The first day of the Hindu new year is marked by Baisakhi, primarily a harvest festival. This is celebrated with great gusto in Punjab where Bhangara dancers, energetic and vigorous country youths enhant everybody with their ebullience.
When the sun moves into the northern constellation the Hindu almanac marks the passage with Makar Sankranti. In north India this is the day prescribed for ritual bathing which is considered particularly auspicious. In the south, the festival of Pongal coincides with Makar Sankranti and marks the reaping of the harvest and the withdrawal of the southwest monsoon.
On Pongal, rice is ritually cooked and allowed to boil over symbolizing the ushering in of plenty. The day after, the cattle are bathed, fed and decorated before being paraded down the village streets.
In Assam, conclusion of harvest time, brings with it the Bihu. Prayers are offered for a plentiful harvest and for the health of the livestock. Bihu dances are remarkable for their sensual lyricism while the drum beats seem to resonate the pulsation of a romantic heart.
The Goa carnival inspires the residents to an uninhibited spell of festive feasting, music and dance. The spirit of the season reflects the mood of Mardi Gras - the ritual parade led by Momo, the king of the Underworld.