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Celebrating Makar Sankranti Around the World: 8 Different Countries and Their Unique Traditions


Makar Sankranti is celebrated around the world with great enthusiasm and joy. It is a harvest festival celebrated in many countries, with various customs and traditions. From flying kites in India and exchanging gifts in Thailand to eating sweet treats in Nepal and burning effigies in Pakistan, each celebration is unique to the people's culture and beliefs. In this article, we'll explore eight different countries and their rituals surrounding Makar Sankranti to glimpse how people worldwide observe this special day.

India: Flying kites and offering prayers

In India, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Uttarayan, the "movement of the new." Uttarayan is an ancient festival that originated during the time of the Mahabharata and is traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the winter solstice. On this day, people of northern and western India fly kites, eat sweets, and offer prayers to the sun, thanking it for its warmth and light. Flying kites is a tradition that dates back thousands of years in India. In the past, kites were made from wood, paper, and cow-string. Nowadays, kites are made from plastic and bamboo threads and come in every color, shape, and size imaginable. On Uttarayan, people often fly giant kites in the form of birds, animals, or even famous personalities. People often compete to see whose kite flies the highest, and kite-flying competitions are held in many places.

Nepal: Eating sweets and celebrating with music

In Nepal, Makar Sankranti is known as Cheti Chand and is celebrated on the 14th day of the winter solstice. People celebrate Cheti Chand by playing music, eating sweets, and worshipping the sun. In Nepal, Makar Sankranti is also a festival of love, observed by young couples who exchange gifts, visit temples together, and write poetry to each other. Cheti Chand is also a festival for children who are given sweets and gifts. It is believed that if you eat sweets on this day, you will have good luck for the rest of the year. Cheti Chand is also a time for families to gather and enjoy each other's company. Many people will go to temples to worship the sun and offer water, food, and flowers.

Pakistan: Burning effigies and celebrating with bonfires

In Pakistan, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Chet Fida, or the "15th of Chet," which corresponds to the winter solstice. This is one of the biggest festivals in Pakistan and is celebrated with music, bonfires, and burning effigies of different animals. It is believed that if you burn an image, you will release all your bad luck and replace it with good fortune for the coming year. Chet Fida is celebrated with family and friends, with people enjoying each other's company, eating traditional foods, and listening to folk songs and music. A popular tradition of Makar Sankranti in Pakistan is the burning of an effigy. People will build an effigy of a black sheep or black goat, or a man and burn it in a bonfire on the street.

Thailand: Exchange of gifts and family gatherings

In Thailand, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Wan Phra, the "lord of the waxing moon." This harvest festival is celebrated by giving thanks for the earth's bounty and praying for an abundant harvest in the future. People gather with family and friends to exchange gifts, visit temples, and enjoy traditional foods, like sticky rice and sesame seed candy. On Wan Phra, people also release sea turtles, as turtles symbolize longevity and represent the Makar Sankranti celebration.

Bangladesh: Celebrating with wrestling

In Bangladesh, Makar Sankranti is known as Poush Sankrant and is celebrated on the 14th day of the winter solstice. Poush Sankrant is a harvest festival celebrated by people of all religions, including Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians. People gather to watch wrestling matches on this day and eat a special celebratory dish of push porridge. Poush porridge is made with rice, milk, spices, and sweeteners and eaten with a special sweet sauce called peshti. Wrestling has been a tradition in Bangladesh since the 16th century when the Mughal Empire ruled the country. Over time, wrestling has become a form of artistic expression and cultural celebration.

Malaysia: Making kites and enjoying folk songs

In Malaysia, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Chinese New Year and Malay New Year on the 14th day of the winter solstice. This harvest festival is celebrated by Chinese and Malay people with the making of kites and enjoying folk songs. People make kites out of bamboo and paper and fly them up in the air. Some kites are designed to fly high in the sky, while others are designed to fly low and dip in the water. Families often make kites and fly them in large celebrations on the beach or in parks. During Makar Sankranti, people also gather to sing folk songs that tell stories about life in Malaysia and invite people to join in and enjoy the festivities. As the country is made up of many different cultures, there is a wide variety of folk songs to choose from.

Mauritius: Celebrating with music and dancing

In Mauritius, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Poushi, or Poushi Baha, on the 14th day of the winter solstice. This is a harvest festival celebrated with music, dancing, and eating special foods. On Poushi, people gather in groups and enjoy singing folk songs and traditional music while eating sweet treats like pink Pie, a sweet and spicy pie full of coconut, honey, and spices. People also visit temples and make offerings to the gods, thanking them for a successful harvest. It is believed that the more you celebrate Poushi, the more abundant your crops will grow in the coming year.

Fiji: Celebrating with traditional ceremonies

In Fiji, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Vakar Suggi on the 14th day of the winter solstice. This harvest festival is celebrated with traditional ceremonies and eating rice and sweet treats. On Vakar Suggi, people gather to participate in special ceremonies, which include making offerings to the gods and regulating the water supply. The water regulation ceremony is a ritual practiced in Fiji since ancient times. It is used to control the water supply and prevent droughts. Traditional celebrations on Vakar Suggi include flying kites and eating a special rice dish, coconut, and sesame seeds


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Conclusion

Makar Sankranti is celebrated by many as the first day of spring. Celebrated by people around the world, this festival is a harvest festival that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. As with many other harvest festivals, this one is celebrated by giving thanks for the earth's bounty and praying for an abundant harvest in the future. Celebrations vary from place to place, but most involve giving thanks to the sun and the earth and enjoying traditional food and music with family and friends.


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