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Harvest Traditions You May Not Know

15 January, 2018

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It's that time of the year again when many parts of the country witness the harvest festivals. There are many such colorful, and vibrant festivals celebrated across India as per traditions of the region. Few are common across while a few are specific to the area. One thing in common, though, is the fact that people, enjoy, celebrate, pray, eat, and make merry. Let's take a look a few of these.

Makar Sankranthi
Many states across India celebrate this harvest festival but in different ways. This is said to be the time when an auspicious phase starts and mostly always falls on the 14th January. The Punjabis call it as Baisakhi, Bihu in Assamese, Pongal by Tamilians, Pedda Panduga by Telguites, and Sukarat by Central Indians. Typically, it denotes the arrival of longer days after the gloomy long winter nights. By this time, the hard work in the fields is mostly over, and people celebrate.

In the north, the people take a dip in the holy rivers and pray to the sun for prosperity. Kumbh Mela happens on this occasion. In the states of Andhra, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated across four days. Cattle are worshipped as part of the festival. The Assamese mark this by dance, and bonfires. In Bihar, Himachal, and Jharkhand, a special dish Khichdi is prepared as part of the festivities. In Delhi and Haryana, brothers gift their sisters on this occasion.

The Gujaratis call it as the Uttarayan and fly colorful kites to ring in the festivities. The people of Rajasthan too fly kites on this occasion. In Karnataka, people eat "Ellu Bella," which is sesame seeds and jaggery and cattle are decorated and taken in procession. In Kerala, the Sankranthi is marked by the makaravilaku celebrations at Sabarimala, the famous Lord Ayyappa. In Maharastra, people exchange sweets made of til and jaggery, while in Uttarakhand, they have ‘kale kauva' (black crow) festival, wherein they feed these birds. Punjabis mark it with Bhangra, while in Orissa they offer the new harvest to the gods. People of Uttar Pradesh bathe in a holy river, fast and then prepare delicacies, and also fly kites. Bengalis celebrate this festival across three days and worship goddess Lakshmi.

Mostly, what is common across all states is that people pray, participate in a lot of festivities, prepare, eat and exchange lots of delicacies, and thank the gods for a good harvest.

Ladakh Harvest festival
This is a colorful festival that marks the harvest season of Ladakh. The Buddhist culture is ingrained in this, and all the monasteries and stupas are decorated, and many cultural activities are organized. This is a tourist draw in this region.​
Lohri is a Punjabi harvest festival celebrated one day before Sankranthi. Usually, a big bonfire is lit, and the whole family gets together to sing and dance.

Wangala is a very famous harvest festival celebrated in the states of Meghalaya and Assam. The people of the Garo tribe celebrate this with enthusiasm and zeal and worship sun god by beating 100 drums and women dancing in their traditional attire.

This is an age-old harvest festival of Orissa. The word means new food, and it is made to welcome the auspicious time ahead.

Ka Pomblang Nongkrem
A famous dance festival of Meghalaya that is undertaken to revel in the good harvest, celebrated by the people of Khasi Hills. Animal sacrifice and traditional dancing are part of the festivities.

Basant Panchami
Another spring festival that is associated with harvest and signifies the arrival of spring. People worship goddess Saraswathi, and this festival is mostly associated with the lush yellow mustard fields. People also wear yellow attires and flower garlands.


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