Children enjoy tilgul the most, and the fun starts with the tilgul box. From heart-shaped to leaf-shaped, pyramidal to triangular, the most attractive box wins at school. Every year, the tilgul remains the same, but the box must change. Once the box is settled, it’s time to go after the tilgul. The right mix of white and colors is essential, and even though they all taste the same, eating green, orange, purple, and yellow is special. Tilgul often changes hands just to have more colors.
Childhood is so beautiful; the sugar content doesn’t matter, only the colors of the sweets do. As adults, all we do is count calories and not memories. Shouldn’t life be like this? Think of all the colors and forget the burden of calories, pain, and sadness.
If you’re lucky enough, you can get the groundnut-filled boxes, but the bigger ones can be difficult to fit. Once you have the right box and the right colors, you’re all set for Sankranti. You just have to go from home to home and exchange tilgul, saying “Tilgul ghya, goood goood bola!” We, the convent-educated, wanted English and said “Take sweet, talk sweet, and be sweet.”
Another event for the kids is Bor Nhan, which is celebrated by many families. If a child is born in the house, they are given a special bath with all the goodies on Sankranti, and are decorated with tilgul jewelry. Traditionally, the Paranjape family was famed for their tilgul jewelry, but now it is widely available. The fun part is calling all the kids in the locality and having a competition to see who can get the most goodies from the shower.
Kites are also a big part of the festivities. There are now kite festivals, but traditionally it was just the start of the kite season. We still had to wait for exams to be over before we could fly kites freely. The kites were of different colors, filling the sky with vibrant hues. Kids and young adults could spend hours under the sun flying kites, something that kids with computer games today miss out on. This is why Vitamin D deficiency was not as rampant in our ancestors as it is in us. Kites were readily available in Ganpat Galli, Camp, and Burud Galli, while the thread or manja was prepared from ground glass at home.