Tens of thousands of devotees across Himachal Pradesh on Sunday took a dip in rivers braving the cold weather to mark the auspicious Makar Sankranti festival. A huge gathering was seen at Tattapani, around 52 km from the state capital, and Manikaran, home to a Sikh shrine in Kullu district, for a holy dip in the Sutlej and Parvati rivers respectively. Both Tattapani and Manikaran, known for hot springs with high sulphur concentration, witnessed a majority of devotees mainly from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi.

“Every year more than 20,000 devotees are expected on Makar Sankranti,” a priest at Tattapani told IANS. Likewise, the devotees took a holy bath in Vashist temple, located on the outskirts of the popular tourist resort Manali. The temple is situated on the left bank of Beas river, also known for its hot springs. Makar Sankranti, a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of the country, also marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights.

Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival that is dedicated to express gratitude to the Sun God is one such festival. According to the English calendar, it is often observed in the second week of January. Just like the festival of Lohri, people thank the nature for good produce during the winter harvest festival.The festival denotes the entry of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makar (Capricorn) as it travels on its celestial path. On this auspicious day, people offer food to God Sun and perform rites and rituals.

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