Introduction of Makar Sankranti:
Sankranti is one of the most auspicious day for
the Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad
cultural forms, with great devotion, fervor & gaiety. Lakhs of people
take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar & Prayag and pray to Lord Sun. It
is celebrated with pomp in southern parts of the country as Pongal, and in Punjab is celebrated as Lohri & Maghi. Gujarati's
not only look reverentially up to the sun, but also offer thousands of
their colorful oblations in the form of beautiful kites all over the
skyline. They may be trying to reach upto their glorious God or bring about
greater proximity with the one who represents the best. It is a day for
which Bhishma Pitamah kept waiting to leave his mortal coil.
Sankranti is the day when the glorious Sun-God of Hindus begins its
ascendancy and entry into the Northern Hemisphere. Sun for the Hindus
stands for Pratyaksha-Brahman - the manifest God, who symbolizes, the one,
non-dual, self-effulgent, glorious divinity blessing one & all
tirelessly. Sun is the one who transcends time and also the one who rotates
the proverbial Wheel of Time. The famous Gayatri Mantra, which is chanted
everyday by every faithful Hindu, is directed to Sun God to bless them with
intelligence & wisdom. Sun not only represents God but also stands for
an embodiment of knowledge & wisdom. Lord Krishna reveals in Gita that
this manifested divinity was his first disciple, and we all know it to be
indeed a worthy one too. No Sundays for the Sun, may be because one who
revels in its very 'being', the very essence of his own Self, is always in
the Sunday mood.
co-relation of cosmic events with individual life and values is one of the
most astounding traits of Hindu Masters. Once this co-relation is brought
about thereafter these cosmic events become instrumental to remind us the
best which we cherish & value. Of all the cosmic bodies Sun is the most
glorious & important, thus every sun-centric cosmic event became very
important spiritual, religious & cultural events. On Makar Sankranti
day the Sun begins its ascendancy and journey into the Northern Hemisphere,
and thus it signifies an event wherein the Gods seem to remind their
children that 'Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya'. May you go higher & higher -
to more & more Light and never to darkness.
means Capricorn and Sankranti is transition. There is a sankranti every
month when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next. There
are twelve signs of the zodiac, and thus there are twelve sankranti's as
well. Each of these sankranti's has its own relative importance but two of
these are more important - the Mesh (Aries)
Sankranti and the most important, the Makar (Capricorn) Sankranti.
Transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn, during the winter
solstice in the northern hemisphere is known as Makar Sankranti. From this
day begins the six-month long Uttarayana, considered very auspicious for
attaining higher worlds hereafter. While the traditional Indian Calendar is
basically based on lunar positions, but sankranti is a solar event, so
while dates of all festivals keep changing, the english calendar date of
Makar Sankranti is always same, 14th January. Makar Sankranti is celebrated
in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha. There is another significance of this
day, after this day the days start becoming longer & warmer, and thus
the chill of winter in on decline.
Puranas say that on this day Sun visits the house of his son Shani, who is
the swami of Makar Rashi. These father & son do not ordinarily get
along nicely, but inspite of any difference between each other Lord Sun
makes it a point to meet each other on this day. Father in fact himself
comes to his son’s house, for a month. This day symbolized the importance
of special relationship of father & son. It is the son who has the
responsibility to carry forward his fathers dream and the continuity of the
2. From Uttarayana starts the ‘day’ of
Devatas, while dakshinayana is said to be the ‘night’ of devatas, so most
of the auspicious things are done during this time. Uttarayana is also
called as Devayana, and the next half is called Pitrayana.
3. It was on this day when Lord Vishnu ended
the ever increasing terrorism of the Asuras by finishing them off and
burying their heads under the Mandar Parvat. So this occasion also
represents the end of negativities and beginning of an era of righteous
great savior of his ancestors, Maharaj Bhagirath, did great Tapasya to
bring Gangaji down on the earth for the redemption of 60,000 sons of
Maharaj Sagar, who were burnt to ashes at the Kapil Muni Ashram, near the
present day Ganga Sagar. It was on this day that Bhagirath finally did
tarpan with the Ganges water for his
unfortunate ancestors and thereby liberated them from the curse. After
visiting the Patala for the redemption of the curse of Bhagirath’s
ancestors Gangaji finally merged in the Sagar. Even today a very big Ganga
Sagar Mela is organized every year on this day at the confluence of River
Ganges and the Bay of Bengal. Lakhs take
dip in the water and do tarpan for their ancestors.
such a great devotee & benefactor of his ancestors. One who can express
such gratitude to his ancestors, work with tireless resolve to redeem the
pride, pledges & resolves of his forefathers, alone possess a
personality, which the history reveals to be a true benefactor of the world
too. A person who has severed his own roots gets soon rooted out in the
flow of time. Moral of the story is to see to it that the roots of the tree
of ‘our’ life are not only intact but nourished well, thereafter alone the
tree blooms & flourishes.
another spiritually symbolic aspect of this story. The 60,000 cursed son of
Maharaj Sagar represent our thoughts, who become
dull & dead-like because of uncultured & blind ambition. Redemption
of such people is only by the waters of Gangaji, brought down ‘to’ &
later ‘from’ the Himalayas with great
tapasya. This represents dedicated hard work to get the redeeming
Brahma-Vidya, which alone enlightens, enthuses & enlivens the life of
well-known reference of this day came when the great grandsire of
Mahabharata fame, Bhishma, declared his intent to leave his mortal coil on
this day. He had the boon of Ichha-Mrityu from his father, so he kept lying
on the bed of arrows till this day and then left his mortal coil on Makar
Sankranti day. It is believed that the person, who dies during the period
of Uttarayana, becomes free from transmigration. So this day was seen as a
sure-shot Good Luck day to start your journey or endeavors to the higher
Culture & Festivities:
festival is celebrated differently in different parts of the country.
Pradesh, Sankrant is called ‘Khichiri’. Taking a dip in the holy rivers on this
day is regarded as most auspicious. A big one-month long ‘Magha-Mela’ fair
begins at Prayag (Allahabad)
on this occasion. Apart from Triveni, ritual bathing also takes place at
many places like Haridvar and Garh Mukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh, and
Patna in Bihar.
every year a very big Mela is held at Ganga Sagar where the river Ganga is
believed to have dived into the nether region and vivified the ashes of the
sixty thousand ancestors of King Bhagirath. This mela is attended by a large
number of pilgrims from all over the country.
Nadu Sankrant is known by the name of ‘Pongal’, which takes its name from
the surging of rice boiled in a pot of milk, and this festival has more
significance than even Diwali. It is very popular particularly amongst
farmers. Rice and pulses cooked together in ghee and milk is offered to the
family deity after the ritual worship. In essence in the South this
Sankrant is a ‘Puja’ (worship) for the Sun God.
Pradesh, it is celebrated as a three-day harvest festival Pongal. It is a
big event for the people of Andhra Pradesh. The Telugus like to call it
'Pedda Panduga' meaning big festival. The whole event lasts for four days,
the first day Bhogi, the second day Sankranti, the third day Kanuma and the
fourth day, Mukkanuma.
In Maharashtra on the Sankranti day people exchange
multi-colored tilguds made from til (sesame seeds) and sugar and til-laddus
made from til and jaggery. Til-polis are offered
for lunch. While exchanging tilguls as tokens of goodwill people greet each
other saying – ‘til-gul ghya, god god bola’ meaning ‘accept these tilguls
and speak sweet words’. The under-lying thought in the exchange of tilguls
is to forget the past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak
sweetly and remain friends.
This is a
special day for the women in Maharashtra
when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ and
given gifts of any utensil, which the woman of the house purchases on that
Sankrant is observed more or less in the same manner as in Maharashtra but
with a difference that in Gujarat there is
a custom of giving gifts to relatives. The elders in the family give gifts
to the younger members of the family. The Gujarati Pundits on this
auspicious day grant scholarships to students for higher studies in
astrology and philosophy. This festival thus helps the maintenance of
social relationships within the family, caste and community.
flying has been associated with this festival in a big way. It has become
an internationally well-known event.
In Punjab where December and January are the coldest
months of the year, huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankrant and which
is celebrated as "LOHARI". Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown
in the bonfires, around which friends and relatives gather together. The
following day, which is Sankrant, is celebrated as MAGHI. The Punjabi's
dance their famous Bhangra dance till they get exhausted. Then they sit
down and eat the sumptuous food that is specially prepared for the
days anushthana by the devotees of Ayyappa ends on this day in Sabarimala
with a big festival.
Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh this festival of Sankrant is known by the
name ‘Sakarat’ and is celebrated with great pomp & merriment
accompanied by lot of sweets.
Tribals of Orissa:
tribals in our country start their New Year from the day of Sankrant by
lighting bonfires, dancing and eating their particular dishes sitting
together. The Bhuya tribals of Orissa have their Maghyatra in which small
home-made articles are put for sale.
In Assam, the
festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu.
coastal regions, it is a harvest festival dedicated to Indra.
How to Celebrate:
1. Get up
early in the morning, before sunrise, have bath and be ready with water
& flowers for the sunrise. Worship the rising Sun, by offering water,
flowers with both the hands & then pray with folded hands by chanting
the Gayatri Mantra and pray for knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment to rise
in the similar way to greater & greater heights. Pray for blessings to
live a dynamic, inspired & righteous life.
tarpan for your ancestors. Offer water to the ancestors while praying for
their blessings. Resolve to redeem the pledges & pride of your
forefathers. Live life in such a way that wherever your forefathers may be
their head is held high by the life & deeds of their children.
3. Have a
special session of Meditation, wherein you bring about the awareness of the
self-effulgent subjective divinity. Affirm the greatest importance of your
spiritual goal very clearly, and pray to God to bless you with the capacity
to constantly revel in your true self. May the graph of your rise like the
Uttarayana Sun. May there be greater 'Love & Light' in your life &
laddus or other sweets of Til & Gur and offer them to your friends
& relatives. See to it that your ‘Well-being Prayer for all’ gets
manifested in action & deeds.
the lunch of Khichiri. This stands for inculcating simplicity in your life
some Daan on this day to someone who truly deserves.
your son at his place and give presents to the son and the daughter-in-law.
If it is not possible to visit, then organize to send presents to them to
express your love & affection to them. Work to properly cultivate the
generation, which has to carry forward all the best you cherish &