The first Hindu Festival in the first month of English calendar is Makara Sankranti. The transit of the Sun into Capricorn signifies this festival. The Sun will move towards North from this time. This is called the Uttarayan where in all the Gods are supposed to wake up from a 6 month long slumber.
Makara Sankranti is a farmer’s festival celebrated on the occasion of the harvest coming home. It is a four day festival. The first day being Bhogi, second Sankranti, the third being Kanuma and the last Mukkanuma.
The festivity starts one month before Sankranti which is generally on 14th January of every year. In some areas,' dolls Kolu' is arranged in the houses, ladies visit each others houses and distribute paan and fruits.The bulls are decorated with colored clothing and bells and two men, make the bull dance to the tune of their Nadaswaram and Dhol. The house fronts are decorated with special Rangavallis. The Haridas with a pumpkin shaped vessel on his head visits houses singing songs of worship accompanied by Tanpura. People donate rice to the Haridas.
On Bhogi day there will be bon fire in the centre of the village or at cross roads and all the unwanted wood is flung into it. Ladies and girls decorate their houses with colored Rangavalli ( rangoli/kolam) and some girls make balls of cow dung called gobbemmas,decorated with pumpkin flowers and petals of banthi (marigold/gende ka phool) and arrange in the rangavalli (cow dung is supposed to keep all pests and insects away).
The big gobbi in the centre is supposed to be Lord Krishna and the small ones around to be Gopis. Sweet Pongal comprising of rice, jaggery and ghee is prepared. In the eveing unwed girls wear new clothes and sing songs going around the Gobbis and dance. Ladies gather in the evening and put a mixture of Indian berry, marigold petals, sugar cane pieces and soaked chana on the heads of badies to seek blessings of Sun God and to keep them safe from evil eyes. Young and old alike fly colorful kites the whole day. Even competitions are conducted. Though banned cock fights are conducted in villages and bets are placed on different cocks.
On Sankranti day savory pongal comprising of rice, mung dal, pepper etc is prepared and a part of it is sprinkled in the fields as offering to Mother Earth for giving us food. The birds also are fed. In Karnataka the mixture of Indian berry,marigold and sugar cane is put on the babies head on Sankranti day.
A mixture of fried sesame seeds (til), ground nuts s, putna dal (bhuna chana) and jaggery is distributed among near and dear to talk sweetly to every one forgetting all grouses. Some people offer pumpkins to Brahmins as they believe that by doing so they receive the blessings of their dear departed. Sweets meats made of rice, jaggery, sesame (gingili),bajra are special for Sankranti.