The three-day Sankranti festival kicked off with fervour and gaiety across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday with the celebration of Bhogi on the first day.
This is major festival for Telugu people all over the globe, synonymous with fortune as it used to agricultural products used to reach homes by this time. This is the first Sankranti, the harvest festival, after Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh as a separate state.
Makar Sankranti also known by the name of Pongal in South India and Maghi in Punjab is among the most auspicious occasions celebrated by Hindus in all parts of India as well as Hindu communities such as Nepal and others. Towns and villages in both the Telugu states came alive with the festivities with people setting bonfires on the streets with agricultural and household waste.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced Sankranti as state festival and the government officially patronasing the festival. He himself participated in festival in his native village Naravaripalle, near Tirupati, with family members, relatives and party workers. All the people's representatives taking part in celebrations in their own constituencies.
The celebrations began in the early hours of the day with people cleaning their houses and burning old items with a belief that new things would usher into their lives. People gathered at street corners in the early hours of the day and lit up a Bhogi fire in which unwanted goods like old clothes, mats and broom sticks were burnt.
Men, women and children went around the bonfires with prayers. Some sang and danced.
Bhogi is also known as Indran and is celebrated in the honour of Indra, the Hindu god. Hindus worship Indra for good harvest and prosperity.
After thoroughly cleaning their houses, women set cow-dung balls called 'Gobbemma' and placed it among the rangoli patterns. They also put fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane. The houses were decorated with marigold flowers and mango leaves.'Haridasus' and 'Basvannas', the uniquely attired alm seekers with ornately decorated ox, made rounds of the villages.
The families, after offering prayers in temples, prepare various dishes, especially Pongal - made of rice and daal.Decoration of bulls, cock-fight, bull-fight and other rural sports mark the three-day festival.