Andhra Pradesh celebrates Bhogi with gaiety
Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival, began Monday across Andhra Pradesh as people celebrated Bhogi - first day of the three-day festivity - with gaiety and religious fervour.
Bhogi, also known as Indran, is celebrated in the honour of Indra, the Hindu god of clouds and rains. Hindus worship Indra for good harvest and prosperity.
Towns and villages came alive with people setting bonfires on the streets with agricultural and household waste.
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.
Bonfires were seen on streets in every town and village, with people burning unwanted goods like old clothes, mats and broom sticks.
Men, women and children go around the bonfires with prayers. Some sing and dance.
Villages, especially in the fertile coastal Andhra region, wore festive look with women decorating the entrance with intricate rangoli designs and men, mostly youngsters, took to kite flying.
'Haridasus' and 'Basvannas', the uniquely attired alm seekers with ornately decorated ox, made rounds of the villages.
After thoroughly cleaning their houses, women set cow-dung balls called as 'Gobbemma' and placed among the rangoli patterns. They also put fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane.
The houses were decorated with marigold flowers and mango leaves.
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.
Despite the ban on cock-fight, hundreds of people including politicians and businessmen bet crores of rupees on them.
Though police impose curbs in many towns and villages in coastal Andhra, people organised cock-fight, saying it is part of their culture.
The festival provides an opportunity for people settled in Hyderabad and other cities to visit their roots.
The state capital wore a deserted look as thousands of families left for their villages in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema for the festival.
(Posted on 13-01-2014)