makar sankranti

Makar Sankranti Significance and Celebrations


Why is it called Makar Sankranti?

Makar Sankranti literally means the movement of the sun into zodiac sign Capricorn. Because on 14th January, The sun enters into the Indian Rashi Makar (sun-sign Capricorn) and The word ‘Sankranti’ signifies the transition or movement of the sun from one zodiac sign to another. So, this day is named as Makar Sankranti.

Makara Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated with joy and happiness throughout in India and Nepal. Most Hindu festivals follow the position of the moon and are based on the lunar calendar. Thus, the dates of festivals change every year. But this festival falls on the same day every year as it follows the solar calendar. So, It is celebrated on the 14th of January every year.

This festival is celebrated for three days and the middle day is celebrated as Makar Sankranti. In some states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana it is celebrated for four days. 

Makar Sankranti is known by different names in different parts of the region:

Kashmir:- Shishur Saenkraat
Himachal Pradesh:- Magha Saaji
Punjab:- Maghi, Lohri
Gujarat:- Uttarayan
Uttar Pradesh:- Khichdi
Bihar and Jharkhand:- Makar Sankranti or Sakraat or Khichdi
Assam:- Magh Bihu
West Bengal:- Poush Sangkranti
Maharastra:Makar Sankranti
Karnataka:- Makara Sankramana
Kerala:- Makaravilakku
Tamil Nadu:- Thai Pongal

Reason #1
An auspicious or holy phase of transition.

Makar Sankranti festival falls on the equinox, the time of day and night on 14th January are believed to be equally same. The festival  traditionally coincides with the beginning of the Sun’s northward journey (the Uttarayan) when it enters the sign of Makar (the Capricorn). It is believed that Uttarayan is the day time period for God and Dakshinayan is the night for them. So, Uttarayan is considered as beginning of an auspicious period.

Reason #2
Beginning of spring and harvesting season.

Makar Sankranti is also believed to mark the end of chilled winter and arrival of spring in India as the days become longer and warmer after this. It is a harvest festival celebrated in India which marks the end of harvesting season as well an indication for the early phases of the agricultural cycle. It is a time to pray for a prosperous growing season with new beginning of a future harvest.

Reason #3
Welcoming the new phase with purity.

Makar Sankranti is a festival to welcome about forgetting the sad moments which happened in the past and welcoming the new phase of life with full of purity, knowledge, and wisdom. The festival highlights the importance of withdrawing from unethical and disturbing behavior.

Reason #4
Seasonal Biochemical change.

The transition from one season to another means winter to spring. The biochemical changes in the body become conducive to perform, eating of sesame and jaggery is considered beneficial to health as they are warm foods as it signifies bonding of good health which can give energy and also keep their body warm. Hence it is especially consumed during the winter season of Makar Sankranti.

Reason #5
Conveys a deeper message that God is the Sutradhara.

Kites are flown in many parts of the subcontinent to conveys a deeper message that God is the Sutradhara — holding the string of living beings life. String tensions of push and pull refers to the grief and happiness of life which allows the kite to fly higher. If he lets it lose, the kite cannot fly.

Reason #6
Symbolizes the healthy relationship between father and son.

According to Puran, Capricorn is the sign of Saturn (Shani); the Sun on this day enters the sigh of Saturn. The Sun is the father of Saturn and as per Hindu mythology, father (Sun) and son (Shani) don’t get along well. But on this day, the father goes to meet his son. Both Saturn and Sun are mighty planets whose auspicious blessings can make humans achieve great success. Hence, on Makar Sankranti, people pray to both sun and Saturn. It also denotes the son’s respect towards his father by taking his responsibility. So this day symbolizes the healthy relationship between father and son. Everyone is asked to spread joy around and celebrate by exchanging sweets made of jaggery.

Reason #7
Flying Kites Celebration to gets rid of harmful bacteria.

Ancient Indian beliefs held that winter brings lots of germs, bacteria’s infections that caused sickness. Basking in the early morning sun of Makar Sankranti helps to get rid of harmful bacteria and becomes capable of protecting itself on its own. Because it allows people to bask in early morning sun when sun rays are gentle which is beneficial for the skin and helps in cleansed of infections, cold, cough and dry skin that are very common in the winter season. Kite-flying became a mode of making this sun basking a little more interesting and fun.

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