Trivia Thursday: Indian Festivals On Makar Sankranti

Trivia Thursday: Indian Festivals On Makar Sankranti

Happy Makar Sankranti everyone! In this week’s Trivia Thursday let us take a look at different types of festivals celebrated around India on the day of Makar Sankranti.

Crux of the Matter

In this week’s Trivia Thursday, let us have a look at the festivals celebrated around India on 14th January.

Makar Sankranti
It is a festival in the Hindu calendar dedicated to the deity Surya (Sun). It marks the first day of the sun’s transit into Makara rashi (Capricorn).

Because the festival follows the solar cycle, unlike other festivals in Hindu culture which follow the lunar cycle, Makar Sankranti almost always falls on the same Gregorian date every year (January 14/15), except in some years when the date shifts by a day
for that year.


  • The term Uttarayan is derived from two different Sanskrit words: “uttara” (North) + “ayana” (movement).
  • Thus it indicates a semantic of the northward movement of the Earth.
  • Uttarayana is referred to as the day of a new good healthy wealthy beginning.
  • In Mahabharata, according to Kauravas and Pandavas, on this day Bheeshma Pitamaha, chose to leave for his heavenly abode.
  • Kite flying during Uttarayana has been a regional event in Gujarat for several years.
  •  In 2012, the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat mentioned that the International Kite Festival in Gujarat was attempting to enter the Guinness World Records due to the participation of 42 countries in it that year.


  • Pongal is a multi-day Hindu harvest festival of South India, particularly in the Tamil community. 
  • The festival is named after the ceremonial “Pongal”, which means “to boil, overflow” and refers to the traditional dish prepared from the new harvest of rice boiled in milk with jaggery.
  • The three days of the Pongal festival are called: Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal, Maattu Pongal.
  • Some Tamils celebrate a fourth day of Pongal as Kanum Pongal.


  • Lohri is a popular Punjabi winter folk festival celebrated primarily in the Punjab region.
  • Lohri marks the end of winter and is a traditional welcome of longer days and the sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere
  • According to folklore, in ancient times Lohri was celebrated at the end of the traditional month when winter solstice occurs.
  • It celebrates the days getting longer as the sun proceeds on its northward journey.
  • The day after Lohri is celebrated as Maghi Sangrand.
  • Lohri songs mention the Indian Sun god asking for heat and thanking him for his return. Other legends explain the celebration as a folk reverence for fire (Agni) or the goddess of Lohri.
  • Some people believe that Lohri has derived its name from Loi, the wife of Saint Kabir. Another legend amongst some people is that Lohri comes from the word ‘loh‘, which means the light and the warmth of fire. Lohri is also called lohi in rural Punjab.

Take a look at our last week’s Trivia Thursday here: Extraterrestrial Life

Makar Sankranti Cockfighting Tradition In Andhra

Makar Sankranti Cockfighting Tradition In Andhra

With Andhra Pradesh police increasing its patrol near Makar Sankranti, let us look at the tradition of cockfighting in the state, what occurs differently there, and the legends associated with it.

Crux of the Matter

Recent News
Andhra Pradesh police recently seized 482 knives. These knives are tied to cocks’ feet in cockfighting popular in the state.

Cockfight is a “blood sport” between two roosters (cocks). The fight goes on till one of them dies or gets critically injured.

Kodi Pandalu In Andhra
The 3-days Sankranti period is celebrated by cockfighting in Andhra Pradesh known as Kodi Pandalu. It has been famously called “illegal Super Bowl’” of India by The Washington Post.

Cockfighting is illegal in India, yet mass attendances are recorded in Andhra, with people from all over India as well as NRIs visiting. It is also attended and funded reportedly by politicians across all political spectrum.

Makar Sankranti

  • Makar Sankranti – the first day of the sun transitioning into the sun sign Capricorn (Makara).
  • Also celebrated as harvest festival – kites flown in several Indian states.


  • Birds are trained for weeks.
  • Large bets are placed on roosters in the event.
  • Knife tied to roosters’ leg – renders fight more vicious.
  • Losing rooster traditionally taken by the winner’s owner for consumption.
  • Cockfighting betting said to generate ₹2000 crore transaction (2019).
  • Enormous arenas are built for the event – but also done in fields if required.

Guiding Text

  • Kukkuta Sastra is a text widely claimed to be followed for cockfighting.
  • It reportedly guides regarding astrology of betting, nurturing and classification of chickens, horoscope of chicken etc. for a favourable result in the fight.

Associated Legend
Cockfighting was reportedly popularized in the state by the ‘battle of Palnadu’ (between 1178 and 1182 AD) between King Nalagamaraju and his stepbrother Malidevaraju.

2 accounts of the battle are reported:

  • Malidevaraju was sent to exile after losing in cockfighting to the King (similar to the dice game in Mahabharata). This sparked the animosity which ended in the war
  • The other account is that cockfighting was the ‘decider’ of the battle between the two.
  • The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). Since 2004, the game has been played on the first Sunday in February. The Super Bowl is the second-largest day for US food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day. In addition, the Super Bowl has frequently been the most-watched American television broadcast of the year.
  • A blood sport is a category of sport or entertainment that involves bloodshed. Activities characterized as blood sports but involving only human participants, including the Ancient Roman gladiatorial games.
  • Cockfighting is an ancient spectator sport. There is evidence that cockfighting was a pastime in the Indus Valley Civilization. Based on his analysis of a Mohenjo-Daro seal, Iravatham Mahadevan speculates that the city’s ancient name could have been Kukkutarma (“the city of the cockerel [kukkuta]”).