Today is the day when the Sun enters the constellation of Makara (Capricorn). It’s celebrated as Pongal, Bihu, Bhogi and mostly as Makara Sankranti in India to express gratitude to Mother Earth for providing sustenance in the form of grains and other edibles, and also to the farm animals, especially the cow, which is worshipped and treated as mother. We are the only mammals who drink the milk of other species.
This festival is important, because a society can survive without rocket technology, but not without agriculture. This day of gratitude and celebration of the bountifulness of the earth and nature is a beautiful Indian festival that all environmentalists, irrespective of the religion and geography, should participate in.
This is celebrated by flying kites, lighting bonfires, bathing in holy rivers, worshipping Lord Sun, making, eating and distributing sweets made from sesame (til) and jaggery.
Now on a lighter note, here is a ditty, as usual in the evening. The topic is
नज़ाकत / The Delicacy
एक मशहूर शायर का एक शेर था-
“क्या नज़ाकत है कि आरिज़ उनके नीले पड़ गए,
मैं ने तो बोसा लिया था ख़्वाब में तस्वीर का..”
मकर संक्रांति के अवसर पर इसी शेर से प्रेरणा लेते हुए लखनऊ के ‘छोटे नवाब’ ने फरमाया –
“ख्वाब में खिलाए थे मैं ने उन्हें तिल के लड्डू,
सहर क्या हुआ कुछ तिल उभर आए चेहरे पर उनके..”
A great poet had written-
“How delicate she is
that her cheeks turned blue,
even though I kissed
her photograph in my dreams..”
Inspired by this couplet, on the eve of Makara Sankranti, the ‘Mini Nawab’ of Lucknow wrote,
“I had fed her sesame (TIL) sweets
in my dreams,
in the morning I spotted some moles (TIL) on her face..”
Both sesame seeds and moles are called ‘TIL‘ in Hindi. They look alike. As mentioned above, TIL sweets are traditionally eaten on the day of Makara Sankranti.