Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious occasions for the Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion, fervor and gaiety. It is a harvest festival. Unlike most of the other Indian Hindu Festivals, the date of Makar Sankranti is fixed. It always falls on the same day every year on the 14th of January (with just a few exceptions when it is celebrated either on 13th or 15th of January). Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti is transition. There is a sankranti every month when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next. To Hindus, the Sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makar Sankranti signifies that we should turn away from the darkness of delusion in which we live, and begin to enjoy a new life with bright light within us to shine brighter and brighter; even as the Sun does from the Day of Makar Sankranti.
The festival of Makar Sankranti is highly regarded by the Hindus from North to down South. Every region celebrates it in innumerable ways, according to the localization, culture and traditions. The day is known by various names and a variety of traditions are witnessed as one explores the festival in different states.
Makar Sankranti is also known as Uttarayan or Festival of Kites in Gujarat and Rajasthan. This is a full kite-flying day; colorful kites in the sky convert Sankranti into the beautiful colors of kites. The International Kite festival is held at Ahmedabad on January 14 of every year. Kite festival is one of the most popular festivals of Jaipur “The Pink City” Rajasthan.
In south India it’s known as Pongal “The National festival of India”, in Karnataka it’s called Sankranti and in Kerala it’s called Makara Vilakku.
In Bengal, Makar Sankranti is celebrated at the last day of the Bengali month of Poush; as a harvest festival ‘Poush Parbon’. The freshly harvested paddy along with the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur (liquid date or palm jaggerry) and Patali (solid jaggerry ) is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and 'khejurer gur' (date palm jaggery) and known as 'Pithey'. All sections of society participate in a three-day begins on the day before Sankranti and ends on the day after.
During the Makar Sankranti festival, so many mela or fairs held’s in different region’s of India; the most famous being the Kumbha Mela, held every 12 years at one of four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. The Magha Mela (or mini-Kumbh Mela) held annually at Prayag. A biggest fair held at Ganga Sagar in west Bengal, where the most scared river “Ganga” enters the sea, thousands of pilgrims and Sadhu the holy men come here for the holy bath on the day of Makar Sankranti.
The bullock festival, cattle fair held on Makar Sankranti at different places, where many camels, bullocks and horses are sold and purchased by animal lover people. Makara Mela in Odisha and Tusu Mela, also called as Tusu Porab is celebrated in many parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal.