Sankranti celebrated with fervour and gaiety

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Mumbai, Jan 14 (UNI) Makar Sankranti, one of the most auspicious day for the Hindus, was celebrated with great devotion, fervourr and gaiety in the metropolis.

The festival has several significances. The Sun begins its ascendancy and journey into the Northern Hemisphere on this day, and thus it signifies, ''Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya (May you go higher and higher - to more and more light and never to darkness)''. It is said Bhishma left his mortal coil on this day.

The festival, which is also marked by kite flying, has special significance for farmers.

The festival is celebrated by different names all over the country . In Uttar Pradesh, Sankranti is called ''Khichiri''.

Taking a dip in the holy rivers on this day is regarded as most auspicious. A one-month long ''Magha-Mela'' (fair) begins at Prayag (Allahabad) on this occasion. In Bengal every year a ''Mela'' is held at Ganga Sagar where the river Ganga is believed to have dived into the nether world and vivified the ashes of the sixty thousand ancestors of King Bhagirath.

In Tamil Nadu, Sankranti is known by the name of ''Pongal'', which takes its name from the surging of rice boiled in a pot of milk.

In Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated as a three-day harvest festival Pongal. In Karnataka, the festival is marked by visiting one's friends and relatives to exchange greetings, and ''Ellu'' a preparation made with sesame seeds, coconuts and sugar blocks.

In Maharashtra on the Sankranti day people exchange multi-colored tilgul and til-laddus made from til and jaggery.

The under-lying thought in the exchange of tilguls is to forget the past ill-feelings and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends.

This day has special significance for married women in Maharashtra as they are invited for a get-together called ''Haldi-Kumkum''.

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