Makara Sankranti is the biggest festival for Hindus. This is the only festival celebrated based upon solar calendar, on the day of transition of Sun from Sagittarius (Danus raasi) zodiac sign to Capricorn (Makara raasi).
Each state in India celebrates with different names, Makara Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Pongal in Tamilnadu, Lohri in Punjab, Bihu in Assam. Sankranti is one of the big festival in Andhra Pradesh, where in it is colloquially called “pedda pandaga”. This is a four day festival of Bhogi, Makara Sankranti, Kanuma and Mukkanuma.
Not only as a child, but as an adult I have sweet memories attached to this festival. The whole month of Dhanur maasam early in the morning, I happened to attend Nagara Sankeerthanams. This means all the elders in the neighborhood gather and go around the streets singing the Lords names, praising the Lord with bhajans and reach the temple by dawn and attend the puja and take the aarathi and prasadam. In spite of cold weather covering my head, I used to attend some days of that month. Later in the night all the ladies and girls used to arrive in the front yard, prepare the ground by sprinkling water and make rangoli (muggu) with dots, lines and colors. We used to visit our friend’s house to view and appreciate their rangoli work. While making rangoli with dots was easy, I had to learn line drawing forms from my mom. She is expert in that and does without any difficulty. Rangoli powder is to be taken in the palm, close the fist and release rangoli powder slowly creating a small gaps between point finger and middle finger and ring finger and small finger. You can create millions of designs on the ground. I truly appreciate how swiftly my mom and grandma used to make designs. Gobbemalu, is a form of deity where in all the girls used to gather around the gobbemalu centered in the rangoli. We used to sing and dance around the rangoli. It was fun dancing and enjoyed the meaning of the lyrics. Bommala koluvu was not common in our house, but I used to gather all the dolls I had and used to arrange in a place myself and invited my friends to see the display.
As I grew up rangoli and other activities vanished due the city where we were in and our daily routine did not accommodate with higher studies. Also I moved out of the house for a job. As an adult, this festival has affiliation to my job and marriage. I received my job offer letter around this festival season. Couple of years later, I came home for the festival which happened to be an extended long weekend. That is when my mom brought in the conversation of a marriage alliance which my parents were looking for me. My parents like the family, the groom (now my husband for the last two and half decades), his job etc. So my mom asked me that the groom’s family was ready to come for “pelli chupulu” (girl and boy meet with relatives on both sides). As Pushya maasam is not a good month for auspicious function, it was arranged for a later day. All went well, happily married with my husband. Now it is history. After marriage, Sankranti is the big festival or “peddda pandaga” to invite the in-laws and their family members to the bride’s house. My husband and I from went home from a remote city where we used to work, and my husband’s family members came to our house that was in a different city. Our house was in festive mood, my mother with the help of my grandmother and aunt made all the arrangements by preparing variety of sweets, to name a few, thokkudu laddu, bobbatlu, karappusa, aresalu were among them. My parents brought new dress, sarees to each one of us and relatives. Kanuma, the third day of the festival we all had/have to take head bath. There is a saying that even a crow takes bath on this day. Normally it is not a good a day to start a journey, so all of us slowly came out of the festive mood and traveled back to our destination with all the memories on Mukkanuma. I wish to have much more great memories for my future. We all hope that Sankranti will usher good fortunes in our lives.