Celebrated throughout the nation as the harvest festival, Makarsankranti is one of the most renowned festivals of India. This is observed in almost all parts of India, though it is represented and observed in different manners. The date of this cultural festival however, is quite unique as it falls on 14th of January, every year. It is an auspicious Hindu festival, which takes place during the peak time of the winter season.
'Towards light and away from the darkness' is signified by this winter Hindu festival. It is believed that Sun-God enters into the Northern Hemisphere, giving way to more lengthy days and shorter span of darkness. Sun-God is the main deity of this festival. This Hindu God is related to wisdom, spiritual brightness and knowledge. Makarsankranti also has a moral significance that talks about one's journey towards light, wisdom, intelligence and purity. Just like the Sun grows or rather the length of the day grows from the Makarsankranti day, the festival also motivates to ascend towards light or wisdom from darkness or ignorance.
Makarsankranti is celebrated from Northern part of India to Southern part of India and from Eastern to Western India. On this day people from far and wide visit the famous Ganga Sagar to take a dip and free them from all sins. Ganga Sagar is the place where the Bay of Bengal meets the Ganga River. They also visit Prayag and pay their respect to the Sun-God on this day. Early morning before the sunrises, devotees gather at the river-side to catch the first glimpse of the rising sun. They take bath during this time and pray to the deity. Traditional delicacies like Til laddo, too are a part of the Makarsankranti celebrations. Throughout the nation various cattle fairs and other festival specific fairs are held on Makarsankranti.
The festival is called with different names in various regions of India. In Goa it is called, 'haldi-kumkum', 'Bhogali Bihu' in Assam, 'Pedda Panduga' in Andhra Pradesh,' Uttarayan' and 'Vasi-Uttarayan' in Gujarat and 'Suggi' in Karnataka. In Uttar Pradesh however, Makarsankrnti is a grand affair as more than 2 million people gather at Varanasi, Allahabad and Haridwar to observe the day.