Makar Sankranti: What India eats to celebrate the good harvest

With the celebration being unique to each region, Makar Sankranti recognises the diversity of India, and observes good harvest.

Today, India is celebrating Makar Sankranti or Sankranti. The festival is observed every January on the day when the sun transits into Makara Rashi or Capricorn, marking the end of the winter solstice and the beginning of longer days.

With the celebration being unique to each region, Makar Sankranti recognises the diversity of India.

State across the country celebrate their harvest today, and the festival is known by various names:

  • Sankranthi in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
  • Makara Sankranti in Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa and West Bengal
  • Maghi in Punjab, Harayana and Himachal Pradesh
  • Magh Bihu in Assam
  • Pongal in Tamil Nadu
  • Uttarayan in Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh

YS Weekender takes you on a visual journey of the various delicacies that India consumes to celebrate Makar Sankranti:

Sweet Pongal is a usually offered to the Sun God as a ritual in Tamil Nadu | Image source: Shutterstock

Sweet Pongal in Tamil Nadu

Sweet Pongal or Chakkara Pongali is made with rice, lentils, jaggery, cardamom, ghee, and rice. The dish signifies prosperity after a successful harvest.

Sweet Pongal is usually offered to the Sun God as a ritual.

Patishapta is like a sweet crepe prepared in Bengali households during Sankranti | Image source: Shutterstock

Pithe in West Bengal

Think dumplings and crepes made with rice flour, coconut, milk and khejurer gur (date palm jaggery). Bengali kitchens on the day of Sankranti smell of all things sweet and warm.

Pithe is prepared in various forms — steamed, fried, baked — and can be both sweet or savoury or both, depending on the ingredients used.

Sarson ka saag is usually served with makki ki roti | Image source: Shutterstock

Sarson ka Saag in Punjab

The popular north-Indian dish made from mustard greens or sarson, along with ginger and garlic, is usually served with makki ki roti or maize flour bread.

A popular delicacy in North-India, sarson ka saag is a must-have during Sankranti, along with gur and chikki (peanuts and jaggery cakes).

Tilgul or til aur gur ke laddoo is popular in Maharashtra, UP and Bihar | Image source: Shutterstock

Tilgul in Maharashtra

Candy-size til (sesame) and gur (jaggery) laddoos are exchanged in Maharashtra every Sankranti. "Til, gud ghya ni god god bola (Eat til gur and speak sweet)" is a common phrase used in Maharashtra while exchanging the sweets.

The delicacy is popular in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as well.

Undhiyo is a mixed vegetable prepared in earthen pots, and served with puris | Image source: Shutterstock

Undhiyu in Gujarat

Gujaratis prepare a mixed vegetable in a hot pot to celebrate the good harvest. Undhiyo usually includes green beans, eggplants, potatoes, and yam, mixed with spices, and sesame oil.

The mixed vegetable dish is usually served with puris or deep-fried wheat-flour bread.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta