Harvest Festivals of India

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    • India is popularly known as the land of festivals and on the 14th of January different parts of the country celebrate harvest festivals under different names.

    More about the Harvest Festivals of India

    • Lohri:
      • Significance:
        • Lohri, the popular North Indian festival, marks the end of the winter solstice and the beginning of longer days.
        • Lohri celebrates the harvest of rabi crop in North India
      • Time of celebration:
        • It is celebrated every year during the month of Paush, a day before Makar Sankranti – usually on January 13th.
      • Regions:
        • It is observed by both Hindus and Sikhs in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
    • Makar Sankranti:
      • About:
        • Makar Sankranti is the first Hindu festival that is celebrated with great pomp and enthusiasm across India and usually takes place in January. 
      • Significance:
        • It is a major harvest festival celebrated by Hindus across India but different states celebrate the festival under different names, traditions and festivities. 
        • Makar Sankranti marks the end of winter as well as the beginning of longer days on account of the sun’s northward journey. 
          • This period is also known as Uttarayan on this account and is considered to be very auspicious.
      • Different Names:
        • It is called Makara Sankranti and also Poush sôngkr?nti in Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Telangana.
        • It is called Sukarat in central India.
      • Kite Flying:
        • Another customary and popular practice associated with this festival is kite flying and in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, since 1989, the day has been observed as International Kite Festival. 
    • Magh Bihu:
      • Significance:
        • A significant Assamese festival, Magh Bihu marks the end of the harvesting season in the month of Magh (between January and February)
        • Also known as Maghor Bihu, it is celebrated to mark a slight shift in the earth’s rotational axis that brings in the end of chilly winters and the beginning of spring.
      • Characteristics:
        • This is one of the three Bihu celebrated by the community and the term Bhogali Bihu is derived from the word Bhog, which refers to eating and enjoyment.
        • The eve of the Bhogali Bihu is called the Uruka, the last day of the lunar month of Pousha. 
        • The festival is also marked by bonfires, made of green bamboo, firewood, hay, and dried banana leaves
      • Traditional games:
        • People also play traditional Assamese games like tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting. They also pray to ancestral gods for their blessings.
      • Delicacies:
        • People also make delicious rice cakes known by various names such as Sunga Pitha, Til Pith and coconut laddoos.
    • Pongal:
      • About:
        • One of India’s most well-known festivals, Pongal is widely observed by the Tamil population around the world
        • It is one of the biggest harvest festivals, along with Makar Sankranti.
      • Significance:
        • It is celebrated in the Tai month of the Tamil solar calendar. 
        • The four-day event, dedicated to the Sun God, marks the beginning of Uttarayan, the sun’s journey northward. 
        • Spread over four days, the festival begins with Bhogi Pongal which is followed by Surya Pongal, then Maattu Pongal, and Kanum Pongal. 
          • Each of the days has a unique significance with the second day being more most important day. 
      • The Sweet dish-Pongal:
        • This festival is named after the traditional sweet dish Pongal (“boiling over”) made with rice boiled in milk with jaggery.  
        • The origin of the Pongal dish can be traced back to the Chola period; it appears in a lot of texts and inscriptions. 
        • Some Hindu temple inscriptions from the Chola to Vijayanagara Empire periods are also known to include detailed recipes. 
      • Celebrations:
        • Celebrations also involve decorating cows, ritual bathing, making rice powder-based kolam artworks, offering prayers, and meeting friends and relatives. 

    Significance of the Harvest Festival

    • These festivals are primarily celebrated to mark the beginning of the harvesting season in the country and is probably the only one that is celebrated in every region of India, on the same day, but in different manners and names.
    • Sun’s northward journey: 
      • It is associated with the sun’s northward journey.
    • A Harvest festival is a celebration of the food grown on the land: 
      • Given the difference in climate and crops around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times at different places.
    • Harvest festivals in Asia: 
      • It includes the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the most widely spread harvest festivals in the world.

    Source: PIB