Makar Sankranti is the first Hindu festival of the year and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal across India. In 2023, Makar Sankranti will be celebrated on Monday, January 15.
It is a harvest festival celebrated by Hindus throughout India, although the names, traditions and festivities may differ from state to state.
Makar Sankranti is also known as Uttarayan as it symbolises the sun's transition towards the north, which marks the end of winter and the beginning of longer days. It is believed that if one dies on this auspicious day, they are not reborn and go straight to heaven.
Sankranti is referred to the specific solar day in the Hindu calendar, and God Sun is worshipped. On Makar Sankranti, the Sun moves from Dakshinayana (South) to Uttarayana (North) hemisphere. According to the scriptures, Dakshinayan signifies the night of the god or a period of negativity.
In addition, the sun enters the zodiac sign Makara (Capricorn), marking the culmination of the winter season and the beginning of longer days. Sun enters all zodiac signs during transit, but its entry into Cancer and Capricorn is considered auspicious.
Before Makar Sankranti, the Sun is located in the Southern Hemisphere, and hence in India, winter nights are longer and days are shorter. However, from the day of Makar Sankranti, the days start getting longer and the nights shorter.
Along with this, it also marks the beginning of Magh month (January-February). Every 80 years, the day of Sankranti is cancelled by one day to compensate for the variation caused by the rotation of the Sun.
Performing the Haldi Kumkum ceremony on this day is believed to trigger waves of quiescent Adi-Shakti in the universe. It helps in the immersion of Saguna Bhakti in a person's mind and increases the feeling towards God.
In India, the Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great grandeur in different names across the country, including Uttar Pradesh, where it is known as the festival of Donation. Makar Sankranti is known as Thai Pongal or Pongal in Tamil Nadu. In Gujarat and Rajasthan, it is observed as Uttarayan.
In Haryana and Punjab, it is referred to as Maghi and is preceded by Lohri. It is called Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu by the Assamese and Khichdi in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Besides the celebration in India, Makar Sankranti is also celebrated internationally as Maghe Sankranti in Nepal, Songkram in Thailand and Thingyan in Myanmar.
During this auspicious day, people wake up at Brahma Murta (before sunrise) and take a holy dip in the Ganges, Yamuna, and Narmada or Shipra rivers. After this, the devotees worship Surya Dev (Sun God) by offering Arghya (water) while chanting mantras and expressing their gratitude to Goddess Ganga.
On this day, people also give charity and donations to the needy and poor, including food, blankets, woollen clothes and Dakshina to Brahmins. Apart from this, Havan and Yajna are also organised at home and in temples.
Makar Sankranti marks the commencement of the harvest season, where people worship the new crops. In some states, Makar Sankranti or Sankranthi lasts two to four days. On this occasion, kite flying is a customary and popular practice in Gujarat and Ahmedabad; hence this day is also observed as International Kite Festival in these states since 1989.
This festival holds religious and astronomical significance; thus, Hindus consider this day very auspicious, bringing good luck and prosperity. According to Hindu mythology, Sankranti is regarded as a Hindu deity.
According to history, Sankranti killed a demon named Sankarasura. The next day of Makar Sankranti is called Karidin or Kinkranta because the goddess killed the demon named Kinkarasura.
This is all about Makar Sankranti. We wish you a very happy Makar Sankranti. If you have any queries or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We appreciate our reader's valuable comments.
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