Makara Sankranti is being celebrated across the country today. This day, every year, marks the transit of the Sun from the Southern Hemisphere to the north as the days get longer than the nights. Every state in India has its unique way of celebrating Makara Sankranti.
In Himachal Pradesh, large number of devotees visit the Brajeshwari Devi temple, where 2,500 kg of clarified butter is used for making the idol. One of the busiest shrines in north India, the temple sees a large number of pilgrims from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
Bracing the winter chill, hundreds took a holy dip at Tattapani and Manikaran, home to a Sikh shrine in Kullu district. Tattapani and Manikaran are also known for their hot springs with high sulphur content.
Scores of devotees from across the country gathered at the Sangam Ghat in Prayagraj, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. Approximately 1 lakh 17 thousand people offered prayers in Prayagraj. Kumbh is the largest human congregation in the world, with lakhs of pilgrims participating in the festival.
In Gujarat, Uttarayan or Makara Sankranti is celebrated for two days. Special kites are made for the Uttarayan, with light-weight paper and bamboo. The kites are mostly rhombus in shape with a central spine and a single bow. This year many have made kites with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Famous sand artist and Padmashree awardee, Sudarshan Pattnaik, put up a video of his Makar Sankranti art work on Twitter. The artwork, on the Puri beach, in the backdrop of crashing waves made a beautiful sight as people gathered to watch it.
Nearly 16 lakh devotees from across the country congregated at the Ganga Sagar, the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal. West Bengal Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee, who is
looking after the arrangements for the pilgrims, said that more devotees would reach the island over the next two days.
Every year, on Makar Sankranti, lakhs of pilgrims offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Ashram. "Last year, over 20 lakh pilgrims had visited the Ganga Sagar. This year it will cross that number. We have made all arrangements for them so that they can have a memorable time," said Mr Mukherjee.
The state government has deployed a huge contingent of forces, 20 drones cameras and over 800 CCTVs to ensure security at the Sagar Mela. The Indian Coast Guard has also enhanced
surveillance along the coastline of West Bengal, an official said.
At Sabarimala in Kerala, the two-month pilgrimage season will end with lakhs of devotees watching the 'Makara Jyothi' - or a celestial star. Lord Ayyappa will be adorned and a pooja will be performed with ghee brought from the Travancore royal palace.