Sankranthi is an important festival observed by Telugu speaking people in January. It is quite similar to the Pongal Festival observed in Tamil Nadu and Makar Sankranthi observed in other parts of India. Sankranthi 2013 date is January 14.Makar Sankranti is the day when the sun enters into the zodiac Capricorn or Makara. It is also known as Uttarayana Punyakalam and heralds the arrival of spring season. Lord Surya is worshipped on the Makar Sankranti day and is a form of Nature Worship. A major event on the day is the bathing ritual at Sangam (confluence of Yamuna, Saraswati and Ganga) in Allahabad and also in the famous bathing ghats on River Ganga. Taking a holy dip on the day is considered to cleanse sins committed and this will lead to Moksha (Salvation).
Uttarayana Punyakalam, the day time of Devas, begins with the Makar Sankranti and lasts for six months. This period is ideal for all kind of auspicious activities.
Sankranthi is a four-day festival in Andhra Pradesh. The Bhogi festival is observed on the first day and second day is the most important day and is known as Sankranthi or Pongal. The third day of the festival is Kanuma and fourth and final day is referred as Mukkanuma. Uttarayana Punnyakalam period begins with Sankranthi and the next six months are considered highly auspicious.
In Andhra Pradesh on the Sankranthi day, ‘Pongali’, a dish prepared from the recent rice harvest is offered to Sankranthi Lakshmi. This is quite similar to the dish prepared in neighboring Tamil Nadu during Pongal. An important side dish prepared on the day is the pumpkin curry. 'Arselu' or special ‘Sankranthi Appam' is an important sweet delicacy prepared during Sankranthi.
A major highlight of Sankranthi festival in Andhra Pradesh is charity or alms giving. Most people make it a point to share whatever they have with other people. Sweets and milk products are shared between relatives and neighbors. Gifting pumpkin is another highlight. Idols of various gods in Hindu pantheon, bronze utensils, and clothes are given away on the day.