Why is Makar Sankranti celebrated?
Makar Sankranti 2021: It is celebrated in January every year and marks the termination of the Winter season and the beginning of a new harvest season. This year it will be celebrated on 14 January.
It is dedicated to Lord Sun. It also refers to a specific solar day in the Hindu calendar. On this auspicious day, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn or Makar which marks the end of winter months and the beginning of longer days. This is the beginning of the month of Magh. To recompense for the distinction that happens due to the revolution around the sun, every 80 years the day of Sankranti is deferred by one day. From the day of Makar Sankranti, the sun begins its northward journey or Uttarayan journey. Therefore, this festival is also known as Uttarayan.
History of Makar Sankranti
Sankranti is deemed a Deity. As per the legend, Sankranti killed a devil named Sankarasur. The day next to Makar Sankrant is called Karidin or Kinkrant. On this day, Devi slew the devil Kinkarasur. The information of Makar Sankranti is available in Panchang. The Panchang is the Hindu Almanac that provides information on the age, form, clothing, direction, and movement of Sankranti.
According to the DrikPanchaang, "The time between Makar Sankranti and 40 Ghatis (roughly 16 hours for Indian locations if we consider 1 Ghati duration as 24 minutes) from the time of Makar Sankranti is considered good for auspicious work. This duration of forty Ghatis is known as Punya Kaal. Sankranti activities, like taking bath, offering Naivedhya (food offered to deity) to Lord Surya, offering charity or Dakshina, performing Shraddha rituals, and breaking fast or Parana, should be done during Punya Kaal. If Makar Sankranti happens after Sunset then all Punya Kaal activities are postponed till the next Sunrise. Therefore, all Punya Kaal activities should be done in the day time."
Importance of Makar Sankranti
Makar Sankranti is the date from which the northward movement of the sun begins. The period from Karka Sankranti to Makar Sankranti is known as the Dakshinayan.
- According to the scriptures, Dakshinayan symbolizes the night of god or the sign of negativity, and Uttarayan is considered as a symbol of the day of God or a sign of positivity. Since on this day, the sun starts its journey towards the north so, people take a holy dip in Ganga, Godavari, Krishna, Yamuna River at holy places, chant mantras, etc. Normally the sun affects all the zodiac signs, but it is said that the entry of the sun in the zodiac sign of Cancer and Capricorn religiously is very fruitful.
- Before Makar Sankranti, the sun is in the Southern Hemisphere. For this reason, in India, in winter nights are longer and days are smaller. But with the Makar Sankranti, the sun starts its journey towards Northern Hemisphere and so, days will be longer and nights smaller.
- On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, people express their gratitude towards the people of India throughout the year by worshiping the sun God in various forms. Any meritorious deeds or donations during this period establishes more fruitful.
- Performing Haldi Kumkum ceremony in a way that invokes the waves of quiescent Adi - Shakti in the Universe to get triggered. This helps in generating an impression of Sagun devotion on the mind of a person & enhances the Spiritual emotion to God.
In different regions of the country, Makar Sankranti is celebrated by different names
- Lohri: One day before Makar Sankranti, Lohri is celebrated in India with enthusiasm mainly in Haryana and Punjab. At night, people gather around the bonfire and throw til, puffed rice & popcorns into the flames of the bonfire. Prayers are offered to the bonfire seeking abundance & prosperity.
- Festival of Donation "or" Khichdi ": In Uttar Pradesh, it is mainly the festival of 'Donation'. The Magh fair, which continues for one month on the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati in Allahabad, starts from the day of Makar Sankranti only. On this auspicious day, people do fast in Uttar Pradesh eat and offer khichdi. Also, Khichdi Mela is organized at Gorakhdham in Gorakhpur.
- In Bihar, the Makar Sankranti festival is known as Khichdi. On this day, donating urad, rice, gold, woollen clothes, blankets, etc. have their own importance.
- In Maharashtra, all married women donate cotton, oil, and salt to other suhagin or married women on their first Sankrant.
- In Bengal, there is a tradition of donating til after taking bath on Makar Sankrant. A huge fair is also organised every year in Gangasagar.
- Pongal: On the occasion of Makar Sankranti in Tamil Nadu, this festival is celebrated as Pongal for four days.
- Kite Festival: In Gujarat, the kite festival is organized on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
Therefore, in India, the Makar Sankranti festival has its own importance. It is celebrated in various States by different names. So now you may have come to know the history of Makar Sankranti and how is it celebrated.