Makara Sankranti festival coincides with the beginning of the sun's northward journey, and falls on January 14 according to the solar calendar. According to legend, Bhishma, a great hero of the Mahabharata, though wounded mortally, waited for this auspicious time to give up his life. For, it is believed that, a person dying on this day reaches the Abode of Light and Eternal Bliss.
In many states, the celebration has a special offering of rice and pulses cooked together with or without jaggery and clarified butter. In many areas of India people distribute til-gud - the sesame seed and jaggery. The til brimming with fragrant and delicious oil, stands for friendship and comradeship and jaggery for the sweetness of speech and behavior.
In Tamil Nadu, Makara Sankranti is celebrated as Pongal, a three-day harvest festival. On Bhogi Pongal, the house is cleaned and the discards are burnt, while children sing and dance around the bonfire. On Surya Pongal, sweet Pongal is prepared and the Sun God is worshipped for a good yearly harvest. The last day of Pongal, Mattu Pongal, is celebrated to pay respects to the cows, the animal that is used in cultivation.
In Uttar Pradesh, it is called the Khichri Sankranti.
In Gujarat, there is a custom of making gifts to near relatives on this day.
Makara Sankranti bears a festive occasion for the people of Rajasthan. Kite Festivals are organized on Makara Sankranti. Kite flyers from all over the world participate in the festival.