Sankranti celebrations in full swing in Telugu States
Every nook and corner of Coastal Andhra has worn a festive look with Sankranti celebrations spread over January 14 and 15. With the State government sanctioning Rs.1 crore per district for the celebrations, even political leaders are participating in a big way in the festivities at the village level also. What with official patronage for the celebrations, the annual cokfighting and ramfighting competitions are going on in a big way despite the courts directives against cruelty to animals. The neighbouring Tamil Nadu being ambivalent on Jallikattu (people confronting charging bulls), apparently the whole South is enjoying the Pongal festivities one way or the other. Telangana is enjoying the festival with kite-flying, among other things. The government has banned Chinese `manja' (threat used for cutting kites), called Thungus, as hazardous for birds and also people owing to its synthetic nature. Each traditional kite in Hyderabad bears a name, but the imported kites such as the Chinese look more like dragons than the traditional Hyderabadi varieties. The traditional kites are perfect squares fortified diagonally with sliced sticks, and essentially made with paper. But the kites these days are made from all kinds of materials, taking the fun out of kite-flying. Kite-flying has been one of the most pleasure-giving sports for children and adults alike. Modernity always chips away at tradition. So kite-flying, too, has changed. The kites with longish tails are now flying and these are not useful for the traditional `pench' -- a kite-flyer trying to cut the kite of another in the air. In Hyderabad, kite-flying is a highly secular festival. In AP as a whole, bonfires are the rule for the festival on the previous day. In Hyderabad, in the Hayatnagar area, enthusiastic people indulged in cockfighting against the backdrop of a bonfire. Some people are stated to have been taken into custody in connection with the cockfights in Hyderabad. In West Godavari and Krishna districts, the betting over cockfights goes into crores of rupees despite bans on the popular sport during Sankranti.For women also, Sankranti is a great festival. They have the home-front decorations, wherein colourful, geometrical patterns are drawn up with `Muggu' (chalk powder). Women participate enthusiastically in these colourful competitions.