SIGNIFICANCE OF THESE FESTIVITIES
These harvest time festivities mark the end of Winter Solstice and are symbolic of the beginning of a new season of warm sunny days. It signifies the removal of all negativity from life and brings in prosperity and abundance. The celebrations during this time are a tribute offered to thank Almighty for the abundant blessings bestowed upon us.
It is a time dedicated predominantly to worshipping Sun God in various forms. On this auspicious day, the sun begins to move North ward and astrologically transitions into the zodiac sign of Capricorn or Makar which marks the end of winter and beginning of longer days.
OBSERVANCES ON LOHRI
Lohri is a festival associated directly with the sun, earth and fire. Sun represents the life element, earth represents food and fire maintains health. All these elements are granted to us by the Supreme Almighty.
Celebrated annually on 13th January, Bonfire, Singing, and Dancing in joy for all that we receive are the major observances of Lohri.
A Bonfire is lit with the belief that its flames transmit our prayers to Sun God so that he blesses the earth with it’s golden rays and warmth to end the cold and gloom to foster growth and abundance.
People dress in bright colourful clothes and dance in an orbit around the rising flames of the bonfire. Sweets made of jaggery, sesame seeds, peanuts, popcorn, puffed rice, etc are offered as food to the fire. These sweet treats are fed to the fire to seek blessings from the God of Fire or Agni to end all evil and infuse positivity, prosperity and purity in the atmosphere and minds of all.
OBSERVANCES ON MAKAR SANKRANTI
Makar Sankranti is celebrated on 14th January every year, a day following the festival of Lohri.
On this day, devotees take a holy dip in holy rivers in India with the belief that this washes away their sins. The holy dip is considered spiritually uplifting and ushers in peace and prosperity.
Sweet treats of sesame, jaggery, puff rice etc. are distributed on this day to foster a bond of peace and harmony.
OBSERVANCES ON PONGAL
The festival’s most significant practice is the preparation of the traditional “pongal” dish. The festival gets it’s name from this practice. “Pongal”, means “to boil, overflow”. The dish is prepared using freshly harvested rice, and boiling it in milk and raw cane sugar (jaggery) with the add-ons of dry fruits and coconut.
Celebrated to thank the Sun God and Lord Indra for helping farmers in getting better-yielding crops, this harvest festival is traditionally celebrated for four continuous days starting 13th January.
To mark the festival, the pongal sweet dish is prepared, first offered to the gods and goddesses (goddess Pongal), followed sometimes with an offering to cows, and then shared by the family. Festive celebrations include decorating cows, ritual bathing and processions. It is traditionally an occasion for decorating with rice-powder artworks, offering prayers at home, temples, getting together with family and friends, and exchanging gifts to renew social bonds of solidarity.
CELEBRATING GIVING & SHARING
Celebrating and honouring the Divine energies through singing, dancing and feasting is a beautiful Thanksgiving for all the wonderful things that we receive all year round. Also meritorious deeds or donations during this period are considered fruitful.
Every opportunity to honour the Energies of Light is an opportunity to Open the Light Within us. The more we give and share, the more we tend to receive!