Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sankranthi in Karnataka – Kannada Makara Sankranti

Sankranthi, or Makara Sankranti, is a harvest festival in Karnataka as is the case in other parts of India.  Sankranthi is celebrated when sun transcends from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. Sankranthi means ‘change of direction’ and is based on solar event and it also marks the arrival of Spring Season. In Kannada culture, Sankranthi is synonymous with ellu (sesame-jaggery mix), sugar candies and sugarcane.

Uttarayana, the day time of Devas, begins from Sankranthi and the next six months are considered highly auspicious. There are also numerous other legends that are associated with Sankranthi.

The day before the festival all the houses are thoroughly cleaned. And on the day of Sankranti, green mango leaves are used to decorate doors and windows and the thresholds of houses and colorful rangoli is drawn on the doorsteps. People also fly kites on the day.

Talk about Sankranthi and the first things that a Kannadiga would remember is sugarcane. Stacks of sugarcane sticks piled up in the market herald the arrival of the Sankranti festival. Shredding the sugarcane with teeth and munching the juice off it is a major activity on the day.

People also exchange yellu – a mixture of fried sesame, peanuts and gram with jaggery and copra. People visit relatives, friends and neighbors on the day and exchange yellu balla. The festive feast includes rice and moong dal kichdi (both sweet and salt), curries with freshly harvested field beans, sweet potato, sweet pumpkin, etc. The list increases as one travels to rural Karnataka.

Numerous music and dance festival are also held during the period.

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