Why do Til and Gur Play A Significant Role in Sankranti Celebrations

   |  Updated: January 08, 2018 17:53 IST

Why do Til and Gur Play A Significant Role in Sankranti Celebrations
  • Makar Sankranti is the harvest festival celebrated across India
  • Makar Sankranti celebrations are never complete without its delicacies
  • Sankranti celebrations may differ from household to household
If winters are here, can spring be far behind", the classic P.B Shelly line aptly sums the ethos of India's Makar Sankranti celebrations. Celebrated on 14th of January, Makar Sankranti is the harvest festival that is marked by suns' shift in position. Around 14th January, the sun enters Capricorn (Makar in Hindi and Sanskrit) and starts on its Northward journey, a transition called Uttarayan in Sanskrit. During the last quarter of the year, when the sun is travelling towards south, the crop harvesting takes a backseat because of limited sunlight and harsh weather conditions. Which is why when the sun embarks upon its journey to the north, it makes for a celebratory occasion for not just the agricultural community but for the entire country who had been struggling with the winter gloom.
till ladoo

Makar Sankranti celebrations coincides with many harvest festivals celebrated across the country during the same time with unique regional variations. Lohri in Punjab, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, and Bhogali Bihu in Assam, are all harvest festival that marks the significant shift in season that happens around this time.Like every festival in India, Makar Sankranti too has a host of signature delicacies prepared exclusively to celebrate the auspicious festival. If Diwali is incomplete without Kaju barfi, then no Makar Sankranti celebrations are ever complete without its round of til(sesame) and gur (jaggerydelicacies. In fact, til and gur are much more than just festive ingredients as they have a strong cultural and significant link with Sankranti celebrations. Comments'Til, gud ghya ni god god bola', is a common expression used to greet family and guests in Marathi households during Sankranti celebrations. The expression literally means "Eat til and gur and speak well." Til and gur are two of the most commonly consumed foods in winters. In the winter-y days preceding Sankranti, families prepare delicacies made of til and gur like, gajak, chikki and til ka laddoo. Their longer shelf life makes it possible to store the snacks for a long period of time. Since time immemorial, til and gur have played their significant role.Til and gur are also prized in Ayurveda as two of the most winter-perfect foods that helps to keep the body warm and also increases the immunity at the same time.The oil present in the sesame seeds helps generate body heat and keeps the internal body temperature from dipping. At the same time, jaggery's iron and vitamin C content has also been used as a traditional remedy for respiratory disorders and throat problems.

Sankranti celebrations may differ from household to household, community to community but til or gur preparations are something common to several Sankranti celebrations. Be it Maharashtra's Til Papdi,Tilcha ladoo, and Puran Poli, or Bengal's Patishapta,Moa(laddoos made of puffed rice and jaggery), Nolen Gure Payesh or the til revdis from Punjab and up north, the Sankranti feast is one lavish affair we can brave the harshest of winters for.

Here's to the spring that awaits, to the colourful kites and all the lovely festive treats. Here's wishing all of you a happy Makar Sankranti in advance!

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