File photo: People enjoy kite flying during the occasion of Makar Sankranti. (Press Trust of India)
Residents of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are gearing up for the Sankranti festivities to be celebrated on a grand scale for three days from Wednesday.
An estimated four lakh people have left Hyderabad for different destinations in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to celebrate the harvest festival at their native places.
Trains, the state-run Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) buses and private buses ran choc-a-bloc due to the heavy rush of passengers. Special services being run by the South Central Railway (SCR) and the APSRTC were also full to the brim.
Authorities on Tuesday clamped down on private bus operators at several places in Andhra Pradesh who allegedly charged exorbitant fares from passengers in view of the heavy demand.
Sankranti is a major festival in Andhra Pradesh. The first day of the festival is 'Bhogi', an event when massive bonfires are lit before sunrise outside the homes. Children and elders alike take head bath with 'kunkudukai' (soap nut). In the evening, 'Regi pallu (small berries) and coins are poured on children to protect them from evil eye.
The second and the main day of the festival is Makar Sankranti which marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. Milk, rice mixed with jaggery is cooked and offered to the Sun god on the day. A large number of toys, mainly made of wood, are tastefully arranged (known as 'bommala koluvu') and women folk gather in the evening in an event called 'perantalu'.
The third day is known as 'Kanuma' when cattle are worshipped and workers used to be given money and new clothes in the old days.
A traditional sport of cock fights are held in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh as part of Sankranti festivities, but the rural sport has acquired a new dimension in recent years.