eating sushi in india :: day 15 :: happy pongol and makar sankranti!

I take same route back to the guesthouse after yoga. This morning walk is one of my favorite parts of the day - the air is still cool but the sun is shining, there’s little traffic and I get to say good morning a variety of cows, street dogs, monkeys and sheep.

January 3, 2019 - One of the neighborhood streets in Golukam, near the Jois shalas.

January 3, 2019 - One of the neighborhood streets in Golukam, near the Jois shalas.

Many of the houses have elaborate designs, drawn in chalk, on the pavement in front of their gates. Today was the first day I noticed a few women drawing fresh ones in front of the homes. Most of those mandalas drawn in white chalk, but this one clued me in on what made today different - it’s a holiday here in southern India. Happy Makar Sankranti. Or Happy Pongol, if you prefer. Either way, it’s the harvest festival and also a day to celebrate the fact that the days are now getting longer.

January 15, 2019 - Happy Pongol and Makara Sankranti

January 15, 2019 - Happy Pongol and Makara Sankranti

January 15, 2019 - The process looks like finger painting. She was mixing water in a bowl filled with something that looks like chalk dust, then using her thumb to draw on the pavement.

January 15, 2019 - The process looks like finger painting. She was mixing water in a bowl filled with something that looks like chalk dust, then using her thumb to draw on the pavement.

The other thing I noticed is that all the cows were neon…yellow. Even my buddy at Depth ‘n Green.

Favorite photo of the Day.  January 15, 2019 - Party Cow! The Depth ‘n Green cow, freshly bathed in turmeric and wearing a garland. Hey, girl. Moo.

Favorite photo of the Day. January 15, 2019 - Party Cow! The Depth ‘n Green cow, freshly bathed in turmeric and wearing a garland. Hey, girl. Moo.

This little guy making 1st Main Road his runway was my favorite.

Nothing to see here. Just taking my elaborately dressed cows out for a midday walk.

I’m no expert - what I learned about the festival comes from a fast Google search and a conversation with a rickshaw driver. But from what I can tell, today is the second day of the festival and this is the day to thank cattle for all their gifts to people: for milk and fertilizer (thanks for that poop, Bessie!), for plowing fields and moving heavy things, and ultimately (after dying of natural causes at the end of a long, happy life) leather.

Cows are bathed with turmeric water, and that’s what turns any while or light colored parts of the cow an intense shade of yellow. Sometimes their horns are painted bright colors (I didn’t see this), and some wear ribbons and garlands of flowers. Many people honored the cows either by stopping to briefly and reverently touch them, or by leaving bowls of cooked rice and jaggery (unrefined sugar) in front of their homes as an offering for cows passing by.

January 15, 2019 - Kids with their festival-ready cow near the Devaraja Market.

January 15, 2019 - Kids with their festival-ready cow near the Devaraja Market.

Sources:
Wikipedia covers the details and description here. There are some regional differences Scroll down to Karnataka to learn more about how the festival is celebrated here.

This Times of India article on Makar Sanskranti 2019 and this one with decorating inspiration for the holiday.