Difference between Makar Sankranti and Pongal

Difference between Makar Sankranti and Pongal

About Indian Festivals

A land, where people from diverse religions, caste, sect, and ethnicity live in unison is India. Here, all the festivals are observed with lots of zeal and devotion preserving the essence of the auspicious fest. From the olden times up to now, the festivals are performed and celebrated according to the age-old rituals. 

Also, the way of celebrating the festivities remains constant generation after generation and no new variations in celebrations are invented to preserve the rich history of the festival.

These celebrations help in strengthening the bond of love, compassion, brotherhood, and togetherness. The dates of all the Hindu festivals are fixed as per the lunisolar positioning and hence the dates of the Hindu fests differ every year as mentioned in the Hindu calendar. Let us understand this better

About Hindu Calendars and Festivals

All the Hindu festivals and their respective dates are determined by the Hindu calendar which is based on the lunisolar movements. It compares the phases of the moon to the lunar months. The Hindu year begins with the festival of Makar Sankranti when the sun enters into the Capricorn sign.

The dates of the Makar Sankranti and Pongal are the same. These two festivals fall on the same date every year. Though both these festivals fall on the same date, the origin, the way of celebrations, festive delicacies, and like differ. Let us now understand the difference between both these festivals one by one. 

Difference between Pongal, and Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti

As mentioned above, Makar Sankranti according to the Hindu calendar falls first in the list of festivals. As the first celebration of the year, it is enjoyed with friends and family and is celebrated with fervor and joy.

This pious festival is different from other Hindu festivals as its dates are decided based on the solar cycle and not the lunisolar cycle. Also, on this day Lord Sun is revered and kites are flown high in the sky as an age-old tradition.

On this day, the planet Sun is said to enter the sun sign Capricorn and it marks the beginning of warm currents that is the season of summer.

On this auspicious occasion, a particular sweet dish known as ‘til ladoo’ is prepared. Til is nothing but sesame seeds which are roasted and mixed with jaggery and cardamom powder.

To enjoy this fiesta, friends, and family get together and enjoy the festivities. In many parts of the cities, families held a competition among the family members and friends wherein every member participates and tries to fly his kite higher ensuring its thread is not cut by other kites. The one whose kite is safe and flies high is declared the winner. 

Now that we have learned about Makar Sankranti, let us now delve into understanding what is Pongal and how it is observed?


Pongal, a festival that celebrates the harvest of agricultural produce or the yielding of crops. It is also a fiesta where people thank the Almighty for helping the crop grow and yield in abundance. Pongal is observed on a large scale in Tamil Nadu and other Southern parts of the country by people who belong to the Tamil ethnicity.

As we all know people of specific communities refer to the specific calendars that are designed for that community and which mention the festival dates of that particular community.

Similarly, the people of the Tamil community refer to Tamil Calendar according to which the first month is known as ‘Tai’ and Pongal is the number one festival that falls in this month on January 14th.

The festivities are observed for four days and each day marks different importance and gives a message and each day is addressed with a different name. 

The first day of this festival is called the Bhogi. One noticeable thing about this day is that it is a custom to get rid of old things that are not in use by throwing them in the fire and getting new things in their place.

The Bhogi Indra dev (Lord) is revered and prayed upon for showering sufficient rains to get better agricultural yields. On this day new clothes are worn by one and all.

The second day of this festival is known as  ‘Surya Pongal’. This is the most pivotal day in the four-day celebrations. On this day the Sun God is revered and a sweet dish is prepared by boiling milk, jaggery, and rice together. While boiling if the milk overflows and spills on the stove on this occasion is considered as auspicious. 

This sweet dish is also named after this festival that is ‘Pongal’. Once the sweet dish is prepared it is first offered to the deities as a ‘Naivedya’ (holy offering) and then enjoyed by family and friends.

The third day of the festival is called the Mattu. This day plays a significant role in the life of the castles as on this day they are bathed and decorated. Also, the cattle are worshipped for being the best companion of the farmer and for helping him to plow the field, and for giving milk.

On this special event, the deity idols are enthroned on an elevated seat of the palki (chariot) which is carried on shoulders by many people. This chariot is paraded throughout the area and then again installed in the temples.

Last but not the least, the fourth day of the festival is called Kanum. This is the day where the family gets together, eats together, and also gifts each other with valuable presents. 

We hope now you must have understood the difference between Pongal and Makar Sankranti. Though both these festivals fall on the same day one is performed for a single day while Pongal is a 4-day celebration.

Also, the celebrations performed and delicacies prepared differ. Both these festivals though may be celebrated differently altogether but the essence of these festivities remain the same.

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