Makar Sankranti – Ghughutia


Also known as Ghughutia, Uttarayani, Makraini, Makrain, Gholda, Ghowla, Chunyatyar, Khichdi Sangrand, Pusyodiya, this festival is celebrated on the day of Makar Sankranti every year. 

According to the Hindu religious texts, on the day of Uttarayani, the sun enters the Zodiacal sign of 'Makar' (Capricon) from the Zodiacal sign of the Kark (Cancer), i.e. from this day onward the sun becomes 'Uttarayan' or it starts moving to the north. It is said that from this day, which signals a change of season, the migratory birds start returning to the hills. 

On the day of Ghughutiya (Makar Sankranti), people offer Khichadi (a mixture of pulses and rice) in charity, take ceremonial dips in holy rivers, participate in the Uttarayani fairs and celebrate the festival of Ghughutia or Kale Kauva. The Uttarayani fair of Bageshwar is very popular and is held every year with huge fanfare. During the festival of Kale Kauva (literal translation 'black crow') people make sweetmeats out of sweetened flour (flour and gur) deep fried in ghee, shape them like drums, pomegranates, knives, swords etc. They are strung together and worn as necklace-in the middle of which an orange in fixed.

Early in the morning children wear these necklaces and sing "Kale Kauva.." to attract crows and other birds and offer them portions of these necklaces, as a token of welcome for all the migratory birds, who are now coming back after their winter sojourn in the plains. Wearing garlands of the above eatables the children come out calling the crows with following song on their lips: Kale Kale, bhol bate ailebor puwa KhaleIe Kauva bara, mai ke de sunu gharoIe Kauva dhal, mai ke de sunu thai. (come dear crow, come dailyyou will enjoy eating bara and puwa.Take the bara and give me a pitcher full of gold Take the shield and give me a golden plate).

When is Ghughutia celebrated?

The position of the sun is significant in Ghughutia. The festival is celebrated during Makar Sankranti when the sun transmigrates from Hindu zodiac sign of Makar (Cancer) to Dhanu (Sagittarius). This also marks the beginning of the new month of Maagh in Hindu calendar. At this time and from this day onwards, the sun travels from south to north and hence the festival is also known as Uttaryan or Uttaryani. In Kumaon, the festival is celebrated as Ghughutia or Pusyodiya on the first day of Maagh month or the last day of Paush month. River Saryu located at Almora seems to be the indicator of the day of the celebration. The regions north of River Saryu celebrate the festival on the last day of Paush every year and hence it is known as Pusyodiya here.The regions to the south of Saryu River, i.e. the Kumaon region celebrate the festival on the first day of Maagh month, i.e. on Makar Sankranti. It is known as Ghughutia or Uttarayani here. The Uttarayani fair of Bageshwar is particularly famous. In Garhwal, the festival is known as Gholdiya or Ghwaul.

Mythology & History of Ghughutia

There are several legends about the origin of Ghughutia festival.

People also celebrate the festival to honour the crows who despite the extreme cold months don’t migrate like other birds and stay in the same place bearing the climate along with the people.

How is Ghughutiya celebrated?

Despite differences in the day of celebration and the name of the festival, there is not much difference in the way in which the festival is celebrated across Uttarakhand. Ghughut is the most important part of Ghughutia. Families prepare ghughut a day prior to the main festival and serve them to the crows early in the morning. Other delicious foods like puri, bade, puwe etc. are also cooked.

Ghughutia Celebration in Kumaon

Ghughut is prepared from flour kneaded with jaggery. The dough is made into different shapes and then deep fried. The most common shape resembles the Hindi letter 4 while shapes of drums, knives, swords, and pomegranates are also common. All the sweets are tied together and made into a garland. The number of garlands equals the number of children. On the day of the festival, the children wear the garland and feed the food to the crows early in the morning. The child who is able to feed the crow first is considered lucky. The remaining food is eaten by the children.

Ghugutia Celebration in Garhwal

lIn Garhwal, the food prepared is known as Gholdiya and the shape of the dough resembles Ghurad (Himalayan deer). The children pretend to kill Ghurads by tearing the food into small pieces and then eat them. The festival is also known as Chunya Tyar in some regions. On this day, people prepare a special dish known as Chunya by blending rice, lentils, millets, and other seven types of crops. On this day they also prepare Urad khichdi and eat them after serving to the brahmins. That’s why the festival is also known as Khichdi Tyar in this region.

Celebration in Johar Region

In Johar region, Ghughutia is celebrated on the night before the main day of the festival. The ancestors are offered local liquor (jaang), new clothes, and foods.

Celebration in Dharchula Region

The regions of Dharchula tehsil used to celebrate this festival as Mandal Tyar where a big fair was held at Mandal. People cleaned their homes and polished with cow dung. They stuck wheatgrass coated with cow dung at the ends and worshipped using rice and sandals, in their rooms. The people bathed at the hot water spring of Tapovan and brought Bael and leaves from the place. Delicious foods along with dat bhaat, puri, etc. were prepared. The festival was celebrated with a great feast including music and dance.

Posted by: eUttaranchal/ Bhupendra Kunwar
Makar Sankranti – Ghughutia Photo
Makar Sankranti – Ghughutia
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