13th or 14th January every year is celebrated to worship the Sun. The celebration is to thank the sun god for the abundance in the harvest in the country all year round.
While people in north India call this festival by the name Makar Sankranti, those in the south call it Pongal. In Assam, the same occasion is popular as Bhogali Bihu.
This major Indian festival marks the start of longer days and the end of the winter season. This day is the first day of the Sun's transit in Makar (Capricorn) Rashi.
People who celebrate it as Pongal in regions like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana don’t just cherish it for one day. The celebration goes on for four long days.
The first day is the Bhogi festival and is for the worship of Lord Indra (the rain god). The second day is Thai Pongal, which is to thank Lord Surya (the Sun).
The third day is Mattu Pongal, which is to worship the farm animals like cows and bulls. And finally, the fourth day is the Kaanum Pongal day. On this day, people tend to their relationships by focusing on their bonds with the family. Women perform special rituals on this day for the prosperity of their brothers as well.
Isn’t all this so intriguing? Also, it might be interesting to know that according to Hindu belief, people who die on the day of Makar Sankranti do not have to repeat the cycle of life. They go straight to heaven.
The day has a lot of significance and so, it must get enjoyed with full vigor along with your elders.
Here’re 8 Ways You Can Enjoy Makar Sankranti/ Pongal/Bihu With Your Elders
1: Cook Pongal with your elders
Those who celebrate Pongal make a delightful south Indian dish by the same name. It’s a sweet dish made of moong dal, jaggery, milk, and boiled rice. You can also add dry fruits and coconut to this dish.
A part of the Indian cuisine, Pongal is served usually in the morning. And before eating, you should offer it to god- especially the sun god and rain god, as Naivedyam.
The dish is quick to prepare and light on the stomach, so it’s fantastic for your elders. It is also protein-packed and loaded with a delicious taste and aroma. Your elders will love it when you serve it hot or warm.
But we recommend you make the dish with them in the kitchen. This way, you will get some time to bond with them while you thank the universe for bringing food to your table all year long.
2: Go kite flying with your elders
If you have ever looked up in the sky on the day of Makar Sankranti, you know that it is full of kites that day.
So, why not go kite flying yourself? Go to the market and buy colorful kites with your elders. If you want to spend more fun time with your elders, get a little creative, and try to make these kites at home with them.
Make the activity much more interesting by initiating kite flying competitions between the elders present in the neighborhood.
To end the day, fly eco-friendly lanterns at night with your elders.
If possible, take your elders to the grand Gujarat kite festival that happens every year on this day.
The benefit you get out of this activity is not just the fun, pleasure, and togetherness.
Your elders also get a chance to get exposed to the rays of the sun, which is a great healer. If your elder has any illnesses or skin infections associated with the winter season, you will see them vanish slowly after a few hours of being under the Sun.
The whole activity will also help elders to revisit their childhood memories and thus, forget the stresses of their declining health and daily life.
3: Take them to watch the Bihu dance
Bhogali Bihu or Magh Bihu is an important festival for the Assamese, which they celebrate with loads of dancing. They have a special dance form of their own, which is also called Bihu.
If you have a community of Assamese people celebrating the festival anywhere around you, you will find them performing in community halls on this day.
You can buy Assamese traditional dresses for your elders and help them enjoy watching (if not dancing) the Bihu dance events that get organized in the cities.
4: Take them to the temple
Makar Sankranti, Pongal, or Bihu, whatever you call it, the day is super auspicious. And such an auspicious day brings you and your elder the opportunity to get blessings from the divine.
So, take your elders to the nearby temple. You can also get a Shanti havan done. Or at least get a small pooja done to thank Lord Surya and the god of the rain from your side.
For a grander pooja or havan, you can invite your friends and family too.
Such a havan will help cleanse the atmosphere as well.
5: Take your elders to the fair
An occasion like that of Makar Sankranti also means the organization of many Melas or fairs. One of the famous fairs held during this time is the Kumbh Mela. It happens every 12 years at Haridwar, Nasik, or Ujjain.
Another fair called the Gangasagar Mela happens at the Sagar Island (Ganges) in West Bengal. Your elder would love to take a dip in the holy water here.
People in Orissa enjoy the Makar Mela while those in Shantiniketan cherish the Poush Mela.
Maghi Mela is also celebrated around this time in the memory of forty Sikh martyrs who gave up their lives to protect Guru Gobind Singh. The fair happens at Sri Muktsar Sahib - the holy city in Punjab.
You can go and visit these fairs with your elders. While there, make sure you enjoy games and buy some interesting souvenirs for your elders.
6: Spend the day with orphans
You and your elder can spend this auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti with orphans. Go to see them and offer them clothes and gifts like stationery items and kites. Spend some time with them and enjoy games like tug of war, musical chairs or dance with them on Bihu songs.
You can also organize a kite flying competition with the kids at the orphanage. Take some Pongal dishes and other festive delights for them to eat.
Doing this helps them feel important and let go of their loneliness. Also, this is great for your elder as it makes him feel valuable to society. Most elders feel the opposite, which hampers their mental health.
7: Go to see cultural programs
Occasions like Pongal, Bihu, and Makar Sankranti create a big opportunity for people to organize cultural programs. These include Nukkad Nataks and skits about the old stories regarding the festival.
You will also get to enjoy folk dances like Karagam dance, Kavadi, and Thappattam on Pongal. Those who celebrate the day as Makar Sankranti love to engage in Bhangra and Giddha.
Making time to enjoy such cultural programs will be useful for you and your elder to get back in touch with your old values and culture.
8: Spend quality time with family
Elders love to spend time with family. So, make sure you take full advantage of such an occasion and a holiday from work to spend a day or two with your elder. No need of inviting friends and family from far. Just make some good food and cherish some quality time with your immediate family.
The elder will love this gesture from you as it helps them bond better with the younger generation and feel the care and love he deserves.
You can also arrange a bonfire and sit around it with the family. Talk to your elder and ask him or her about your festive stories of childhood.
If you want, you can also go on a mini trip with your family to any pilgrimage site. Visiting the Kumbh Mela at this time of the year can be hectic yet highly valuable for your elder.
Another option is to go to your native village with your elder to meet more elders. Some time away from city life will help the elder feel relaxed and blissful. Thus, helping to improve his health while he enjoys his time.
The Bottom Line
If there’s one thing you should take away from this article here, it is that you should spend more time with your elders. Expensive gifts won't make him feel as splendid as you being there with him.
These 8 amazing ways are sure to help you do that. Try these and help your elder have a great Makar Sankranti!
Don't forget to share this article with your friends and family who need ideas to celebrate this day with their elders. If you loved these, we think they might too.
Have a happy festive season!