In India—a land of festivals—the first festival of the year to be celebrated across the country is Makar Sankranti. We know it as the ‘festival of harvest, thus celebrated more elaborately in villages than in the cities.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in January every year. It marks the end of winter and the beginning of a new harvest season. In most parts of India, it is dedicated to the Sun God, who enters the zodiac sign of Makar, the Sanskrit word for Capricorn. This is why the festival is called Makar Sankranti.
From the day of Makar Sankranti, the Sun begins its journey towards the northern hemisphere from the Southern Hemisphere. During this period, days are longer and nights are shorter. Thus, the festival is also widely known as Uttarayan.
Why we celebrate Makar Sankranti
Sankranti is also a name for a goddess who, in some legends, killed a demon named Sankarasura on the festival day. The next day is called Kinkranti—named after the demon Kinkarasura that the Goddess slew on that day.
In some other legends, Surya Dev or the Sun God visits his son Shani, the planet Saturn on Sankranti. Also, King Bhagirath liberated his ancestors after bringing the River Ganga to the Earth on this day.
It is also believed that Bhishma from the epic of Mahabharata—who had the boon of self-willed death—left the Earth during this time. In some other stories, Lord Vishnu buried the demons under Mandara Hill on this day.
In Haryana and Punjab, Lohri is celebrated one day before Makar Sankranti. While in Uttar Pradesh, it is regarded as the ‘festival of donation’, which continues throughout the month at the conjunction of the divine rivers—Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. In Gujarat, people organise a grand kite festival on Sankranti.
The festival is also fondly celebrated in the southern parts of India. In Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated as Pongal for four days. In Karnataka, ‘ellu’ and ‘bella’, meaning a mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery, is prepared, distributed and eaten with great relish. While in Andhra Pradesh, people decorate their houses with flowers and rejoice with their families during the festival.
Thus, Makar Sankranti is observed in diverse ways in different parts of India. People make Rangolis, conduct competitions for all age groups, and decorate and worship animals like cows and bulls. Family members unite over elaborate festive meals and reminisce about good memories while making new ones on this joyous occasion.
Celebrate Makar Sankranti with Akshaya Patra
Unfortunately, millions of people in India live deprived of necessities, even during festivals.
The World Bank reports that about half of the total number of extremely underprivileged individuals in the world live in just five countries in Africa and Asia. And the 2022 Global Hunger Index indicates that India suffers a level of hunger that is serious!
But you can make an impact on this Makar Sankranti!
Why not make a real difference in the lives of people from low socioeconomic backgrounds by donating online to The Akshaya Patra Foundation? Your contribution on this special occasion will empower them with nourishing meals every day of the year!
We, at The Akshaya Patra Foundation are an internationally recognised 22-year-old NGO serving unlimited meals for education of socio-economically deprived children of Government and Government-aided schools, working in tandem with the Central Government’s initiative of PM Poshan Abhiyaan. We feed the children so that they attend school regularly and strive for better lifestyles for their families without hurdles.
We are grateful to donors like you because of whom we nourish 20,10,516 (2 million) children from 65 kitchens across 14 states and 2 union territories in India today!
As our Foundation continued to receive support globally, we introduced more programmes to elevate more communities who need aid. We launched programmes for mothers without families, pregnant women, nursing mothers and many others who hail from marginalised communities.
Programmes you can support this Makar Sankranti
PM Poshan Abhiyaan: We began by feeding 1,500 children in five Government schools of Karnataka to support the Indian Government’s Mid-Day Meal Programme. After 20 years of running it successfully, the Government introduced its revamped model called the PM Poshan Abhiyaan on 29 September 2021, while adding features to enhance its effectiveness.
Under the new model, the scheme also:
• Feeds the children of pre-primary school or Bal Vatika.
• Appoints experts to monitor the nutrition, haemoglobin levels, BMI and weight of school children.
• Provides supplementary nutrition for anaemic children.
• Trains children to grow food with nutritional gardens.
• Promotes women’s self-help groups (SHGs) and Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) by procuring locally grown raw materials.
• Calls college and university students to examine and ensure ground-level execution.
• Encourages local communities to feed children during festivals.
According to The National Education Policy 2020 research, it was discovered that the morning hours can be more productive for studying cognitively more demanding subjects after a nutritious breakfast. So, we started serving breakfast along with mid-day meals in some schools last year to improve the nutrition levels of children and incentivise them further to attend school regularly with higher concentration and interest.
Last year in August, we also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nutrihub, the Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) to introduce millets and improve the nutritional content of school meals. The decision was based on the finding that millets are five times more nourishing than rice and wheat. They will help children further as they are easily digestible, strengthen the nervous system, nourish the muscular system, protect against lifestyle diseases and cancer risks, reduce cholesterol and improve energy levels.
So, mark this Makar Sankranti by donating to feed the children in Government and Government-aided schools. Help us launch new initiatives for them and expand their reach so that no child in India is deprived of education because of hunger.
Anganwadi Feeding Programme: The first six years of a child’s life are crucial for the complete development of their vital organs. It builds the foundation for their future growth and learning. Your support towards the Anganwadi Feeding Programme will prevent deaths of children below five years of age while also nourishing their mothers.
We have served 1,61,53,556 meals in Anganwadi centres so far. Make 2023 special with your donation this Makar Sankranti to feed the children and their mothers.
Homeless Mothers Feeding Programme: Around 10% of the female population is homeless without husbands and families. Fortunately, we have care centres in India to protect and nurture these women. These are Government-run facilities that provide necessities and workshops free of cost to upskill and empower them.
Currently, we serve nutritious meals twice a day in such ashrams in Vrindavan. With your support, we aim to expand our reach across India so that these mothers can live peaceful and independent lives.
This Makar Sankranti, make a difference! Donate and save tax.
We, at Akshaya Patra, refuse to rest until we achieve zero hunger in India!
So, join our proud donor family this Makar Sankranti. Start your 2023 with the generosity of donating to feed people from low socioeconomic backgrounds while also gaining a 50% tax exemption on your invaluable contribution as Akshaya Patra is registered u/s 12 A of the Income Tax act.
Share the blessings of health and wealth you received and fill your lives with goodness and satisfaction this 2023!
SUPPORT US TODAY FOR A HUNGER-FREE AND UNSTOPPABLE INDIA TOMORROW!