Hyderabad, Jan 14 People in the Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on Saturday celebrated ‘Makar Sankranti’, the colourful harvest festival, with pomp and gaiety.
On the second day of the three-day festival, the countryside in both the states wore a festive look with decorated houses, kite flying, cockfights, bull fights and other sports.
Villages in both the states came alive on Sankranti, considered one of the major festivals. The day began with men, women and children attired in their best offering prayers at temples.
It was time for the families to take a break and come together in their native towns and villages. People from different parts of the country and even abroad joined their near and dear ones for the festival.
Lakhs of people from Hyderabad left for their homes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for the celebrations, leaving the city’s roads almost deserted.
Authorities operated hundreds of special buses and special trains from Hyderabad to various destinations in the two states over last couple of days to clear the festival rush.
For the children of those settled in cities and abroad, it is an occasion to have a feel of life in the countryside. They visit the fields and participate in various rural sports.
The houses were decorated with marigold flowers and mango leaves.
Women decked the front yard of their houses with Rangoli. They made cow dung balls called ‘Gobbemma’ and placed them among the Rangoli patterns and also put portions of the fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane.
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 in both the states, the sky was dotted with colourful kites. Popular Hindi and Telugu chartbusters blared from speakers as youngsters flew the kites from rooftops.
‘Haridasus’ and ‘Basvannas’, the uniquely attired alm-seekers with ornately decorated oxen, made the rounds of villages to seek alms.
The farmers decorated their bullocks and worshipped them for their contribution to the harvest.
For the second consecutive day, cock fights were organised at several places in the two states despite court orders banning them.
The bloody sport was organised openly on a large scale in Krishna, East Godavari and West Godavari districts, where punters bet crores of rupees on roosters.
MPs, MLAs and other leaders inaugurated the cock fights at a few places. They claimed that it is part of Telugu culture and Sankranti is incomplete without the cock fights.
Police said they were acting against those tying knives to roosters for the fight and those resorting to betting or other illegal activities.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu celebrated Sankranti with his family at his native Naravaripalle village in Chittoor district. He received blessings from Tirumala temple priests.
Naidu and his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao and governor of the two states E. S. L. Narasimhan greeted people on the occasion.