You can call the festival as Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Lohri. The Purana’s say that on this day Sun visits the house of his son Shani, who is the swami of Makar Rashi. This day symbolizes the healthy relationship of father & son. It is the son who has the responsibility to carry forward his fathers dream and the continuity of the family.
It was on this day when Lord Vishnu ended the ever increasing terror of the Asuras by finishing them off and burying their heads under the Mandara Parvata (Mountain). So this occasion also represents the end of negative and beginning of an era of righteous living.This festival is also called as Harvest Festival.
According to the lunar calendar, when the sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn or from Dakshinayana to Uttarayana, in the month of Poush in mid-January, it commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the earth from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makar , this occasion is named as Makar Sankranti in the Indian context.
In the districts of Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sundargarh where the tribal population is more than 40%; the festival is celebrated with great joy and merriment. They have been celebrating this festival with great enthusiasm. Moreover, the time of the festival is best suited for them as all agricultural operations are over by that time and each family possess something after the harvest. Preparation for the festival starts much earlier. All the houses are cleaned and neatly plastered. They are painted with three colours viz. White, red and black. New clothes are worn by young and the old alike. Sweet cakes and a meal with meat-curry is a must in every household. Liquor is freely consumed by men and women. They sing and dance and enjoy life for about a week.
Young girls of certain communities mostly Kudumi, Bastiti, Rajual etc. worship ‘Tushu’, a female deity and immerse it in the river or tank singing songs of a special variety. In the temple of Lord Jagannath this festival is observed as ‘Uttarayana Yatra’.
Uniqueness of mayurbhanj is when whole Odisha celebrate Ravan podi in Dashera but this district celebrate Ravan podi in Makar Sankranti. The significance of Makar Sankranti is that it is the time to remind yourself that celebrating movement is possible only when there is a taste of stillness within you.
Source: OdiaOnline & OdishaDiary