Makar Sankranti is also called Uttarayan, has its own historical and religious significance in India. It is celebrated in January every year and marks the Winter season’s termination and the beginning of a new harvest season and generally celebrated on 14 January.
It is dedicated to Lord Sun. It refers to an auspicious solar day in the Hindu date calendar. On a bright day, the sun enters Capricorn or Makar’s zodiac sign, which marks the end of winter months and the beginning of longer days. This is the start of the month of Magh.
Makar Sankranti : To repay for the distinction that happens due to the revolution around the sun, the day of Sankranti is deferred by one day every 80 years. The sun starts its northward or Uttarayan journey from the day. Therefore, the festival is also called Uttarayan.
Facts about Makar Sankranti
- As per the legend, Sankranti has deemed a Deity who killed a devil named Sankarasur. The next day is called Kinkrant or Karidin. On this day, Devi slew the devil Kinkarasur.
- The information of the festival is always available in Panchang. The Panchang is the Hindu Almanac providing 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 a 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 it 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 when the northward movement of the sun starts. The duration between Karka Sankranti to Makar Sankranti is called the Dakshinayan.
History of Makar Sankranti
According to the scriptures, Dakshinayan symbolizes God’s night or the sign of negativity, and Uttarayan is considered a symbol of the day of God or a movement of positivity. Since Makar Sankranti day, the sun starts its journey towards the north. People take a holy dip in holy rivers like Ganga, Godavari, Krishna, Yamuna River at sacred places, chant mantras, etc. Usually, the sun affects all the zodiac signs, but it is known that the coming of the sun in the Cancer and Capricorn zodiac sign is very religiously fruitful.
Before Makar Sankranti, astronomically, the sun is in the Southern Hemisphere. That is why in India, in winter nights are longer and days are smaller. But with the festival, the sun begins its journey towards Northern Hemisphere and so, days will be longer and nights shorter.
People express their gratitude towards India’s people throughout the year by worshipping the sun God in various forms on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. Any meritorious donations or deeds during the period establishes more fruitful results.
They perform Haldi Kumkum ceremony in a way that invokes the waves of quiescent Adi – Shakti in the Universe to get triggered. This helps generate 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 other names.
Lohri: One day before it, Lohri is celebrated in India with enthusiasm mainly in Haryana and Punjab. People gather around the bonfire and put til, puffed rice & popcorns into the bonfire at night. Prayers are offered to the bonfire to seek abundance & prosperity.
Festival of Donation “or” Khichdi “: In Uttar Pradesh, it is mainly the ‘Donation’ festival. 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 festival is known as Khichdi. On this day, donating urad, rice, gold, woollen clothes, blankets, etc. have their importance.
In Maharashtra, all married women donate cotton, oil, and salt to other married women on their first Sankrant.
In Bengal, there is a tradition of donating til after taking a bath on Makar Sankrant. A huge fair is also organized 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 festival has its 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 marked.