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Makar Sankranti: Meaning, History, Significance And Celebrations

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    Makar Sankranti

    Remember digging into those melt-in-your-mouth tilkut laddoos as a kid, giggling from the tickle of 

    sesame seeds on your nose? Or cosying up by a crackling bonfire, the smoky scent filling the air with a promise of winter’s chill giving way to warmer days? That is the magic of Makar Sankranti. 

    During the Makar Sankranti festival, you will see colourful kites in the sky, grandparents, their eyes twinkling with mischief, helping their grandchildren tie the perfect kites, and their weathered hands guiding theirs with practised ease. This ancient festival, woven with threads of family, tradition, and the promise of renewal, marks a turning point in the year – Casting off the last shivers of winter and embracing the sun’s northward journey, basking in the hope of brighter days ahead. Read along to learn about the history, the significance of Makar Sankranti, the customs and traditions associated with it, why Makar Sankranti is celebrated, how it is celebrated across India, what Makar Sankranti wishes you can send your loved ones and a lot more.

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    Makar Sankranti – Meaning

    What is Makar Sankranti? Makar Sankranti, at its core, marks the sun’s transition into the zodiac sign of Capricorn. “Makar” refers to Capricorn, and “Sankranti” denotes the movement of the sun into a new celestial orbit. This celestial phenomenon signifies the triumph of light over darkness, heralding longer, sunlit days.

    Why Makar Sankranti is celebrated

    It is a festival deeply tied to India’s culture, religion, and agriculture. The Makar Sankranti festival unites diverse communities across India, celebrating not only the sun’s northward journey but also the promise of renewal, prosperity, and the strengthening of familial bonds.

    Makar Sankranti – Background

    From a religious perspective, Makar Sankranti holds a sacred resonance for Hindus, particularly dedicated to the worship of Surya, the sun god. Beyond being a celestial body, the sun symbolises the cosmic source of energy, light, and life. Ritualistic dips in holy rivers, undertaken by many on this auspicious day, carry symbolic weight, signifying a spiritual cleansing to purify the soul from accumulated sins. In regions steeped in mythology, the festival marks the triumph of virtue over evil, with Lord Vishnu’s legendary defeat of a demon.

    Agriculturally, Makar Sankranti marks the threshold of the harvest season, prompting farmers to express gratitude for a fruitful yield and to seek blessings for a prosperous future. The festival becomes a time for communities to come together, sharing the joy of abundance and fostering a sense of collective gratitude.

    Adding to the festivities, the tradition of flying kites becomes a symbol of dispelling negativity, creating an environment filled with hope and positive energy. 

    As colourful kites dot the sky, they signify not just a playful activity but a collective celebration of newfound warmth and the promise of brighter days.

    The Makar Sankranti festival, therefore, becomes a cultural tapestry where religious devotion, agricultural celebration, and community spirit seamlessly intertwine, creating a vibrant mosaic that mirrors the rich diversity of India. The very essence of Makar Sankranti lies in its symbolic meaning, signifying the cyclical rhythm of nature and the collective rejoicing in the renewal of life and prosperity. 

    Now that you’ve understood why Makar Sankranti is celebrated, let’s learn more about the significance of Makar Sankranti, when is Makar Sankranti, its history and a whole lot more.

    When is Makar Sankranti celebrated?

    Makar Sankranti is not celebrated on a fixed date but rather according to the solar calendar. It falls on the day the sun enters the Capricorn zodiac sign, which usually occurs between January 14th and 15th every year. The exact date the festival is celebrated may differ depending on the location and calculations used.  

    When is Makar Sankranti this year? It falls on the 15th of January, 2024.

    Makar Sankranti – History

    The Makar Sankranti festival has a history that stretches across ages, blending tradition, myth, and agricultural importance.

    This festival’s roots reach far back in time, originating from the ancient understanding of astronomy and agriculture in the Indian subcontinent. Makar Sankranti signifies the sun’s shift into Capricorn, marking the end of winter and the beginning of longer days. In historical agricultural communities, this celestial event carried significant weight, signalling the start of the harvest season and a time for farmers to celebrate and give thanks for a fruitful yield.

    Religiously, Makar Sankranti draws inspiration from Hindu mythology. It is believed that on this day, Lord Vishnu defeated the demon Sankarasura, symbolising the victory of good over evil. Devotees observe this triumph through prayers, rituals, and visits to holy rivers for spiritual cleansing.

    Throughout the centuries, the festival has adapted, incorporating regional customs. In Punjab, Makar Sankranti takes the form of Lohri, characterised by bonfires, traditional dances, and the exchange of sweets. In Tamil Nadu, it transforms into Pongal, a four-day harvest celebration.

    The Makar Sankranti history intertwines with India’s cultural fabric. For instance, the tradition of kite-flying, introduced during the medieval Mughal period, has become an integral part of celebrations, symbolising freedom and joy.

    As the Makar Sankranti history unfolds, we understand that the festival stands as a symbol of enduring traditions that have shaped India’s cultural identity. Reflecting agricultural and celestial cycles, it demonstrates the resilience of cultural practices passed through generations, connecting the past with the present.

    Significance of Makar Sankranti

    Now, let’s get into the importance of Makar Sankranti – India welcomes Makar Sankranti, a festival celebrating the celestial shift of the sun into Capricorn. More than just an astronomical event, Makar Sankranti holds deep cultural and religious importance. It marks the end of the winter solstice, ushering in longer days and the promise of abundant harvests.

    Each state celebrates Makar Sankranti with unique customs and traditions, transforming the festival into a thread that intricately weaves the cultural tapestry of the nation. This diversity becomes a source of strength, fostering a sense of belonging among the diverse communities that make up the fabric of India.

    As the sun’s rays linger longer in the sky, so does the spirit of Makar Sankranti linger in the hearts of those who partake in its festivities. It is a time when communities come together, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries, to collectively bask in the warmth of traditions passed down through generations. The festival’s essence lies not only in the rituals but also in the sense of togetherness it fosters, reminding us of the diversity of cultures that make India unique.

    During the Makar Sankranti festival, people give gratitude for nature’s bounty, it is a celebration of cultural diversity and a reaffirmation of our shared identity. The importance of Makar Sankranti lies in its ability to unite people across regions, languages, and traditions, creating a sense of oneness that resonates deeply in the collective heart of the nation.

    We have so far covered Makar Sankranti – Background, significance and history. Now let’s get into how is it celebrated across India and the customs associated with it.

    How is Makar Sankranti celebrated?

    Makar Sankranti is celebrated in which state? The festival is celebrated across a number of states in India. In Punjab, the festival assumes the vibrant form of Lohri, creating a lively ambience with bonfires illuminating the night sky. Families gather around, engaging in traditional dances, singing folk songs, and sharing delectable treats like jaggery and sesame seeds. This celebration radiates warmth and camaraderie, encapsulating the essence of the state’s lively spirit.

    Travelling south to Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti blossoms into the four-day harvest festival known as Pongal. Families unite in a joyous celebration, cooking the first harvest in beautifully adorned clay pots. The air is filled with the aroma of freshly prepared dishes, and traditional rituals add a touch of cultural sanctity to the festivities. Pongal reflects the agrarian roots of the region, embodying gratitude for the bounty yielded by the fertile land.

    In Gujarat, the International Kite Festival transforms the skies into a mesmerising canvas of colours and patterns. Kite enthusiasts, both local and international, showcase their skills in a visual spectacle that captivates onlookers. The festival not only highlights the artistry of kite flying but also fosters a spirit of competition and camaraderie among participants, making it a unique and thrilling experience.

    Maharashtra’s celebration of Makar Sankranti is marked by the exchange of ’til-gul’ – sesame seeds and jaggery – a typical Makar Sankranti food. The sweet exchange is accompanied by the traditional refrain, “Til gul ghya, god god bola,” encouraging people to let go of past grievances and embrace new beginnings. This custom exemplifies the cultural emphasis on fostering harmony and goodwill during the festive season.

    It is evident that each state adds its distinctive flavour to the celebration, reflecting the cultural richness and traditions that make India such a culturally diverse country.

    How can you celebrate Makar Sankranti?

    There are a number of ways you can partake in the festivities and embrace the positive energy that characterises the Makar Sankranti festival.

    One of the most iconic and widespread traditions during Makar Sankranti is kite-flying. Taking to the rooftops, you, along with your families and friends, can engage in friendly kite-flying competitions. The art of kite-flying symbolises the spirit of freedom, optimism, and the triumph of good over evil.

     Enthusiasts skillfully manoeuvre their kites, attempting to cut the strings of their opponents in a playful yet competitive dance across the azure canvas above. The skies become a lively spectacle, echoing with cheers and laughter, creating an atmosphere charged with positive vibes.

    Another cherished tradition is the preparation and exchange of traditional sweets and Makar Sankranti food. Sesame seeds and jaggery, the emblematic ingredients of Makar Sankranti, take centre stage in mouthwatering treats like ’til ladoo’ and ‘gajak.’ Families come together to prepare these delectable delights, sharing them with neighbours and loved ones as a gesture of goodwill. The sweetness of these treats mirrors the festive spirit, fostering warmth and camaraderie among communities.

    For those seeking a spiritual connection, taking a dip in holy rivers is a revered tradition during Makar Sankranti. The cleansing act symbolises the purification of the soul and is believed to wash away sins. Pilgrims flock to sacred riverbanks, such as the Ganges, to participate in this ritual, creating a profound sense of devotion and unity.

    In many regions, Makar Sankranti is synonymous with bonfires, especially in northern states like Punjab. The night before the festival, people gather around bonfires, singing traditional songs, dancing, and exchanging warm wishes. This ritual, known as Lohri, not only marks the end of winter but also serves as a communal celebration, bringing together neighbours and friends to share the joy of the approaching harvest season.

    Participating in local events and fairs is another exciting way to celebrate Makar Sankranti. Many regions organise cultural programs, traditional dance performances, and fairs showcasing local crafts and cuisine. When you are part of events like these, you can experience the rich culture of India, fostering a deeper appreciation for the various customs associated with the festival.

    For those inclined towards artistic expression, attending or participating in the International Kite Festival in Gujarat is an exhilarating option. The skies become a canvas for a mesmerising display of kites in different shapes and sizes. Skilled kite flyers from around the world showcase their talents, creating a visual spectacle that captivates the audience and adds an international flavour to the festivities.

    In Maharashtra, the exchange of ’til-gul’ (sesame seeds and jaggery) is accompanied by a sweet refrain. People, instead of saying ‘Happy Makar Sankranti’, say, ‘Til gul ghya, god god bola,’ encouraging individuals to forget past grievances and embrace new beginnings. This symbolic exchange of sweetness underscores the spirit of forgiveness, fostering harmony and goodwill within communities.

    You can also bask in the festive spirit by sitting with your dadi (paternal grandmother) or nani (maternal grandmother) by having them tell you a Makar Sankranti story – the story could be about anything from mythical battles with demons to heartwarming tales of family reunions and kite-flying escapades – this will help you discover the soul of this ancient festival.

    Sometimes, when our loved ones live far away, we may not be able to celebrate this day with them in person, but since we live in the digital age, we can always celebrate this day with them virtually. 

    Share the excitement of your local celebrations and send your Makar Sankranti greetings to your loved ones online. You can also virtually exchange ’til-gul,’ or even engage in friendly kite-flying competitions through video conferencing. This digital bridge helps maintain the spirit of togetherness, ensuring that distance does not dampen the festive cheer.

    You can also raise awareness about this special day online by sharing a post or story related to the festival with your friends or online audience. Talk about Makar Sankranti – background, importance of Makar Sankranti, and what is Makar Sankranti. If you have friends or followers from other countries, who do not know about the festival at all, sharing Makar Sankranti information in English will help them learn about the festival.

    You can also try and use features like Instagram stories to ask your followers questions about the festival like ‘What is Makar Sankranti?’ ‘Why we celebrate Makar Sankranti?’ or ‘Why do we celebrate Makar Sankranti?’ and ‘Makar Sankranti is celebrated in which state?’ 

    Ask them through the question sticker how they will be celebrating this day and tell them to share their favourite Happy Makar Sankranti quotes in English with you or your page, so you can feature their account on their page with the unique quote and share the same with your audience.

    You can also share how the festival is being celebrated with your friends and followers on social media by posting pictures of the activities you are indulging in, the Makar Sankranti decoration in your society, by posting a Makar Sankranti story on Instagram.

    Encouraging user-generated content not only sparks a sense of community but also provides a platform for diverse perspectives and personal stories related to Makar Sankranti. This not only educates your followers but also creates an inclusive space where they can share their cultural backgrounds and contribute to a collective celebration of this vibrant festival. Additionally, it can serve as a fun and interactive way to bridge gaps in understanding, fostering a sense of cultural exchange and unity among your audience.

    You can also celebrate the festival by decorating your house or space. Makar Sankranti decoration could be super simple or fancy, depending on your budget and the space you have available. 

    Here are some Makar Sankranti decoration ideas –

    You can hang colourful kites around your home or create a backdrop with them. Make pretty designs at your doorstep using colourful powders or flower petals, known as ‘rangoli.’ Use strings of marigold flowers to bring in a nice smell and make your place look cheerful. 

    You could light up your home with small lamps or diyas, and place them in spots that make your place feel cosy and traditional. To capture the harvest season feel, add sugarcane stalks, fresh fruits, or clay pots with a bunch of crops. These simple decorations not only make your home look ready for Makar Sankranti but also bring in the festive spirit for everyone to enjoy.

    If you want to infuse a bit of sophistication into your Makar Sankranti decoration, consider combining traditional elements with a modern twist. Opt for intricately designed kites that not only add a pop of colour but also serve as chic hanging ornaments. 

    Experiment with geometric rangoli patterns or use stencils to create more intricate and polished designs at the entrance. Replace ordinary strings with fairy lights intertwined with marigold strands for a whimsical glow, adding an enchanting allure to your space. Incorporate brass or metallic diyas to bring a touch of elegance to the traditional lighting.

     Intersperse the sugarcane stalks with tall, slender candles in stylish holders to create a sleek, contemporary look. This fusion of traditional and modern elements can transform your Makar Sankranti decorations into a sophisticated showcase, combining the richness of the festival with a dash of trendy flair.

    We hope these Makar Sankranti decoration ideas will infuse your celebration with both tradition and style, creating a festive ambience that resonates with joy and elegance.

    Whether engaging in traditional rituals, enjoying culinary delights, participating in kite-flying competitions, or simply spending quality time with those close to you, you can celebrate the Makar Sankranti festival in a number of ways. During this festival, besides sending Makar Sankranti greetings, we must also reflect on the cycles of nature, express gratitude for the harvest, and strengthen the bonds that unite communities across the diverse landscape of India. 

    Makar Sankranti Wishes

    Extending warm wishes for Makar Sankranti is a beautiful tradition that reflects the joy and togetherness inherent in the festival. In-person, the exchange of heartfelt greetings is often accompanied by the customary sharing of ’til-gul’ (sesame seeds and jaggery), symbolising sweetness and unity. 

    As mentioned earlier in the article, a simple yet meaningful gesture is to offer a plate of these traditional treats to friends, family, and neighbours, accompanied by the cheerful refrain, ‘Til gul ghya, god god bola.’ This phrase, rooted in Maharashtrian tradition, encourages the recipient to accept the sweetness and speak kind words, fostering a spirit of goodwill and forgiveness.

    For those celebrating in person, conveying Makar Sankranti wishes with a personal touch is crucial. Engaging in lively conversations, participating in festive activities, and joining communal events, such as kite-flying or bonfires, offer opportunities to share joy and connect on a deeper level. Additionally, attending local fairs and cultural programs provides a chance to experience the diverse ways in which Makar Sankranti is celebrated across different regions, fostering a richer understanding of the festival’s cultural significance.

    In our increasingly digital world, online platforms offer a convenient and immediate way to extend Makar Sankranti wishes to friends and family, especially if physical distances pose a challenge. 

    Sending ‘Happy Makar Sankranti’ wishes through messaging apps, emails, or social media platforms allows for the swift conveyance of warm sentiments. Share festive images, vibrant kites, or traditional Makar Sankranti graphics to add a visual touch to your wishes. You can also personalise your messages by incorporating traditional phrases, Makar Sankranti quotes or expressing your hopes for a bountiful and joyous year ahead.

    You can send Makar Sankranti wishes in English, Hindi or any other regional language.

    Here are some Makar Sankranti quotes you can share with those who matter to you, along with wishing them ‘Happy Makar Sankranti.’

    सूरज दक्षिण से उत्तर चला, दिन बड़े रात छोटी हुईं, ये है खुशियों की सौगात लाया, मकर संक्रांति की शुभकामनाएं! 

    तिलकुट खाओ, पतंग उड़ाओ, खुशियां मनाओ, मकर संक्रांति आई है, सबको शुभकामनाएं!

    लोहड़ी की आग, सूरज का प्रकाश, तिलकुट की मिठास, मकर संक्रांति का उत्सव, सबको शुभकामनाएं! 

    Here are some Makar Sankranti wishes in English you can send to those who matter to you on this special day:

    May the sun’s golden rays bless your life with abundant warmth and prosperity this Makar Sankranti.

    May the bonfire’s warmth embrace you, the kite’s flight inspire you, and the tilkut’s sweetness delight you on this auspicious day. Sending you warm Happy Makar Sankranti wishes!

    Wishing Happy Makar Sankranti to you! May your day be as bright and colourful as the kites in the sky! Wishing you a joyous celebration filled with sweet treats, shared laughter, and cherished memories.

    Sending Happy Makar Sankranti wishes to you and your loved ones! May your skies be full of dancing kites, your table laden with delicious tilkut, and your heart brimming with the warmth of family and friends.

    Wishing Happy Makar Sankranti to you and your dear ones! May the rituals of this auspicious day bring your family closer, strengthen your faith, and remind you of the beauty of unity and tradition.

    You can send your Makar Sankranti greetings to your near and dear ones either online or wish them in person. Whether it’s wishing Happy Makar Sankranti online or offline, whether you wish them in Hindi, your regional language or send your Makar Sankranti wishes in English, make sure your wishes are heartwarming and express your love and best wishes for the new year.

    When you are conveying your Happy Makar Sankranti wishes online, you can add a personal touch by sharing photos of how you have celebrated this festival over the years with them. Make sure to tag them and use festive hashtags like #HappyMakarSankranti, #SankrantiVibes, and #SunGodBlessings to spread the celebratory spirit.

    We hope the examples we shared above will help you craft your perfect Makar Sankranti message – whether a vibrant digital greeting or a handwritten note touched with tradition – let it radiate the warmth of the bonfire and the sweetness of tilkut.

    Makar Sankranti – Food and Delicacies

    Makar Sankranti, a festival rich in culinary traditions, unfolds a delectable array of dishes that are not only a feast for the taste buds but also a celebration of the harvest season. Sesame seeds and jaggery, the stars of the festival, find their way into various traditional treats, and ’til ladoo’ and ‘gajak’ stand out as quintessential Makar Sankranti delights. ‘Til ladoo,’ made with roasted sesame seeds, jaggery, and a hint of cardamom, offers a delightful combination of sweetness and nuttiness, while ‘gajak,’ a sweet made with sesame seeds and jaggery, presents a crunchy and flavorful treat.

    In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, ‘kheer’ is a quintessential Makar Sankranti food. This sweet rice pudding, enriched with aromatic spices, nuts, and dried fruits, becomes a festive staple, symbolising the richness of the harvest season. Families come together to enjoy this creamy and comforting dessert, reinforcing the sense of togetherness that characterises the festival.

    Heading south, Pongal, a dish made with newly harvested rice, lentils, and milk, becomes the heart of Makar Sankranti celebrations. Seasoned with black pepper, cumin, and ghee, Pongal captures the essence of the southern harvest, offering a savoury and wholesome indulgence. The preparation of Pongal is often accompanied by traditional rituals, adding a touch of sanctity to the culinary festivities.

    In Assam, the festival takes on the name ‘Bihu,’ and the celebration extends to a traditional feast featuring a variety of local delicacies made from freshly harvested crops. Assamese households prepare dishes like ‘pitha,’ a type of rice cake, and ‘laru,’ sweet sesame and jaggery balls, adding a distinct Assamese flavour to Makar Sankranti.

    These diverse culinary traditions reflect the regional agricultural practices and local ingredients, making Makar Sankranti not only a celebration of the changing seasons but also a gastronomic journey through the cultural diversity of India.


    What is Makar Sankranti?

    Makar Sankranti marks the sun’s transition into the zodiac sign of Capricorn, symbolising the end of winter solstice and the beginning of longer days.

    Why do we celebrate Makar Sankranti?

    Makar Sankranti is celebrated to honour the sun god, Surya, and is associated with the harvest season. It symbolises the triumph of light over darkness and the onset of warmer days. Now that we have covered why we celebrate Makar Sankranti, let’s move on to the other frequently asked questions about this festival.

    When is Makar Sankranti celebrated?

    Makar Sankranti is typically celebrated on January 14th or 15th every year. However, the date may vary slightly due to the Hindu calendar.

    Makar Sankranti festival is celebrated in which state?

    Makar Sankranti is celebrated throughout India, with significant observances in states like Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Assam, among others.

    How to celebrate Makar Sankranti at home?

    Celebrate by flying kites, preparing traditional foods, participating in community events, and engaging in rituals like taking a holy dip or making charitable contributions.

    How to celebrate Makar Sankranti in a society or community setting?

    Celebrating Makar Sankranti in a society often involves organising communal events such as kite-flying competitions, cultural programs, and bonfires. Residents come together to share traditional foods, exchange greetings, and partake in festive activities, fostering a sense of community spirit.

    How to celebrate Makar Sankranti in schools?

    In schools, students may engage in kite-making and flying activities, participate in cultural programs showcasing traditional dances and songs, and learn about the significance of the festival through educational events. Teachers may also organise rangoli-making competitions and encourage students to share their family traditions related to Makar Sankranti.

    What is Makar Sankranti also called?

    It is known by different names in various states and regions of India. It is known as Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Uttarayan in Gujarat. While in Assam, Makar Sankranti is also called Magh Bihu. In Maharashtra, the festival is often referred to as Makar Sankranti, and during the celebrations, there’s a custom of exchanging sesame seeds and jaggery along with the traditional greeting, “Til gul ghya, god god bola.”

    Is there a story of Makar Sankranti?

    While there is no story of Makar Sankranti, the festival holds cultural and religious significance, and there are a few legends related to the celebration. We have already mentioned the one associated with the Sun God, Surya in the article before. Here are a few more –

    End of Demon Sankarasura:

    In some regions, Makar Sankranti is associated with the legend of a demon named Sankarasura. It is believed that on this day, Lord Vishnu in his Kurma (tortoise) avatar defeated the demon, symbolising the victory of good over evil.

    Harvest Festival:

    Agriculturally, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as a harvest festival. Farmers convey their thanks for a plentiful harvest and extend their wishes for a future filled with prosperity. The festival acts as a bridge between the old and the new, connecting communities through shared agricultural practices and an acknowledgement of the cycles of nature.

    What is the meaning of Makar Sankranti?

    We have gone over the Makar Sankranti meaning in the article before. Makar Sankranti marks the sun’s shift into Capricorn, symbolising the end of winter solstice and longer days. 

    The term “Makar” refers to Capricorn, and “Sankranti” denotes the sun’s movement between zodiac signs. Beyond its astronomical importance, the festival holds cultural, religious, and agricultural significance, celebrating the harvest season and expressing gratitude to the sun god, Surya.


    We hope this article was able to provide you with interesting Makar Sankranti information. We hope you gained insights about the significance of the festival, why it is celebrated, when is it celebrated and how it is celebrated across the country. In case you want to send your best wishes for Makar Sankranti to your loved ones, we have also shared examples of the same in the article, including ‘Happy Makar Sankranti’quotes in Hindi as well as English that you can share. 

    As we celebrate this festival, we must look beyond the traditional rituals and joyful gatherings, and make a difference in someone’s life. One cause that perfectly aligns with the values of abundance and gratitude inherent in Makar Sankranti is addressing hunger. And what better way to help put an end to it than by joining Ketto’s Social Impact Plan? By giving as little as Rs 100 a month, you can help provide nutritious meals to hungry children, ensuring that the spirit of Makar Sankranti and the bountiful harvest reaches every corner, leaving no one behind. 

    We send you our best wishes for Makar Sankranti!

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