Telangana shadow over Makar Sankranti celebrations in Andhra
Harvest festival Makar Sankranti was celebrated across Andhra Pradesh with fervour and gaiety Tuesday though the Telangana issue had an impact on the festivities.
The countryside wore a festive look with houses being decorated, kite flying, cockfights, bull-fights and other rural sports. Farmers decorated their bullocks for their contribution to the harvest.
The Bhogi fire was lit in several parts of the state for the second day Tuesday as confusion prevailed over the exact date of Sankranti.
The festivities this time are spread over three days with the celebration of Bhogi on the first day and Sankranti after that.
According to the government calendar Sankranti falls on Jan 14 but as per the calendar prepared by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) the festival will be celebrated Jan 15.
For the second day, people lit bonfires on the streets with agricultural and household waste in the belief that this will bring them new things.
As part of the ritual men, women and children went around the bonfire singing traditional songs.
Meanwhile, for the second consecutive day, copies of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013 were burnt in the Bhogi fire in Seemandhra as Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra are together known.
Those opposing the formation of Telangana state threw copies of the bill into the bonfire at various places.
State Infrastructure Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao and other Congress leaders burnt the bill copies in Visakhapatnam to oppose the state's bifurcation.
"The bill copies are being burnt as the bill is drafted against public opinion," said the minister.
However, in most of the villages women made colourful 'muggu' or 'rangoli' (colourful patterns) in front of their houses with cow dung, flowers and mango leaves. They prepared 'chakkara pongal' or rice kheer, a special dish made of new rice, jaggery and milk. The dish is allowed to boil over which symbolises abundance.
In Hyderabad and other towns, the sky was dotted with colourful kites. Popular Hindi and Telugu chartbusters blared from speakers as youngsters flew the kites from rooftops.
But in Telangana the demand for a separate state reflected in the celebrations. In Karimnagar, Nizamabad and other districts, women put 'Rangoli' in front of their houses with the slogan of 'Jai Telangana'.
Telangana supporters set afire an effigy of Seemandhra employees' leader P. Ashok Babu to condemn his burning of the Telangana bill.
The bill, sent to the state assembly last month by President Pranab Mukherjee for its opinion, is being debated in the House.
(Posted on 14-01-2014)