Farming constitutes a major chunk of the Indian economy. Every year, farmers work hard to reap a good harvest. The harvest season, which falls in the second week of January, marks the end of the winter solstice. This occasion is celebrated across the country in different ways and is given various other names based on the region. It is known as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Lohri in Punjab, Poush Sankranti in West Bengal and Makara Sankranti in all the other regions.
Sankranti is the name given to the festival in Karnataka. Kannadiga farmers make sure to pray to the Sun God, Surya for giving sunlight to their crops and helping them grow. The first harvest is offered as a token to the god as a way of thanking for the year-long protection and safe-keeping.
In Karnataka, there is a saying which goes, “Ellu bella thindu olle maathadi’ which talks about the way the harvest festival has to be celebrated. It translates to ‘eat the mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good.’ The festival which is also called as Suggi calls for the people to dress up in their finery and serve Ellu Bella, which is a special dish made of jaggery and white sesame mixed with coconuts. The streets are filled with rangoli and the kids enjoy kite flying as a part of the festivities.
One of the biggest celebrations of this festival is the ritual involving the cattle. The farmers decorate their cows and bulls in colourful costumes and pray them. A special ritual called the “Kichchu Haayisuvudu” is celebrated, where the cows are taken on a procession after which they are made to cross fire. This is a common ritual among the Kannadigas.
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