These are the reasons India is celebrating this month.
It’s the beginning of a new year and a new decade. As we embark on yet another trip around the sun, we also begin a new round of festivities. Of course a lot of our celebrations this year is bound to be muted due to the COVID-19 pandemic (albeit the Magh Mela and Kumbh Mela may be exceptions to this rule) but this doesn’t mean you cant celebrate on a small scale or, indeed, at your home with your family.
Lohri: January 13
Celebrated in north India as the sun enters the tropic of Capricorn, Lohri is celebrated by lighting bonfire. Fire is said to be a symbol of fertility and good luck, which also makes it an important festival for a newlywed couple as well as new-borns.
Pongal: January 13 to January 16
The harvest festival is celebrated across India, albeit with different names. In the north it is called Lohri, in the southern states, it’s called Pongal. On this day, farmers thank the gods for a good harvest. An important part of the festival is the cooking of Pongal, a dish made of rice and boiled milk.
Makar Sankrant, Uttarayan, and Magh Bihu: January 14
What is Lohri in the north and Pongal in the south, is Makar Sankrant in Maharashtra, Uttarayan in Gujarat and Magh Bihu in Assam. The day is celebrated as a harvest festival and people exchange sweets made from sesame seeds. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, celebrations include kite flying and Gujarat also hosts an international kite-flying festival. This year the festival will be held between January 7 and January 13
Magh Mela: January 14 to March 11
The Magh Mela, also known as the Mini Kumbh Mela will take place this month in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad). The Magh Mela that takes place at the confluence of the rivers Yamuna, Ganga and the mythical Saraswati in Prayagraj becomes the Maha Kumbh Mela once every 12 years. This year, the Magh Mela will start on Makar Sankranti (January 14) and will continue till Mahashivratri (March 11). Aside from the two days the other important days for Magh Mela will be Poush Purnima (January 28), Mauni Amavasya (February 11), Basant Panchami (February 16), and Maghi Purnima (February 27). These are auspicious days when devotees and holy men take a dip in the confluence.
Kumbh Mela: January 14 to April 27
The Kumbh Mela shifts to Haridwar this year. The congregation of Hindy holy men and devotees will take a dip in the Ganga at different days through the duration of the festival.
Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti: January 20
The birth anniversary of the tenth and last guru of the Sikh religion, Gobind Singh typically falls during December or January. Thus year the festival falls on January 20. It will be a bank holiday in states like Punjab.
Republic Day: January 26
Republic Day in India will be celebrated per tradition with a spectacular parade in New Delhi along Rajpath. The parade features all the three divisions of the Indian armed forces that showcase their strengths and includes floats from different states and a spectacular fly past.