Happy Makar Sankranti
Makar Sankranti is a harvest festival celebration across India! It marks the northward journey of the sun, or the transition of the sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn. While the traditional Indian Calendar is based on lunar positions, Sankranti is a solar event so the date of the festival is always same, January 14th.
“Makar Sankranti is the day when the glorious Sun-God of Hindus begins its ascendancy and entry into the Northern Hemisphere. Sun for the Hindus stands for Pratyaksha-Brahman – the manifest God, who symbolizes, the one, non-dual, self-effulgent, glorious divinity blessing one & all tirelessly. Sun is the one who transcends time and also the one who rotates the proverbial Wheel of Time. The famous Gayatri Mantra, which is chanted everyday by every faithful Hindu, is directed to Sun God to bless them with intelligence & wisdom. Sun not only represents God but also stands for an embodiment of knowledge & wisdom.” http://www.vmission.org.in/hinduism/festivals/sankranti/
An aspect of Hindu festivals is making rangoli. Rangoli are decorative designs made on the floors of entryways or living rooms. They are meant to welcome the Hindu deities and it is thought to bring good luck.
The designs are typically made out of colored rice flours but sand and flower petals and are also sometimes used. With materials provided by Mr. Das, we got to creating our own rangoli in Tagore! Traditionally one would chalk out the design in white and then fill in the colors. Chalk didn’t work well on our clean and shiny floors but it turned out pretty well!
Later that afternoon while driving to Necklace Road we saw real rangoli outside homes. They were perfectly painted on the sidewalk outside driveways in different colors and designs.
The trainride, once again, was a hightlight of the afternoon. Families were on top of their homes, abandoned buildings, and fields to fly their kites. Two boys tried to untangle their kites from the rail wires. Another set of boys hooted and hollered off their rooftop and they tried to take each other down. Finally we arrived at Necklace Road. Necklace Road is the street surrounding Sugar Hussain Lake. Families were all over the place, flying their kites and picnicking on the grass. As we walked the path around the lake it felt like a carnival. Those selling kites and string had replaced all of the normal merchandise stands. The kites are simple, made of tissue paper of every color and small sticks.
Soon we arrived at one of the parking grounds. The graveled area was packed with parked cars and kite flyers. This was the competitive space. As we traveled across the space we encountered a mess of kite strings and staring eyes. It was like a kite jungle, but we survived!
Oh and guess what, all you Midwesterners…I found corn on the cob! Haha! Here they place the corn cob on hot coals until slightly charred then rub it with lemon or spices. Though it was not Nebraska sweet corn it was smokey and slightly crunchy- yum
Continuing our celebration, we headed over to Chili’s, yes Chili’s for happy hour. It was so weird to be in an “American” setting but great to relax and reflect on the day.
Happy Makar Sankranti!