Lucknow: A festival that is devoted to Hindu deity Surya and holds spiritual significance, Makar Sankranti, Uttarayan, Maghi or simply Sankranti, is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of the country. Observed each year in the lunar month of Magha which corresponds with the month of January, Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights.
The historical and traditional significance of Makar Sankranti can be traced in the old scriptures where it is marked as the auspicious festival of bathing, charity and meditation. Hence, people take holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. The bathing and dips are believed to absolve one from their previous sins and result in merit. On this day, the Sun enters Uttarayan and enters Capricorn, thus, People also pray to the god sun and thank for their successes and prosperity.
Like all the other festivals, Sankranti too has its special dishes which are prepared specially to kick start the festivities. Popularly, people prepare laddus, gajak, revdi made with jaggery and sesame seeds (Til) and special khichdi on this day. Khichdi is offered to Lord Surya and sweets prepared from jaggery and til are distributed as prasad. Celebration of Sankranti can’t be completed without kites flown from nearly every terrace, garden and park.
Wondering how the tradition of eating khichdi on Makar Sankranti got its way into this festival? So let us tell you that behind this is the story of Baba Gorakhnath, who is believed to be incarnation of Lord Shiva. So, when the Sultan Khilji invaded Bharat (India), the Nath Yogis, who were at the war with Khilji, could not get time to cook food, thus, leaving Yogi’s hungry and weakened with each passing day. To solve this problem, Baba Gorakhnath advised to cook dal, rice and vegetables as one dish. Nath yogis liked this dish a lot and Baba Gorakhnath named this dish, Khichdi.
Khichdi is very nutritious and saves us a lot of time as it gets ready quickly. This also gives us instant energy. In Gorakhpur, a Khichdi fair is set up on this day, near the temple of Baba Gorakhnath, where Khichdi is offered as the prasad to Baba’s devotees.