Makar Sankranti, dedicated to the sun god Surya, is celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm for success and prosperity in Goa and across the country on January 14. It is one of the festivals that follow the solar calendar instead of the usual lunar calendar. The celebrations consists of performing different rituals, more important among them is the Haldi Kumkum ceremony. Some parts of India also see Sankranti accompanied with the kite festival and have community kite-flying competitions. In the south, it is celebrated as Pongal, a 4-day festival
FR APOLLOCARDOZO S.J
Accordingto Mahabharata legend, it is believed that the great warrior of theMahabharata, Bhishma, who fell to the arrows of his brother, Arjuna, on theKurukshetra battlefield, chose this day to leave his mortal self. Hence, it isbelieved that those who die during this period attain moksha and not haverebirth.
As perthe legend, Shiva’s bull Nandi delivered a wrong message to the earth. Themessage was to have an oil bath everyday and food once a month. However, poorNandi got confused with the message and told worshippers that Lord Shiva hadasked them to have an oil bath once a month, and food every day. When Shivalearnt of this, he was enraged and ordered Nandi to stay back on earth and helpthe poor farmers to plough the fields, since they would now need to producemore grains to be able to eat every day.
Peopleperform puja in the morning to bless the house and the family god is offered a nivedya(offering) of rice, channa dal, jaggery and coconut. A lamp is lit in themiddle of the Donno containing the nivedya, which after presenting to thedeity, is taken around and shown at all the corners of the house.
Thepurpose of this is to remove all evil, which uses corners as its spot. A legendsays that Lakshmi’s wicked sister, Avdissa, comes from the backdoor and in thedark settles down at the corners. The Donno of the deity and the one taken tothe corners are then thrown in the rivulet.
Beingmid-winter, food prepared is meant to keep the body warm and give energy, henceladdoos of til and jaggery are preferred. Tilgul distributed on this occasionis made of sugar coated gram, which is made colourful with different colours,such as red, green and yellow. ‘tilgul gya, goad goad bola’, people greet eachother in these words.
Marriedwomen perform the Haldi Kumkum ceremony on this day. They don new clothes andjewellery and invite other married women to their homes.
Theyexchange gifts in the form of household articles or even grocery items. This isaccompanied by serving tilgul and sesame laddoos.
The HaldiKumkum ritual is even a bigger when it comes to newly married women. They haveto perform a special puja, wherein the parents of the girl send all the itemsneeded for it as a gift. These include pan and supari (betel leaf and nut),pinjar (container for kukum), haldi, coconut, munnio (5 gold beads), piddikio(black plastic tiny beads used to make mangalsutra), tilgul (tiny sugar balls),grams, nauvari kapad (9 yard sari) and flowers. The gold pearls, one each isgiven to the deity at her home and one at her mothers’ home. The other threeare given, one each to a very close relative.
The newbride had to distribute certain items to the other ladies in the first year,which include budkullo (a clay pot used to cook rice/fill water) and half acoconut. The outside of the budkullo is tied with five types of thread to which5 piddukio are added.
In the buddkullo,five types of cereals are put: wheat, mung (green lentil), paddy, til, ragi.The cereals are selected to show the fertility as these can be grown aftersprouting them.
In thefollowing year, the bride gives a kukum container and in the subsequent years,bangles, mirror and comb. In the following years, any item can be distributed.
(The writer is former director of Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr at Porvorim)