Why is Tilgul given on Makar Sankranti?

- January 13, 2022


By Kayva Gokhale 

Tilgul is a major tradition of Makar Sankranti. ‘Til‘, meaning sesame seeds and ‘gul‘ meaning jaggery, make up this delicious but simple sweet treat. Extremely popular in Maharashtra, this sweet is made by mixing jaggery and sesame seeds, sometimes along with other ingredients like coconut or dry fruits, and making small laddoos or chikki from it.

Sesame seeds are very nutritious, containing zinc, copper, iron and other vitamins, which are great for building good immunity. Since wintertime brings with it cases of cough, cold and flu, eating sesame seeds is a way to keep the body healthy. Furthermore, jaggery is known to produce heat inside the body, another plus point in cold climes. Thus, tilgul is not only a tasty snack, but also a healthy and nutritious addition to your winter diet.

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Sesame seeds are mentioned many times in our ancient texts and have some interesting beliefs associated with them. According to some legends, these seeds were blessed by Yama, the God of Death, and can therefore grant immortality. This is also why black sesame seeds are said to be the food of departed souls. Some others believe that the seeds were created when drops of Vishnu’s sweat solidified, and that they contain the essence of the divine in them.

While tilgul is prepared and eaten throughout winter, it is specifically made for the festival of Makar Sankranti, which falls in mid-January. On Sankranti, families and friends exchange tilgul sweets and say to each other,

“Tilgul kha, goad goad bola”, meaning “Have sweet tilgul and speak sweet words.”

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