With the arrival of the January chills comes the winter harvest festivals celebrated by various communities that mark the end of winter and the onset of spring.
These festivals, rooted in cultural traditions, bring people together in a joyous celebration of abundance and gratitude.
Here’s a glimpse into the diverse harvest celebrations that grace the capital city during this auspicious month.
Makar Sankranti – Kites and Sweets: Observed on January 14, is a significant harvest festival celebrated by North and East Indians. Delhi skies come alive with a kaleidoscope of kites. Families gather on rooftops, relishing traditional sweets like sesame and jaggery delicacies. The spirit of friendly kite-flying competitions adds an exhilarating touch to this joyous occasion.
Some of the popular sweet shops in Old Delhi have a variety of winter delicacies to offer that suit the occasion. From chikkis and pattis to ladoos and gajjaks – shops like Meerut Wale Surendra Kumar Sanjay Kumar Jain and Lala Ram Kishan Das & Sons holds a treasure of sesame.
Pongal – Tamil Traditions in Delhi: Predominantly celebrated by the Tamil community, it is typically observed from January 15 – 18. The festival revolves around the preparation of Pongal, a delectable dish made with freshly harvested rice. Delhi’s Tamil residents come together in temples, homes, and cultural centers, creating a festive atmosphere with traditional music, dance, and vibrant kolam decorations. People celebrate Mattu Pongal on January 17, and the final day, Kaanum Pongal, is on January 18.
Restaurants like Saravana Bhawan, Naivedyam, Zambar, and the Tamil Nadu House lay out Pongal-special spread.
Lohri – Bonfires and Bhangra Beats: Lohri is a predominantly Punjabi harvest festival that Delhiites of various backgrounds enthusiastically participate in. The beating of dhol drums, the crackling of bonfires, and the infectious energy of Bhangra dance performances create an electrifying ambiance.
It is usually celebrated by friends and families outdoor in their neighbourhoods. People usually gather around bonfires, tossing sesame seeds, sugarcane, and popcorn into the flames as they sing and dance to the tunes of joy.
Magh Bihu – Assamese Essence in Delhi: Magh Bihu, celebrated by the Assamese community, marks the end of the harvest season in the northeastern state. The traditional feasts, cultural performances, and the lighting of meji (bonfires) take over the ambience in Assamese households.
The aroma of traditional delicacies like pithas and laru fills the air, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere that showcases the rich cultural diversity of Delhi. One can enjoy these Assamese dishes that are only available during Magh Bihu at places like Assam Food Stall in Dilli Haat and Oh! Assam in Humayunpur.