Hindus celebrate several festivals in mid-January. Lohri is celebrated in Bengal and northern India on the 13th. Meanwhile, on 14 January, Hindus across India observe Makar Sankranti, while those in the south celebrate Thai Pongal.

Makar Sankranti symbolises the end of the winter solstice and the monsoon, and the beginning of the harvest season. The festival also pays respect to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. It is observed in many different ways around India and Nepal. In this gallery, we look at devotees preparing for Makar Sankranti festivities in two locations: Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh state, and Ganga Sagar (or Sagar Island) near Kolkata.

Devotees and sadhus (Hindu holy men) will mark the day by taking a dip at Ganga Sagar, the point where the River Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal.

Makar Sankranti
Naga Sadhus or Hindu holy men, smeared with ash, smoke inside their makeshift camps near the confluence of the river Ganges and the Bay of BengalRupak de Chowdhuri/Reuters
Makar Sankranti
A Hindu holy man smokes cannabis at a camp on Sagar Island, the confluence of the River Ganges and the Bay of BengalDibyangshu Sarkar/AFP
Makar Sankranti
A sadhu (Hindu holy man) smokes cannabis at his temporary camp on GangasagarDibyangshu Sarkar/AFP
Makar Sankranti
Hindu pilgrims walk after taking a dip at the confluence of the river Ganges and the Bay of Bengal, ahead of the Makar Sankranti festivalRupak de Chowdhuri/Reuters
Makar Sankranti
A performer dressed as Hindu goddess Kali begs for alms at Gangasagar near KolkataDibyangshu Sarkar/AFP
Makar Sankranti
Lamps burn as Hindu devotees perform rituals at GangasagarDibyangshu Sarkar/AFP
Makar Sankranti
A pilgrim dries saris after taking a dip in the waters of the Ganges on her way to Sagar IslandRupak de Chowdhuri/Reuters
Makar Sankranti
A Hindu devotee holds up a flag to indicate to members of his group at Sagar IslandDibyangshu Sarkar/AFP

In Uttar Pradesh state, up to two million Hindus are expected to gather to bathe at Sangam, the confluence of the Rivers Ganges and Yamuna — and the invisible or mythical Saraswati River.

Makar Sankranti
Workers construct a temporary pontoon bridge at Sangam - the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati, in Prayag near AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/AFP
Makar Sankranti
Labourers carry wooden sleepers to construct a temporary pontoon bridge over the River Ganges in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/AFP
Makar Sankranti
Labourers construct a temporary pontoon bridge over the River Ganges in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/AFP
Makar Sankranti
Workers adjust electricity cables set up temporarily on the banks of the river Ganges in preparation for the annual Hindu religious fair of Magh Mela in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/AFP
Makar Sankranti
A devotee rests at a temporary camp set up for the forthcoming Magh Mela festival in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/AFP

The festival of Lohri marks the beginning of the harvest festival in India's northern state of Punjab. Celebrated annually on 13 January, Lohri marks the end of the coldest month of the year, prompting people to celebrate as they offer thanks to the gods for the crops they are about to harvest. Many Hindus in northern India celebrate the festival with bonfire ceremonies and kites.

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Women clad in traditional Punjabi dance to celebrate the Lohri festival in AmritsarNarinder Nanu/AFP
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Women clad in traditional Punjabi dress dance around a bonfire during celebrations on the eve of the Lohri festival in AmritsarNarinder Nanu/AFP
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A man flies a kite during celebrations for the Lohri festival in AmritsarNarinder Nanu/AFP