January 14th is Sankranti, and here are some pages from Arpan Cooperative’s scrapbook commemorating a recent Sankranti. It reads:
The Festival of Makar Sankrant traditionally coincides with the beginning of the Sun’s northward journey (the UTTARYAN) when it enters the sign of Makar (the CAPRICORN). It falls on the 14th of January every year according to the Solar Calendar. This day has a very special significance because the day and night on Makar Sankrant are of exactly equal hours. This day is celebrated as a festival right from the times of the Aryans and is looked upon as the most auspicious day by the Hindus.
The evidence of this festival being lucky is found in our great epic Mahabharat wherein it is told that the great warrior-hero, Bhishma Pitamaha even after being wounded and lying on the bed of arrows, lingered on till Uttarayan set in, to breathe his last. It is believed that the person who dies on this auspicious day of Sankrant escapes the cycle of birth and re-birth and that his soul migles with the almighty.
This festival is celebrated differently in different parts of the country yet the use of til that is sesame is found everywhere. Til or sesame seed contain a lot of oil and they therefore have a quality of softness in them. Therefore, firstly the use of til in sweets is good for health and secondly being soft their exchange means exchange of love and tender feelings.
In Maharashtra on the Sankranti day people exchange multi-colored tilguds made from til (sesame seeds) and sugar and til-laddues made from til and jaggery. Til-polis are offered for lunch and these are specialities of Maharashtra. Maharashtrian women are proud of their excellence in preparing these delicacies. While exchanging tilguls as tokens of goodwill people greet each other saying- “til-gul ghya, god god bola” meaning “accept these tilguls and speak sweet words”. The under-lying thought in the exchange of tilgulds is to forgoet the past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends. This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called “Haldi-Kumkoo” and given gifts of any utensil, which the woman of the house purchases on that day.
The sky is ablaze with colorful kites in this season.
Here are some photos from the Arpan cooperative scrapbook and a sewn page from the scrapbook: