Today it is Sankranti in India, the harvest festival. Farmers celebrate this day all over the country. In South India, it is called Pongal. People exchange sesame seeds and sugarcane with each other. Whatever you receive first, you have to give away to somebody. We exchange things.
In ancient times there was no money, only the barter system. Almonds were exchanged for apples, sugarcane with rice, there was always give and take all over the world.
Today is the day everyone can exchange like that. Usually, sweets are given (jaggery and sesame seeds). We have this and say, ‘Let us speak sweetly this year, let there be sweetness in our speech.’ “Have a nice day, happy birthday” are modern day wishes, but in ancient times we say, ‘let us be sweet to each other, may you speak sweetly,’ meaning, ‘The whole year, may you speak wisdom’.
We had a huge program in Maharashtra, I have just come from there. In Maharashtra, it is said,
Gud gud bola.
(Eat tilgul (little balls of sesame seeds and jaggery); speak sweetly.)