A large number of festivals in Andhra Pradesh are area and community centric. However, some, such as Makara Sankranti and Ugadi, are celebrated with great fervour across the state.

Makara Sankranti:
The harvest festival of Makara Sankranti, or Sonkronti. As it is locally known, it is undoubtedly the most important festival in Andhra Pradesh. It is a four-day affair celebrated in the second week of January (13-16 January).
On Bhogi, which falls on the day before Makara Sankranti, people woke up at the crack of dawn to light a bonfire in which they discard items that are no longer used such as old furniture. This practice symbolises the heralding of the new. Children are showered with regi pallu (jujube) to protect them from evil. People call on their friends and relatives and generous amounts of sweet preparations such as arisalu (made of rice flour and sesame seeds) are exchanged. On the day of the festival, women and young girls make elaborate rangolis and sprinkle them with cow dung to keep evil spirits away. Families gather on their terraces and fly kites. The activity eventually becomes competitive as neighbours try to bring down each others kites. On the two days that follow, Kanuma and Mukkanuma, people feed animals, particularly cows, in the spirit of charity. Mukkanuma is especially significant for farmers, who offer gifts to their cattle and pray to the elements, such as soil and water, for a good harvest.

Celebrated to mark the first day of Telugu New Year (March/April), Ugadi coincides with the Maharashtrian New Year, Gudipadwa. It is essentially a private affair where relatives get together and feast. The most important custom of Ugadi is the preparation of the traditional Ugadi pachadi (pickle), which is made from raw mangoes, neem flowers, pepper powder, jaggery and tamarind. The disparate ingredients provide the six flavours-sweet, sour, salty, bitter, tangy and spicy. This diversity of tastes symbolises the necessity to strike the right balance in all of life's experiences, whether positive or negative. Another important custom observed during Ugadi is Panchanga sravanam - the recitation of the coming year's astrological predictions. As with other festivals, elaborate meals are an important part of the celebrations.

Other major festivals:

Ratha Saptami is a festival that marks the birth of the Sun God.In Tirumala, it is celebrated with a procession, of the idols of Lord Malayappa Swamy and his consorts, through the streets.

ANTARVEDI FAIR Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Kalyanam, a festival held in Antarvedi, is attended by thousands of pilgrims every year.A fair is also held where stalls selling sweets,bangles, clothes etc. are put up.

KOTAPPAKONDA FAIR comes alive on the eve of Maha Shivaratri, as the crowds occupy every inch of the hill and celebrate with great devotion and fervour.The giant 'Prabhas' procession is something to behold.

MAHASHIVARATRI, literally 'the night of shiva' which is celebrated in Srisailam and Kalahasti in a grand way.During this festival, people fast during the day, and celebrate ceremonies at night.

SRI RAMANAVAMI is the birthday of Lord Rama.In Andhra Pradesh, especially in vontimitta and Kadapa where it is celebrated in a grand way, where small idols of Lord Rama and Sita are worshipped in households, before being taken out on a procession in the evening.

TIRUPATI GANGA JATARA is the annual folk festival of Tirupati.It is a week-long event, where devotees offer food and sarees to Gangamma, the Goddess who protects Tirupati.

PYDITTHALLAMMA UTSAVAM is a cattle trading festival that takes place in Vizianagaram.Various small shops sell food, sweets, handicrafts and furious Musicians and dancers come from all over the country to perform.

SRI KRISHNA JANMASTAMI is the birthday of Lord Krishna is one of the greatest of all Hindu festivals.The day is celebrated by decorating one's home, preparing sweets and offering Lord Krishna his favourite butter.

VINAYAKA CHAVITHI is mainly celebrated in Kanipakam in Andhra Pradesh with great excitement. The festival goes on from seven to ten days.The entire state is beautifully decorated and lit.

ATLA TADDE is a traditional festival celebrated on the third day of Krishna Paksh of Aashijam, by married Hindu women,where they fast for the health and long life of their husbands.Young,unmarried girls spend the day singing traditional songs.

VIJAYA DASHAMI or DUSSERA is one of the most important festivals of India. Goddess Durga is worshipped for the first 9 days of the festival and the 10th day signifies the goddess' victory over Mahishasura to help restore Dharma.

ROTTELA PANDUGA is a 3 day festival held at the Bara Shaheed Dargah in Nellore.It is held in honour of the 12 martyrs whose remains are buried in the compound.

DEEPAVALI the festival of lights, marks the victory of good over evil.The Goddess of wealth,Lakshmi, is the main deity worshipped. People exchange gifts, decorate their houses and light lamps in celebration.

KARTIKA POURNAMI is celebrated to mark the beginning of the auspicious Kartika month.Oil lamps with 365 wicks(signifying every day of the year) are lit in Shiva temples.

VISAKA UTSAV is a celebration of the arts,crafts and cuisine of Visakhapatnam District.It brings together performers, craftsmen, culinary artists and connoisseurs from all over the state.

NAGULA CHAVITHI or Festival of Snakes is celebrated on the fourth day after Deepavali in Andhra Pradesh.On this day,women and children feed milk to the snakes on the hills.

VAIKUNTA EKADASHI is considered an auspicious day and this festival is celebrated in all Vaishnavalayas, especially in Tirupati.It is believed that those who die on this day are freed from the rounds of birth and death.Devotees fast the whole day, observe vigil the whole night and do 'Japa'(meditation) and sing 'Hari Kirtan'(devotional songs).


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