Ghughutia: Of Crows, Sweetmeat Garlands, Khichdi and the Uttarayani Fair

ghughutia of crows sweetmeat garlands khichdi and the uttarayani fair

Talking in an innocent cacophony with the black bird, running around, wearing garlands of sweetmeats of different shapes and patterns threaded together—this is a day of frolicking and feasting for the children of the household. Meanwhile, the elders rummage through kitchen shelves, finding ingredients to add to the traditional palate.

When you are enveloped in the heady aroma of khichdi prepared in an excess of ghee and shakkarpare sweetened with gur, you know it is indeed January 14, marked by the transmigration of the sun from the zodiac sign of Cancer (Makar) to Sagittarius (Dhanu).

Read: Makar Sankranti: India’s Universal Festival

The festival of Makar Sankranti is an auspicious and important celebration throughout India. It is also referred to as the ‘Ghee Festival’ in some parts of the state. The biggest celebration of the Kumaon region, Makar Sankranti is called ‘Ghughutia’ in Kumaon, ‘Khichdi Sankrant’ or ‘Gholdiya’ in the Garhwal region, and is commonly known as ‘Uttarayani’ all over Uttarakhand. A strangely beautiful celebration, Ghughutia is highlighted by the presence of children and black birds. With children singing folk songs addressed to crows, January 14 in a typical Uttarakhand household unfolds with the kids waking up in the morning and greeting the black birds on the rooftop with sweetmeats and other delicacies. This unique festival places the focus on crows, and seek the blessings of the bird which is believed to be a good omen on this day.

Read: Bucket List: Decoding Indian Desserts

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