Colourful Sankranti celebrations in Andhra
Hyderabad: Sankranti, the Telugu harvest festival, was on Sunday celebrated with gaiety and traditional fervour across Andhra Pradesh with rangoli, kite-flying, decoration of bulls, cock fight, bull fight and other rural sports.
Towns and villages wore a festive atmosphere with colourful kites dotting the skies and people participating in various competitions organised to mark one of the major festivals of the Telugus.
The day began with womenfolk putting colourful `muggu` or `rangoli` in front of their houses with cow dung and flowers. The houses were decorated with marigold flowers and mango leaves.
Sunday was the second day of three-day celebrations, which began with Bhogi on Saturday. People lit bonfires on the streets with agricultural and household waste to mark Bhogi.
`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.
People of Telangana, Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions are celebrating the festival in line with their unique cultural traditions.
Popular Hindi and Telugu chartbusters blared from the speakers as people in Hyderabad joined the festivities. 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 `manja` (a thread of crushed glass), ignoring the appeals by bird lovers not to use `manja` which injures a large number of birds every year.
Electricity authorities issued an advisory to kite-flyers to prevent electrocution.
A few vehicles plied on the otherwise busy streets of Hyderabad as thousands of families left for their home towns in coastal Andhra and Raylaseema for the celebrations.
Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) is operating over 3,000 special buses and railways running 22 special trains between Hyderabad and other destinations in the state to clear the huge holiday rush.
There was a different kind of excitement in the countryside with traditional cock fights in parts of coastal Andhra. There were also sheep and bull fights watched by thousands of people.
The womenfolk prepared `chakkara pongal` or rice kheer, a special dish made of rice from fresh crop, jaggery and milk. The boiling of rice symbolises the abundance.
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