Harvest Festivals: Winter Harvest Festivals of India
Harvesting, the process of gathering ripe crops from the fields is the time of the year when the ‘Harvest Festival’ is celebrated. Since, it is basically the celebration of the food grown on the land, the harvest festival is celebrated all over the world, though at different times of the year depending upon the region, climate, and the crops. On the other hand, harvest festivals are also celebrated to thank for the blessing of a bountiful harvest, and to ensure the recurrence of the process.
As India is considered as a land of highly cultivable soil and is one among the top three global producers of crops, the harvest festival is observed to worship and thank the Gods and Goddess for the crops being productive.
Additionally, after being sowed in and cared for round the clock, the completion of harvesting marks the end of the growing season, and the social importance of this event makes it the focus of seasonal celebrations. And this is the reason, all the rural festivals in India are invariably celebrated after the harvesting season.
Lohri: 13th January (Punjab)
The Punjabi festival Lohri is celebrated on January 13th each year and usually falls a day before Makar Sankranti. Since, the traditional time to harvest sugarcane crops is January, Lohri is seen by some as a harvest festival. Additionally, this festival is even associated with the harvest of the rabi crops. (The crops are grown during the winter and harvested in the spring season.)
On the day of the festival, with the setting of the sun, people organize a bonfire, (as an offering to the Sun God, the giver of all life) gathers around it, offers grains and nuts to express the gratitude towards God for the successful harvest of the crops.
Makar Sankranti: 15th January
Makar Sankranti is one of the major Indian harvest festivals and celebrated almost everywhere in the country in myriad cultural forms and different names, though observed on the same date, sometimes for multiple dates around the Makar Sankranti. Check Out Makar Sankranti wishes to share with your loved ones
For instance, it is known as Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh, Uttarayan in Gujarat, Sakraat in Rajasthan, Pongal in South India, Makara Sankranti in Karnataka and Maharashtra, Magh Bihu in Assam, Magha Mela in parts of central and North India and so on.
Pongal: 15th to 18th January (Tamil Nadu)
The meaning of Pongal is ‘spilling over’, and it is so-called because of the tradition of boiling rice and milk in a pot, until it starts to spill.
Pongal is mainly observed in Tamil Nadu and lasts for about four days. And held to honour the Sun, for a bountiful harvest. Therefore, the Sun is offered the ‘Pongal’ of rice and milk. And families gather to rejoice and share their joy and their harvests with others.
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu: 16th January (Assam)
Magh Bihu is the harvest festival celebrated by the Assamese people and is also called as Bhogali Bihu. The national festival of Assam is celebrated three times in a year, Maagh in January, Bohaag in April and Kaati in October. It brings the people of Assam together, irrespective of caste, religion, creed, gender or race. The highlight of this festival is the food prepared from the grains, after the harvest. Even offerings are made to the sacred fire, and people later indulge in traditional breakfast.