Hyderabad, Jan 13 (IANS) The three-day Makar Sankranti, the Telugu harvest festival, began Sunday with people setting bonfires on the streets with agricultural and household waste to mark 'Bhogi'.
The celebrations started in the early hours with people cleaning their houses and burning old things in the belief that their lives would turn better. Many also wore new clothes.
Bonfires were seen on many streets in the colonies of Hyderabad with people burning their household waste and unwanted goods like old clothes, mats and broom sticks.
Bhogi, also known as Indran, is celebrated in honour of Hindu god Indra. Men, women and children went around the bonfires with prayers. Some sang songs and danced.
The day was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety across the state, especially in the coastal Andhra region, famous for agricultural crops.
After thoroughly cleaning their houses, women folks set cow-dung balls called 'Gobbemma' and placed them akin to rangoli patterns.
They also went for fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane. The houses were decorated with marigold flowers and mango leaves.
After special prayers in temples, the families prepared various dishes, especially Pongal, made of rice and daal.
Makar Sankranti, one of the major festivals, is celebrated in several parts of the country in myriad cultural forms. It is celebrated for three days in Andhra Pradesh.
Rangoli, kite flying, decoration of bulls, cockfights, bull-fights and other rural sports mark the festival.
Towns and villages wore a festive atmosphere with colourful kites dotting the skies and people participating in competitions to mark the festival.
Despite the ban on cockfights, hundreds including politicians, businessmen and celebrities bet crores of rupees. Though police impose curbs in many towns and villages in coastal Andhra, people organized cock-fight saying it was part of their culture.
Three to four inch knives are attached to the cocks' legs and the fight continues till the death of one of the two cocks in each round.
The cock-fights, which began Sunday, will continue during the three-day celebrations.