Makar Sankranti 2023: 7 Traditional Sweets Eaten Around India

The year has only just begun, but already, India’s in a festive mood and that’s because Makar Sankranti is just around the corner. This Hindu festival marks the celestial movement of the sun from the zodiac of Sagittarius (dhanu) to Capricorn (makara) according to the traditional Hindu calendar. The festival is dedicated to the sun deity, Surya and this year falls on the 14th of January. 

It’s celebrated with joy, kite-flying and of course a lot of food in states across India. In Tamil Nadu, it’s known as Pongal, Punjab calls it Lohri, Assam knows it as Magh Bihu and many more. But the underlying emotion is the celebration of the end of winter and new beginnings and like any true Indian festival, that means sweets galore! Here are a few regional delicacies from around the country that people will be enjoying.

Til Gud Laddoos - Maharashtra 

Sesame seeds and gud are staples of the festival in the western part of India and laddoos mae from these ingredients are often found during the celebration. They are exchanged as tokens of goodwill along with the saying “til-gud ghyaa, aani goad-goad bola” meaning, ‘Eat sesame and jaggery and utter sweet words. 

Paatishaapta - West Bengal

Also known as Poush Sankranti after the month in which it falls, Bengalis celebrate the season with a bath in the waters where the river Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal followed by a feast including Paatishapta which is a time of rice pancake stuffed with khoya, coconut or jaggery. 

Til Chikki - Gujarat

In Gujarat, kite-flying is the highlight of the celebration with many festivals being organised across the state. And while people watch their kites soar, there’s always some sesame seed chikki to munch on.

Rewari - Punjab & Rajasthan

In the north, where the festival is often referred to as Lohri, these sweets are sometimes used as offerings during religious rituals. They’re hard, sweet discs made from sugar and sesame seeds. Pinnis are also a staple of the season which are warm, laddoos made from flour, ghee and nuts. 

Gajak - Madhya Pradesh

In Madhya Pradesh, the staple of the season Gajak, a dry sweet made from sesame, peanuts and jaggery. Traditionally, Gajak takes over 16 hours to make from scratch since the sweet is made by layering melted jaggery infused with sesame in very thin layers.

Til Pitha - Assam

Known as Bihu in Assam, the sweet of choice for this state is the Til Pitha. Similar to the pithas made in Bengal, it’s a pancake or steamed rice cakes, filled with coconut and jaggery

Makara Chaula - Odisha

In a tribute to the harvest, this Odia delicacy is always served around Makar Sankranti. It’s a delicious mixture of freshly harvested rice, sugarcane, ginger, black pepper powder, milk, banana and other fruits, chhena and coconut.