Makara Sankranthi or Pongal, as it is known as in the south, is celebrated to mark the beginning of the harvest season. Another reason why this festival is held is because the sun enters the Capricorn. People believe that the first rays of the Sun on the day of Sankranthi will bring them a good harvest. It is also celebrated to mark the change of seasons from winter to spring.
People celebrate this festival by wearing new clothes and by visiting everybody's homes. It is a tradition to distribute jaggery during this time. This festival is mostly celebrated by the women and girls as they gift jaggery to their relatives and friends and wish them a bright future. They exchange sugar cane and turmeric powder as part of tradition.
Sankranthi is celebrated at the start of the new year in the month of January. Every year the festival is held on the 14th or the 15th of January. The main harvest in this season is daals (pulses of all types), pumpkins and many types of beans. Pooja's (sacred rites) are performed to please the Gods of Harvests and Goodwill. The cows in India are sacred and as cows have always been a part of agriculture and farming since the beginning of civilization. On Sankranthi they are worshipped by decorating them and also by feeding them sweets. On this day people pray to the Lord to let the rays of the sun bring them good luck.
Added by reck on September 20, 2005