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Uttarayan is one of the most important Hindu festivals observed in Gujarat and Maharashtra. The festival is popularly known throughout India as Makar Sankranti. The festival is dedicated to Lord Surya. Gujarat, the festival is today synonymous with the Kite festival. In 2018, the date of Uttarayan is January 14. 

Uttarayan is the day when the Sun leaves Dhanus and enters the Makar rashi or the Capricorn. This marks the beginning of Uttarayan Punyakalam, a period of six months which is considered highly auspicious. It is believed to be the day time of the Devas. Uttarayan also signals the onset of spring throughout the northern hemisphere.

People in Maharashtra and Gujarat make sesame balls and ‘gur’ and distribute it among neighbors, relatives and friends. In Gujarat, grain from the recent harvest is used to cook ‘khichdo’ – a special Uttarayan dish.

An International Kite Festival is organized in Gujarat on Uttarayan. People gather on rooftops and terraces to fly kites on this day.

It must be noted here Uttarayan is known as Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In Tamil Nadu, it is observed as Pongal.