When the sun enters into the makara zodiac sign on its celestial path, we welcome spring with the celebration of Makara Sankaranthi. It is a harvest festival celebrated throughout India. It is the festival of Sun God and is regarded as the symbol of dignity and wisdom. The Sun god ends it southward travel(Dakshinayana) and starts moving northwards(Utharayana).
There is a legend that Goddess Mahishasuramardhini came to the earth to destroy the demon Mahishasur, after sunset on the date of makara sankaranthi. So, every woman is regarded as the protector of the family. So, much importance is given to women on this day. As per Mahabharatha, Bhishma had got the power to control his own death, chose to die on the Makara Sankaranthi day. The Hindus take ritual baths at auspicious river locations on this day, throughout the country.
The day preceding makara sankaranthi is known as Bhoghi. People discard old things in their house and buy new ones on this day. It is believed that new good changes in life will take place on this day.
On the makara sankaranthi day, Sun God is worshipped and Sweet pongal & Venpongal are prepared as neivedhya . When there are small children(below age 5) in the house, we prepare a special dish called “ellu bella”. Ellu bella is prepared by mixing roasted white ellu, roasted groundnuts(without skin), pottukadalai, kobburi pieces, colourful rice mittai, sakkarai achu and jaggery pieces. A small function called “borae hannu eriyana” is also performed. The child has to take oilbath and wear new dress. The child is seated on the manai decorated with rangoli. If the child hesitates to sit alone, he/she may sit on the lap of his/her mother on the manai. Garland using sarkarai achu, mittai, biscuits and borae hannu may be prepared and put on the neck of the child. In a plate take borae hannu(elandaipazam), biscuits, chocolates, small sugarcane pieces and coins. Take aarathi 3 times clockwise and 3 times anticlockwise and gently pour the things on the plate on the head of the child. Ellu bella is kept in small beautiful cups and given to other children, which is called as “Ellu bella birana”.
People fly kites on Makara sankaranthi day and in many places kite flying competition is organised in many parts of the country.
Next day is known as “Mattu Pongal” and it is a thanks giving day for the animals which work for us, throughout the year. Next day people visit riverbeds or beach with variety of fooditems and enjoy by playing games.
Happy Makara Sankaranthi.