Hyderabad: Makar Sankranti, the colourful harvest festival, was celebrated Thursday with pomp and gaiety across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The countryside in both the Telugu states wore a festive look with decorated houses, kite-flying, cockfights, bull-fights and other rural sports.
On the second day of the three-day festival, people dressed in their best thronged temples to offer prayers.
This is the first Sankranti after bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to form Telangana as a separate state.
Villages in both the states came alive with Sankranti, one of the major festivals. It was time for families to come together. 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 neighbouring Andhra Pradesh for the celebrations, leaving the city's roads almost deserted.
Womenfolk decorate the front-yard of houses with Rangoli. They set cow-dung balls called as 'Gobbemma' and placed among the Rangoli patterns. They also put fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane.
The houses were decorated with marigold flowers and mango leaves.
The women also 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.
In almost every neighbourhood, youngsters, irrespective of their religion and caste, were flying kites on rooftops amid the playing of songs.
Thousands of colourful kites decorated the blue skies as kids and youths competed with each other in kite-flying. The lanes were abuzz with commotion as children ran to loot the kites cut by the competitors.
Kite traders made a fast buck as flyers thronged the shops to buy the kites and Chinese 'manja', ignoring the appeals by bird lovers not to use the 'manja' which injures a large number of birds every year.
'Haridasus' and 'Basvannas', the uniquely attired alm-seekers with ornately decorated oxen, made rounds of villages to seek alms.
The farmers also decorated bullocks and worshipped them for their contribution to the harvest.
Despite the orders by the Andhra Pradesh High Court and Supreme Court banning cock-fights, the bloody sport was organized openly in many parts of East Godavari, West Godavari and Krishna districts.
People bet crores of rupees on the cock-fights. Like every year, police turned mute spectators in most of the places as powerful politicians and businessmen openly supported the cock-fights on the ground that it is part of their culture.