Story by Debjani Chatterjee | Photo by Debjani Chatterjee
Sheffield’s Hindus celebrated Makar Sankranti at the Hindu Samaj Centre in Burngreave on Saturday 14th January. This seasonal and religious festival, held about 21 days after the winter solstice, marks the start of the harvest eason. The festival food was sponsored by Anisha Singh and other Hindu Samaj members. Traditional activities during Makar Sankranti include taking holy dips in ponds, rivers and seas; kite flying; enjoying family reunions; eating seasonal vegetables and special sweets, e.g. jaggery and sesame seed sweets; honouring cattle and other animals; and worshipping. The day is dedicated to Surya the Sun God, and Makar Sankranti is one of only a few Hindu festivals to use the solar calendar. It is celebrated under different names and in slightly different ways in various Indian states, as well as some other Asian lands. For instance, in Rajasthan it is called Makar Sakrat, in Gujarat it is Uttarayan, in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka it is Pongal, in West Bengal and Bangladesh it is Poush Sangkranti, in Kashmir it is Shishur Saenkraat, in Nepal it is Maghe Sankranti, in Thailand it is Songkran, in Myanmar it is Thingyan and in Cambodia it is Moha Sangkran.