Makara Sankranti / Pongal is a day that marks the northward traverse of Sun and a festival that celebrates the new harvest of the year. The festival of Sankranti in South India lasts for 4 days.
First day of the festival (Bhogi) is revered mainly in the South Indian states of Andhra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. It is observed as a sacrificial day also with the rituals to keep the family from evil eyes. Snacks and sweets are made to get to a celebrative mood.
Second day is the main Makara Sankranti festival which is observed with new clothes, traditional food, snacks, community rangoli, and praying to God with offerings of winter harvest. Makara Jyothi is the symbol of festivity in Kerala, whereas Sankranti marks the start of New Year in Tamil Nadu; it is celebrated with various Pongal recipes cooked in earthen pots in much of South India. Customs like visiting the closest of kin with ellu-bella, ellu unde, sugarcane, banana, sugar candy moulds, and other auspicious gifts are exchanged in Karnataka; where as in parts of Andhra and Telangana, the festive food is offered to departed ancestors of the family.
Third day of festival (Maattu Pongal or Kanuma) in Tamil Nadu and Andhra is dedicated to thanksgiving for cattle and farm-animals. They do it by decorating the cattle with glitters, paper etc and allowing them to roam free. Cows and oxen are also fed with pongal, jaggery and rice, and sugarcane. Karnataka follows the tradition of crossing fire where the oxen are made to jump over a heap of coal or fire to traditionally get rid of any hoof related diseases.
Fourth day of the festival is a day to meet your relatives and exchange snacks which is a practice in Andhra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. This is also the day where the kite festival is held in most parts with handmade kites and Indian drinks and sweets to oomph up the celebrations. The non vegetarian dishes are prepared on this day. Sports like cok fighting, bull racing are also popularly held in villages.
To celebrate this traditional farmer's harvest festival with all the zeal, here are the handpicked recipes of festive snacks, main course and dessert recipes that are exclusively made on Makara Sankranti.