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Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra - Bhogichi Bhaji and Til Gul

Makara Sankranthi, or Makar Sankrant, marks the commencement of the Sun's (Surya) journey to the Northern Hemisphere (Makara rasi). In 2019, date of Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra is January 15. It signifies the onset of Uttarayan or Uttarayana Punyakalam and is a major celebration all over India. In Marathi culture, on Makar Sankranti day people exchange grains of multicolored sugar balls and fried til (sesame) mixed with molasses (til gul).

Bhogi - the day before Makar Sankranti - famous for Bhogichi bhaji

The day before Makar Sankranti is known as Bhogi in Maharashtra and is famous for a dish known as Bhogichi bhaji. Bhogi is dedicated Indra, the god of clouds and rain. He is worshipped for a good harvest and prosperity.
This dish celebrates the seasonal bounty of winter vegetables along with groundnuts and sesame seeds which provide the much needed warmth and nourishment to the body during winters.  
Bhogichi bhaji is packed with all essential nutrients and vitamins from seasonal vegetables like red carrots, fresh green chana (chola/chickpea/harbhara), flat green beans (Val Papdi) and Ber (Indian Jujube).
The bhaji is eaten along with Bhakri - a bread made using jowar or bajra.

How is Makar Sankranti Observed in Maharashtra?

Makar Sankranti is the season of the first sugarcane harvest in Maharashtra. The sugarcanes are ready to be made into fresh jaggery and this is reflected in the sweets distributed during the period.

In many regions in Maharashtra people wear black colored dress on Makar Sankranti day. As per Hindu customs and traditions, it is inauspicious to wear black but since it is winter black is worn on the day to keep the body warm.

A lot of importance is given to til (sesame seeds) due to the same reason. Sesame seeds (Til) are used to combat the cold in winter, as sesame contains oil which is healthy. This once again proves the wisdom of ancient Hindus who insisted on a particular type of food during a particular season.

So friends, relatives and neighbors exchange Til Gul on the day and say ‘til gud ghya, god god bola’ – let there be only friendship and good thoughts between us.

Each region in Maharashtra has a particular custom associated with Makar Sankranti and its roots can be traced to farming and the harvest season.

Another major highlight on the day is kite flying. During the season colorful kites dot the skies in the region.