Thousands throng River Ganga on Makar Sankranti
Kolkata: Thousands of people took a holy dip in river Hooghly to observe Makar Sankranti on Thursday. Elaborate police arrangements were made in different ghats in Kolkata and Howrah. River police conducted special patrolling at the ghats.
People gathered at the ghats from early morning. They started taking a dip from 8.28 am, which was considered to be the auspicious time. Women blew conch shells. Special pujas were performed at various temples in Kolkata.
The police kept divers and boats ready to rescue people in case of any accident. Many pilgrims, who left for Gangasagar in the afternoon, also took a holy dip in river Hooghly. Along with police, there were volunteers from different NGOs who ensured that the pilgrims maintained physical distance and followed other COVID-19 protocol. Some NGOs distributed masks and sanitisers among the pilgrims, who were on their way to Gangasagar.
Revellers have been flying kites on the day of Makar Sankranti in Hooghly and Howrah since centuries. Though the number of kite flyers has gone down drastically over the years, young people were seen flying kites to keep the tradition alive. Earlier, the rich people used to tag currency notes with the kites. Richer the zamindar was, the higher was the amount of currency notes. Kite flying competitions were held in different areas of Hooghly.
Kites were brought to Kolkata by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, who came to Lucknow and settled down in Metiabruz. He brought people who could make kites from Lucknow. Over the years, the Bengali aristocrats picked up the habit and it soon spread to entire Bengal including the eastern Bengal.
In Hooghly tradition was borrowed from the French. The revellers prepared pitha (rice cakes) to celebrate Makar Sankranti. While some prepared pithas at home, others got it delivered at home
from shops. Pongal was observed with due solemnity by the Tamils in the city. A function was organised at Tyagraja hall to
mark the occasion. The participants followed the COVID-19 protocol.