The festival of Makar Sankranti is dedicated to the Hindu sun god Surya. The festival also marks the beginning of a six months auspicious period for hindus known as Uttarayana period. It is celebrated on January 14 every year.
In Bihar Makar Sankranti is celebrated by eating Dahi-Chura (Flattened rice and curd) and Laai-Tilkut (sweets) and kite flying.
Every year Bihar government organizes “Vishal Samrasta Mahabhoj” where people are invited to eat Dahi-Chura and a kite flying compition at Gandhi Maidan, Patna. It is organised to celebrate the festival together and share the joy and happiness.
It is one of the few ancient Indian festivals that have been observed according to solar cycle, while most of the festivels are set by the lunar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar. It marks the first day of sun’s transit in the Makra rashi (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and start of longer days.
Makar Sankranti is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly people take dip in holy rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, and Godavari. The bathing is believed to result in merit or absolution of past sins. People pray to the sun and thank for the successes and prosperity. Makar Sankranti is the start of the most famous Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj (merger place of three holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati). Kumbh melais regarded as on the pilgrims for Hindus starts on Makar Sankranti. Lakhs of evotees go to Prayagraj to take bath in holy rivers and pray to sun god Surya.
A shared cultural practice found in most part of India is making of sticky, bound sweets called laai and tilkut from til (sesame) and gur (jaggery). It is observed with social festivities such as colourful decorations, melas, dances, kite flying, bonfires and feasts. Makar Sankranti is known by different names in different part of India like Maghi by north Indians and Sikhs, Pedda Pandaga in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Telangana, Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu in Assam and Pongal in Tamil. Being a solar cycle festival it falls on the same date every year (January 14).