kite festival is also being celebrated in many cities of Gujarat, Telangana and Rajasthan. The international kite festival takes place in Ahmedabad in which kite enthusiasts from various parts of the world take part. The symbolism of the festival is to show the awakening of Gods from deep sleep. People celebrate this festival with foods that give them energy and keep them warm in this nippy weather.
Pongal is one of the most popular harvest festivals of South India, mainly in Tamil Nadu. Celebrated in the month of 'Thai', the tenth month of the Tamil calendar, the four-day festival is also referred to as 'Thai Pongal' and is celebrated to mark the beginning of Uttarayan - the sun's transition towards north for a six-month period. Thai Pongal gets its name from Tamil word Pongal which means "to boil". 'Ponga' literally means overflowing, with the abundance of rice, cereals, sugar-cane and turmeric that are harvested during the time. The tradition of new rice in pots until they overflow, is a popular tradition followed during Pongal. The ritual is symbolic of abundance and prosperity.
On this day, people clean their houses, get rid of old household items and purchase new household items. This marks the start of a new cycle. The people assemble at dawn in Tamil Nadu to light a bonfire in order to burn the discards as a symbolic ritual. The second day and the main day is Thai Pongal, people start their day with worshipping the sun God. On the third day, which is called Mattu pongal, people organise their cattle, deck them with accessories and worship them.