Makar Sankranti Day, is celebrated on 15th January every year. Bangaloreans greet each other by saying Yellu Bella Thindu Sihi Matu Matadi!” ( Eat sesame seeds and jaggery and talk sweetly ). In fact, this harvest festival is celebrated with much gaiety and enthusiasm. It is a festival which is considered as the beginning of a very auspicious phase in the Hindu calendar and is called “Pongal’ as well. In other words, Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi, ( Capricorn) on its celestial path. In fact, the day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India. Above all, it is a traditional event. For instance, the Sun God is worshipped for the bountiful harvest.
A similar festival called Lohri is celebrated in North India.
A special preparation of Yellu (till, sesame ), Bella (Jaggery), roasted groundnuts, dry copra(coconut) chips and roasted Chana(Bengal gram ) dal is made on this day. It is distributed to friends and relatives, along with sugar candies and pieces of sugar cane. Above all, it is symbolic of building strong relationships.
As in any festival, shopping is a big part of the celebrations. People shop for new clothes, utensils and gifts. Though many shopping malls have sprung up in Bengaluru, old shopping areas like Chickpet, Balepet, M.G Road, Commercial street and Brigade Road are still favourites with the shoppers. During this season several shops offer discount on products .“Priyadarshini” the Govt. owned shop, is one such shop. “Co-Optex”- the Tamilnadu Govt. enterprise also declares a 30+ % discount on several of its products. Both enterprises are known for their wide variety of silk cotton sarees and home furnishings. Further, they have several stores throughout Bengaluru.
Marathahalli is famous for its factory outlets. The retail shops in this area are mainly on Varthur Road where clothes and accessories are available at very reasonable prices. Brigade Road is popular with youngsters. All branded showrooms are on the main road and at several small shopping arcades located in this road . Commercial Street is another popular destination for branded and designer clothes.” Cinnamon”, on Gangadhar Chetty Road is a luxury shop, known for its pretty clothes, accessories, costume silver jewellery, crockery and cutlery.
“Psybaba” on Castle Road is another popular destination, known for a wide range of items.Batik, Tie and Dye fabrics and garments, Camel bone jewellery, leather jackets, purses, belts, wrist watches, belts, carpets and furnishings are popular here.
Giving away small gifts is the custom during this festival. For example plastic ,steel or ceramic containers are typical gifts .This is for prosperity. Similar items can be found in old areas like Gandhi Bazar, Malleshwaram and Avenue Road .Malleswaram ‘s 8th Cross to 11th Cross Roads are particularly famous for these items . Further, you can also get fresh flowers for decorative purposes.
Now for the famous restaurants. South Indian restaurants on Infantry Road and in Indiranagar offer a very special menu . Sweet and khara Pongal,( special rice preparations ), payasam ( sweetened milk), along with a wide range of special South Indian curries are popular. They are truly representative of the harvest feast. “Mast Kalandar “ is a Punjabi style food restaurant that offers special food for “Lohri”. Dal Makhani, Lachha Paratha, Sarson ka Saag and makki ki roti, sweet lassi and hot Gulab Jamuns are popular. “Halli Mane “(Village House) has typical Bengaluru style traditional dishes on offer this day. If you happen to be in Bengaluru on this day, do visit this restaurant.
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