Makar Sankranti (Hindu)
Celebrates the first day of the Sun's transit into Makara (Capricorn) and welcomes longer days. It is dedicated to Surya, the Hindu Sun God. The festival features melas (fairs), dances, flying kites, bonfires, and feasts. Colorful decorations abound, including muggulu ("floor artwork") on streets and in building entrances. Magha Mela, another name for this holiday), is mentioned in the Mahabharata, establishing that this festival is at least 5,000 years old.
Muggulu (Wikimedia Commons)
Another common practice is to travel to a sacred river or lakes to bathe, offering thanksgiving to the sun, believed to absolve past sins. New clothing may be worn to welcome positive change. Gifts of plants or colorful pots may be exchanged.
Gift Pots (Wikimedia Commons)
Every 12 years Makar Sankranti becomes a pilgrimage of 40 to 100 million people attending, praying to the sun and bathing where the sacred rivers Ganga and Yamuna merge. These rhythms are adapted from traditional versions of the Surya Mantra.
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