Being brought up in cities ( Mumbai / Bangalore / Dubai ), the harvest festival meant a holiday, sleeping in late, yummy food and visitors who would drop by with packets of 'til' (sesame) and 'good' ( jaggery ).
The day on which the sun begins its journey northwards is referred to as Makara Sankranti. Sankramana means "to commence movement". It is about transition of Sun into Capricorn (Makara) on its celestial path.
Interestingly, this is the only festival in Hindu calendar that follows a solar calendar and is celebrated on the fourteenth of January every year (all other Hindu festivals are computed using the lunar calendar)
In Hindu belief, a person dying on this auspicious day directly goes to the heaven. Bhishma, an elder in the epic of Mahabharata, is said to have waited for this day to breathe his last. He had obtained a boon from his father Shantanu that enabled him to choose when he wanted to die.
The common practice in most villages is to do a thorough cleaning of the houses, decorate the cattle, buy new clothes and ornaments.
Hoping to do something similar, Keshav and I went shopping yesterday (ok, I confess, I just needed an excuse). We also spent some time cleaning our camera equipment which was dusty from the BRHills excursion.
In light of the festival, I have also decided to harvest my small crop of coriander that I'm growing on our terrace. :D
As I write this post, there is a gentle drizzle outside, and this, after I just watered the plants!