MUMBAI: Shop shelves are lined withtil gud, sweets made from sesame and jaggery, in celebration of Monday’s festival ofMakar Sankranti. This day of Uttarayan is when the sun enters theTropic of Capricorn. The sharp chill of winter begins to ebb from now onward.
The occasion marks the start of the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, which was until recently Allahabad.
Kite flying is an important ritual of Sankranti, although the lack of open spaces and compounds in redeveloped housing societies, loose overhead cables and concern for injured birds has truncated this pastime.
Despite this being an election year, the erstwhile ubiquitous Modi kites are absent from the skyline.
Abdul Rehman Khan, among the largest kite manufacturers of Mumbai, says, “The kite festival is largely celebrated in Gujarat, and in that state, these emblems are doing well. But Mumbaikars are not fans of political symbolism. Plus the public mood has changed from 2014-2015. We had a limited stock of Modi kites which was exhausted by January 1.”
Various communities celebrate by lighting bonfires, with the Punjabis having enjoyed Lohri festivities the night before. In Andheri West, the Punjabi Culture and Heritage Board led by Congressman Charan Singh Sapra organised a star-studded Lohri with newlywed actor Kapil Sharma and his wife Saturday.
“This is the only festival when it is considered auspicious to wear black. Shops in Maharashtrian enclaves like Dadar prominently display black saris in their display windows. The ones with small golden embroidered flowers are my favourite,” said local resident Manjusha Phadke.