As I said in my previous blog post, the festival season is back here in India right now!
Yesterday it was the Makar Sankranti festival here in Mumbai. Together with Lohri this is a festival that marks the winter solstice. It is interesting to read that this is a festival that has been celebrated for more than 6000 years! Also the old Maya indians (the indians not living in India) celebrated something similar to this. It is actually quite interesting to see the similarities between quite many of the Hindu rites, and those I have seen in ancient religions in places like Peru.
Most importantly this is a festival to celebrate that the sun is turning, and that the days will be longer. In Norway this day is at the 21st of December. But due to the fact that the earth is tilted it is celebrated in January here in India.
This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kunku’ (literally meaning turmeric and vermillion) and given gifts such as utensil, clothes etc. Typically, women wear black sarees or black coloured outfits on this occasion. The significance of wearing black is that Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and black color retains and absorbs heat, helping keep warm.
Another common way to celebrate this is to fly kites. Although my colleagues told me that this would not be too common in the residential areas of Mumbai. It seems to be more popular in the northern states like Punjab and Gujarat. I also remember that first time I visited India, I could see quite a few kids flying the kites in Delhi, and this was actually in August.
On Saturday I took a walk around in the area where I live. Unfortunately there was not much wind, so flying kites was almost impossible. Even at the Powai lake it was very calm air and no one flying the kites. But in the evening, my neighbor rang the door bell and offered me some traditional food! He said that they were celebrating and just asked if I also wanted some. This was off course very nice. Not really sure if the same would ever have happened in Norway…
Talk to you soon!