Christchurch, January 23, 2021
Participants and guests at the Festival
Seventy Maharashtrians, mostly from Christchurch but a few from Timaru, came together to celebrate the Festival of Makar Sankranti with gusto on Saturday, January 16, 2021.
The event turned out to be the biggest gathering ever of the Marathi-speaking community in Christchurch.
Rangoli at the entrance
The Festival was held at the Bishopdale Library and Community Centre of the Christchurch City Council. It was the brainchild of Amol Adhokar and Dhaval Lamghare, supported by many others. The venue was suitably decorated to capture the spirit of the Festival, including a handmade Rangoli pattern made by Minal Lamghare and Preeti Gaikwad welcoming everyone at the entrance.
Unite against Covid-19 with fun
Two youngsters – Sia Pathak and her twin Rudra Pathak – manned the registration counter at the entrance to record the names and contact information of all those who attended the event, to ensure 100% compliance with the track and trace process recommended by the New Zealand government. This was in addition to the QR code already available at the venue.
Sarees All Black
Ladies turned up in black or dark-coloured sarees, as is the tradition with the Makar Sankranti Festival. Since the Sun enters the north direction (in the Northern Hemisphere), it is believed that this the black colour absorbs the heat inside it, thereby increasing the body heat. People can also protect themselves from the cold and celebrate the festival properly. (source: www.oneindia.com).
‘Haldi-Kumkum’ Ceremony: In line with the tradition for Sankranti Festival, a ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ ceremony was held for the womenfolk. Each woman exchanged a gift with another woman, the pair being decided by a draw from a hat. Preeti Gaikwad planned and executed the entire operation of this ceremony.
A youngster’s time to shine: 14-year young Parth Gaikwad gave a presentation about Makar Sankranti using a slideshow.
Makar Sankranti marks the end of winter solstice and start of longer days.
Parth speaking about Makar Sankranti
The day is also celebrated in different states of India by different names including Bihu, Pongal, Uttarayan, Maghi and Lohri.
Shirish Paranjape conducted a quiz about place names in Maharashtra, which saw excellent engagement from the crowd, including some good laughs. A tiebreaker was needed to decide the winner – Abhishek Kurade.
Fun for children: There were competitive games (Spoon and Marble Race) for the children, which was great fun to watch. Rihan Shevde was the winner of the tight contest. All the children received a pack of chocolates, sponsored by Avi Gangurde.
Everyone was then treated to sumptuous and delicious Paav Bhaaji.
Amol Adhokar, it seemed, had poured huge amounts of love and dedication, to prepare and present an amazingly tasty dish for the event. He was well supported by many people, including Ashwin, who had travelled from Timaru. Everyone had plenty to savour and everyone had only positive comments about the food.
Amol and Ashwin getting ready for service
Til-Gul Laddu (Sesame Jaggery Sweet Balls) were distributed to everyone, as is the tradition during the Makar Sankranti Festival.
The colours, moods & expressions, and all the happenings were beautifully captured by Samhita Gokarn, who worked tirelessly behind her camera.
All those who attended had only good things to say about the event and were looking forward to the next one.
Shirish Paranjape is our Correspondent based in Christchurch. He and his family have been active in the Maharashtrian and wider community in Canterbury since their migration from Mumbai in 2002. The above story has been sponsored by