Makar Sankranti - For some it can be the last celebration of cooler climes that will return next year and for others it means the beginning of warmer times they have been waiting for.
The festival of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan, which falls on January 14 each year, marks the end of a long winter and the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere. Like every festival it is also a time to eat and make merry with family and friends.
Cooking only under adult supervision.
While it is celebrated all over India in different ways with the famous til-poli and til-gul in Maharashtra, as Pongal in the southern part of India, where a fulsome meal of lentils and rice liberally dashed with ghee is partaken after offering it to the Gods. In Punjab, the festival is celebrated as Lohri, where the end of a cold winter is marked with huge bonfires liberally fed with handfuls of til sweets, rice and sugarcane. In Uttar Pradesh, the festival is called Khichedi after an eponymous dish, a typical rice and lentil preparation that is made on this day.
In the states of Gujrat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, the skies turn colourful with kites during Sankranti. But now there are growing concerns as many young people injure themselves with the sharp thread that is traditionally used to fly the kite and even fall off high terraces and roofs as they try to fly them higher and higher.
Those who care for animals and birds also caution against the use of sharp threads to fly kites as they get entangled with birds in the air and injure them gravely causing them to fall and die.
Since kites are an integral part of Makar Sankranti, here are some other ways to celebrate with kites and spend some quality time with your little ones keeping the spirit of the day alive.
Draw a kite on a piece of cardboard and cut it out. Then draw eyes, nose, and mouth on it. Take coloured paper and cut little clusters, which can be stuck on the kite board, in patterns you like. Now cut out various ribbons from coloured paper or take regular ribbons and paste them on the sides of the kite, so they resemble tassels. Make a tail and add coloured bows. You can use the stamp set to decorate it. You can write a greeting of your choice too. Finally, stick the kite on a skewer with glue or tape on the backside and display it.
1 cup Sesame seeds (Til)
1 cup jaggery
1 tsp (Ghee)
Apply some ghee to a steel plate and keep aside.
Clean and dry roast sesame seeds on medium flame, till they turn slightly brown (for 3-4 min) and keep aside. If you are using black til, wait till you can smell the aroma.
Heat a heavy bottom pan on medium flame and add the jaggery.
Keep stirring to avoid burning
When jaggery starts bubbling, turn the flame to low, and stir in the ghee.
Add roasted sesame seeds, and mix it very well.
Turn off the heat.
Tip the mixture in the greased plate quickly, and smooth
Cool for 5 min, and mark into squares with a knife. Let it stand for 20-30 min or till it cools completely.
Break along the knife marks.
Enjoy the Til-Gul Patti or sesame brittle.
You can let your little master chef don their apron and help you break the brittle into pieces and serve it to friends and family. Take precautions with children and do not allow children near any flame or hot food stuff.
Enjoy the festival your own way and start your own traditions to make it meaningful for your family.