Makar Sankranti

Explore Makar Sankranti cultural richness and significance.

Discover the joy of Makar Sankranti, the Indian harvest festival celebrated with kite flying, bonfires, and sweet treats. 

Makar Sankranti, known by various names across different Indian regions, is a major harvest festival celebrated annually on January 14th. It marks the sun’s transit into Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path, signifying the end of winter and the start of longer days. This festival is observed with social festivities such as colorful decorations, rural children going house to house, singing and asking for treats, melas (fairs), dances, kite flying, bonfires, and feasts. The significance of Makar Sankranti lies in its astronomical importance and its celebration of life and a bountiful harvest. It is a day of goodwill and friendship, characterized by the distribution of sweets made from sesame seeds and jaggery, symbolizing the need to be as sweet to other individuals. Each region has its unique customs and rituals associated with Makar Sankranti, making it a diverse and culturally rich celebration.

Main Traditions of Makar Sankranti

Kite Flying

Kite flying is a hallmark tradition of Makar Sankranti, especially prominent in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Enthusiasts and communities gather to fly kites of various colors and sizes, symbolizing the spirit of freedom, joy, and the vibrancy of life. The skies become a mosaic of colors, with competitions held to cut the strings of opponents’ kites.

Bonfires and Feasts

Bonfires are lit on the eve of Makar Sankranti as a symbol of the end of winter and the warmth of the coming seasons. Families and communities come together to cook and share meals, especially dishes made of sesame seeds and jaggery, signifying warmth and sweetness in relationships.

Holy Dips

Taking a holy dip in rivers, especially the Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri, is considered auspicious on Makar Sankranti. It is believed to cleanse the soul and bring about purification and salvation.

Sesame Sweets

Making and sharing sweets, particularly those made from sesame seeds (til) and jaggery (gur), such as tilgul laddoo, is a key tradition. These sweets are exchanged with the greeting, “Tilgul ghya ani gud gud bola,” encouraging people to speak sweetly and forget past grievances.

Livestock Fairs

In many parts of India, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with livestock fairs, where cattle are decorated and displayed. These fairs are not only a celebration of the harvest but also crucial for the agricultural economy, facilitating the trade of animals.

Rangoli Making

Creating rangoli, intricate designs made on the ground using colored powders, flowers, and rice, is a common practice. These artworks are made at the entrance of homes to welcome guests and the gods, believed to bring good luck.

Pongal Preparation

In Tamil Nadu, the festival is known as Pongal, after the dish made to celebrate the occasion. It is a sweet rice dish boiled with fresh milk and jaggery, often embellished with cardamom, raisins, and cashews.

Makaravilakku Festival

In Kerala, the Sabarimala Temple hosts the Makaravilakku festival, attracting millions of pilgrims. The sighting of the Makaravilakku, a celestial light on the horizon, is a spiritual highlight.

Bhogi Festival

The first day of the four-day Sankranti celebrations is known as Bhogi, where people discard old belongings and focus on new beginnings, symbolizing change and transformation.

Community Meals

Community meals are a significant aspect of Makar Sankranti, where people gather to share food prepared from the new harvest, reinforcing community bonds and gratitude for the season’s bounty.

Best Movies Set During Makar Sankranti

Patang (2012)

Directed by Prashant Bhargava, “Patang” is a poignant narrative set against the vibrant backdrop of the kite flying festival in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The story revolves around a family reunion that unfolds during Makar Sankranti, featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Seema Biswas. It beautifully captures the essence of the festival and the dynamics of familial relationships.

Best Cakes, Cookies, and Sweets for Makar Sankranti

Tilgul Ladoo

Tilgul ladoos are sweet balls made from sesame seeds and jaggery, embodying the spirit of Makar Sankranti. These sweets symbolize peace and goodwill, and are shared among friends and family with wishes for a sweet and prosperous year ahead.

Puran Poli

Puran Poli is a traditional Indian sweet flatbread filled with a mixture of jaggery and gram flour, flavored with cardamom and nutmeg. It is particularly popular in Maharashtra during Makar Sankranti, representing the blend of sweetness and richness in life.


Pongal, a sweet rice dish cooked with milk, jaggery, cardamom, and cashews, is not just a namesake dish but a staple sweet during the Tamil festival of Pongal. This dish is a symbol of abundance and prosperity, celebrating the season’s harvest.


Gajak is a crunchy sweet made of sesame seeds and jaggery, shaped into thin rolls or sheets. It is widely consumed during Makar Sankranti in North India, known for its warmth-giving properties during the cold season.


Rice kheer, a creamy rice pudding made with milk, rice, sugar, and cardamom, often garnished with nuts, is a favored dessert during Makar Sankranti. It signifies the harvest’s end and the beginning of a new season.

Sakkarai Pongal

Sakkarai Pongal is the sweet version of Pongal, made using rice, mung beans, jaggery, and milk, garnished with ghee, cashews, and raisins. It’s a traditional dish in Tamil Nadu, celebrating the harvest festival.


Rewri is another sweet delicacy made from sesame seeds coated with jaggery or sugar. This confectionery is a Makar Sankranti staple, relished for its sweet, crunchy texture.


Chikki is a traditional Indian sweet made from jaggery and groundnuts or sesame seeds, offering a perfect crunch for Makar Sankranti. It’s a popular snack symbolizing the sweetness of life.


While not a sweet, Khichdi is an essential dish served during Makar Sankranti, especially in the northern parts of India. Made from rice and lentils, it is consumed to mark the beginning of the harvest season, often accompanied by dollops of ghee.


In South India, Murukku, a crunchy, savoury snack made from rice flour and urad dal flour, is often prepared during the Pongal festival. Though not a sweet, it complements the festive array of sugary delights.

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