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Posted on : January 14th, by
Paddy Field Paddy Field

Blog by Shrijanand, 18 years old son of Vandana, on what the festival Makara Sankranti (January 15th) means to him as a teen of the next generation.

It’s that time of the year again when kids take to the streets and rooftops, leading their parents in hand, with customary kites waiting to catch the wind tucked under their arms.

Kite Festival in Gujarat
Kite Festival in Gujarat×400.jpg

Makara Sankranti is distinctive among other Indian Festivals. Although the traditional Indian calendar is based on Lunar positions, Sankranti is a Solar event making it one of the few Indian festivals which fall on the same date every year!
It is so easy to look forward to colourful and intricately designed Rangoli,

Rangoli Designs Rangoli Designs

streets filled with shops selling kites,

Shops selling kites Shops selling kites

bonfires lit at early dawn defrosting cold fingertips

Bonfires Bonfires,

and delicious Payasam (an Indian sweet made of boiled rice) made fresh in traditional earthen pots

Delicious Payasam Delicious Payasam

And let’s not forget the delightfully decorated cows all decked up in preparation for the festival!

Decorated Cow Decorated Cow

Or the lovely December flower – the Kanakambaram

 Kanakambaram Kanakambaram

and the little baskets they are carried in

Little baskets Little baskets

or the flurry of activity in the new clothes bazaars

New Clothes Bazaars
New Clothes Bazaars

The skies are dotted with beautiful kites all competing against each other – trying to reach higher as much as their strings allow them to, fighting with other kites trying to bring them down and remain in the sky as a sole victor

Kite Festival in Gujarat
Kite Festival in Gujarat×400.jpg

It is easy to forget what the festival is celebrating.
Makara Sankranti is a Harvest festival. The word Sankranti means the transition of the sun from one zodiac to another thus making 12 Sankrantis in a year. Makara is the name for Capricorn and this sun transition heralds the entry of the sun into the celestial Capricorn zodiac. The festival commemorates the beginning of the harvest season with green, lush fields filled with paddy ready to be harvested.

Lush fields filled with paddy
Lush fields filled with paddy

With all the fanfare surrounding the festival, it is easy for one to overlook the subtler joys of Makar Sankranti. Every year unmilled rice grains are sown and farmers toil with much effort into an output of good yield. When Makar Sankranti finally rolls in, harvest season starts and farmers can bear the fruits of their labour!

Harvest season starts Harvest season starts

A paddy field is a beautiful sight to behold! It is a stretch of land filled with sown paddy decorating the landscape often outlined with coconut palm trees. These fields stretch on for acres with the paddy appearing to be a yellowish-green surface spread across the land rather than appearing to be each distinct, individual stalk. The true essence of Makar Sankranti is so wonderfully captured in this rendition of Paddy Fields painted by my mother when we had visited our roots in Mori Village in the Konaseema belt of India. The beauty of the painting lies in the distance the viewer sees the painting – up close the painting seems pixilated with a form of static across the canvas but as one slowly steps away from the painting and continues to look at it, the rich Paddy Fields come into view! This clarity with distance is so paradoxical, yet subtle in its depiction of harvest.
Wishing you all a Happy Makar Sankranti! I hope my kite won’t get cut down this year.