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Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious day for Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of India with different names and different rituals.

The festival marks the commencement of Sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere, thereby making the days warmer and longer than the nights – i.e. it marks the end of winter season and beginning of harvest or spring season.

It is one of the few Hindu festivals which is celebrated on a fixed date each year – 14 January.

Some common rituals include spring cleaning, wearing new clothes and exchanging gifts.

In Gujarat and Maharashtra, Makar Sankranti is a festival of the young and the old. Colourful kites are flown all around.

In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is called Lohri. December and January are the coldest months of the year in Punjab and huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankranti. Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown on the bonfires and friends and relatives gather together.

In Uttar Pradesh, this period is celebrated as Kicheri. It is considered important to have a bath on this day and masses of people can be seen bathing in the Sangam at Prayagraj where the rivers Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswathi flow together.

In Southern India it’s the harvest festival Pongal and lasts for 3 days. On the first day, rice boiled with milk is offered to the Rain God. On the second day, it is offered to the the Sun God and on the third day, the family cattle are given a bath and dressed with flowers, bells and colours, to honour them for their hard work in the fields.