When I think of Makar Sankranti, the instant image in my mind is that of a colourful sky, packed terraces and rooftops, a breezy day and childlike faces screaming ‘kai po che’! Yes we all remember Makar Sankranti as the kite flying day but very few know that this festival came about due to several intriguing well-being truths.
‘Makar Sankranti’ is known as ‘lohri’ in the north, ‘pongal’ in the south, ‘uttarayan’ in Gujarat, ‘bhogali bihu’ in Assam and ‘til sankranti’ in Bihar – all over India, this joyous occasion is celebrated as the winter harvest festival. The gorgeous sun enters the Capricorn, marking the beginning of longer days and so we dedicate this festival to Lord Surya and all the goodness it brings with it.
#1: Fresh and new crops:
Til (sesame), gur (jaggery), ganna (sugarcane), matar (peas), jau (barley), gehoon (wheat), sarason (mustard) to name a few are some of the fresh crops harvested during this time.
As I got deeper into well-being inside out, I realized how nourishing it can be when we have seasonal food. Seasonal food will have higher nutrition value, less contamination, will taste much better since its fresh and it will give our body what it needs exactly in that season! I believe universe puts everything where it is best suited and that applies with wholesome, seasonal food as well.
It comes as no surprise that this festival is celebrated around the harvest as in the olden times people waited for this occasion to get a new set of crops and prepare delicious dishes!
Some healthy preparations during this time can be:
- Til ka ladoo: A combination of sesame seeds, jaggery and peanuts that taste great, made of natural sugar and also keeps our body warm. All these 3 ingredients are harvested fresh in Makar Sankranti.
- Puran Poli: it’s a sweet flat bread prepared with chana dal filling and sweetened by jaggery (gur). A filling combination that doesn’t leave us feeling guilty.
- Sarason ka saag: Lohri (name for Makar Sankranti in the north) is incomplete without this mustard (sarason) vegetable served with makai (corn) roti. It is one of my favourites as well and its packed with nutrition.
- Sakkarai pongal: A South Indian dish made with rice and dal. There is a sweet and savoury option. Jaggery is again used as the main sweetener. This usually becomes a breakfast meal.
As you see a lot of sweet stuff makes its way into this festival and jaggery is used as the main sweetener because it is harvested during this time. Other than that even ganna (sugarcane) juice is freshly squeezed and enjoyed in the morning.
Mythology says Lord Sun never got along with his son Lord Shani and on the day of Makar Sankranti, Lord Sun visited Shani and finally forgave him. This belief led to people asking for forgiveness, letting go and only sharing words of love during this festival.
As per science, forgiveness when practiced daily can impact our brain waves positively. So if you need to forgive yourself or someone else, this is the time to start the forgiveness practice.
#3 Healing germs:
Flying kites just didn’t happen like that! The basis for this is gathering on rooftops under the Sun, who has finally restored its capacity after a long winter and cleanses our bodies off infection and germs. In order to make this fun and joyful, kite flying was born.
So if you want to absorb all the healing properties of the sun, this is the time to get out of the house and sun bathe with the kites!
#4 Feeling oneness:
Since sun or surya is the centre of this festival, loads of people worship Lord Surya. Sun unconditionally showers its love to all human beings without any disparity or discrimination. Therefore this festival is all about coming together and feeling one with each other.
I hope this piece opened another door to know our culture even more closely. Especially the wellness facts that can benefit us during this bright festival! I wish Happy Makar Sankranti to all of you – enjoy the sun and seasonal healthy dishes without any guilt.
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