In India, it is rightly said, there are Saat Din Aur Nau Tauhar (seven days and nine festivals). Udaipur, a happening place, is no exception. Makar Sankranti (Also known as Uttarayan) is a big festival in Lake City. According to astrologists, while rotating the sun enters different ‘rashis’ on Makar Sankranti, it leaves Dhanu Rashi and enters Makar Rashi. That is why it is called Makar Sankranti. The winter begins to become less severe. There are other reasons for this celebration.
It is believed that on this day Lord Vishnu killed all the demons and the battle between the gods and demons ended. During Mahabharat, Bhishma Pitamah decided to leave his body. This was the day on which river Ganga came down on the earth. The new harvest is offered to the gods. Lord Surya himself went to his son Shani’s house. There is a tension between the two. To escape the ill effects we are advised to bathe in holy waters, perform religious rites give alms.
It is interesting to learn that while rotating on its axis, the earth lags behind every year so Makar Sankranti is shifted by one day in 80 years. According to an encyclopedia, it used to come on Christmas day 1700 years ago. It fell on 12th January when Vivekanand was born, during Akbar’s reign it came on 10th January.
People visit their relatives and friends and share special dishes such as porridge made with the new crop of grain and milk. The mood is one of merriment. Cattle are fed with green grass as part of charity and alms are given to beggars who gather in large numbers not only outside temples but also move around in different localities of the city.
The temples and the town are thronged with devotees after an early bath in water bodies like Pichola, they go to temples with offerings. In Jagdish Mandir, there is ‘Panchamrit Snan’ in the morning. The idol is dressed in velvet clothes. The Lord is offered ‘Kichdi’, ‘Halwa’, ‘Kesaria Bhat’, etc. Bhajans are sung. In Srinathji Ki Haveli, the idol is clad in gorgeous attire. The Lord is offered a bull and play items. Recipes made with ‘til’ are offered to the Lord in Asthal Mandir.
In streets and open places, children and even some elderly are seen playing ‘Satolia’ and ‘Mardari’. But these traditional games are being gradually replaced by cricket.
Kite flying in Udaipur used to be limited to Nirmala Ekadashi, but now it has become very popular also on Makar Sankranti. Maybe it is so due to the influence of a large number of Gujaratis who have settled in Lake City. Due to this craze over 15,000 kites are procured every year. The kites liked most by children are those of Motu Patlu, Spiderman, Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse, Chhota Bheem, Pogo, and Bahubali. Also popular are kites of film stars such as Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, and Salman Khan. So also those of political leaders like Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. For those who do not like plastic kites, the ones made with cloth are also on offer.
Makar Sankranti that has become a big festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Lake City.