So the first festival of the year is here. Makar Sankranti will be celebrated on 14th January this year. I like festivals and I totally love this one too but not everybody knows the reason behind the celebration of this festival.
Today I shall share with you about the reasons behind its celebration and how it is celebrated throughout the nation. Read on:
Makar Sankranti is among the most auspicious occasions for Hindus and is celebrated in almost all parts of India in the third week of January. It is a festival of harvest and is celebrated in many cultural forms with great devotion and cheerfulness. Makar Sankranti is one such festival that is celebrated on the same date every year i.e. 14th January but only for few exceptions the festival may be celebrated on 13th January and 15th January.
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The festival of Makar Sankranti is referred to the transitional phase where the Sun transits or moves from the house of Sagittarius to the house of Capricorn. Makar Sankranti signifies lighting inner self and is also known as the festival of thanksgiving.
There is some astrological and mythological significance behind the celebration of Makar Sakranti:
The festival “Makar Sankranti” has the significance of its celebration in its name, Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti means Transition. There is a transition of Sun from the house of one Zodiac Sign to the house of other Zodiac sign, twelve months for twelve zodiac signs. Out of all the transitions, the transition of Sun from the house of Dhanu (Sagittarius) to the house of Makar (Capricorn) is considered to be the most important transition of Sun. This day is considered to be the one of the most auspicious day and marks the beginning of the six month long UTTARAYANA.
It is also believed that from the day Makar Sankranti the days begin to be warmer and longer and thereby gradually heading towards the decline in the chills of the winter season.
- According to the Puranas, on this day the SUN “Surya Devta” visits the house of his son “Shani”, who owns the house of Makar Raashi “SAGITTARIUS”.
The father and son did not ever get along well but despite of all the differences between them. The father “SUN” visits the house of his son “SHANI” and stays with the son for a month.
- From the day of Makar Sankrant starts the day of the “DEVTAS”. In Rajasthan there is a term called “Mal MAAS”, the month where no auspicious deeds are done, and the day of Makar Sankranti marks the end of “Mal Maas”.
- On the day of Makar Sankranti, Lord Vishnu brought an end to the negatives powers, “ASURAS”. Lord Vishnu buried the heads of the Asuras under the ‘Mandar Parvat’. The day signifies the end of the negative energies and the new beginnings of moral livings.
- Bhishma Pitamah from Mahabharat had a boon of Ichcha- Mrityu and he chose the day of Makar Sakranti to die. He kept lying on the beds of arrows till the day of Makar Sankranti and his soul let his body on this day. It is believed that one who dies on this day and during this period of Uttarayana achieves “Mukti”, i.e. free from the circle of transmigration.
CULTURE & CELEBRATION
Indian is a land of diversities; each festival here is celebrated in a different way in different states and so is the celebration and pooja of Makar Sankranti is different throughout the nation. Have a look at how our land of diversities celebrates Makar Sankranti.
Makar Sankranti is known as Sankrant here and is one of the major festivals. The day is celebrated with special Rajasthani delicacies and sweets such as Til-paati, Gajak, Ghevar, Pakodi, Puwa, Til-laddoo and Pheeni.
The ladies from Rajasthan observe a unique ritual in which they give a type of object relating to household, Suhaag or Food to 14 married women. The object is never repeated and it is a new object every year. People also give many other kinds of small gifts such as til-gud (jaggery), fruits, dry khichadi, etc. to Brahmins or to the needy people.
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 Pandits on this auspicious day of Makar Sankranti grant scholarships to their students for higher studies in astrology and philosophy. They exchange till- laddus and til- pattis among neighbors.
Kite flying is a major attraction here. Kite flying in Gujarat has become an internationally well-known event.
In Uttar Pradesh, Makar Sankranti 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 of Makar Sankranti.
In Punjab huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankranti which is celebrated as “LOHRI”. Sweets, sugarcane, revdi and rice are thrown in the bonfires, around which friends and relatives gather together.
The following day, which is the day of Makar Sankranti, is celebrated as MAGHI. The Punjabi males dance their famous Bhangra dance and Women play Giddas, later a sumptuous dinner follows. In Punjab Kite Flying is done on Lohri i.e. on 13th January.
In Maharashtra on the day of Makar Sankranti people exchange multi-colored til guds made from til (sesame seeds) and til-laddus, offer Til-polis for lunch. While exchanging til guds as tokens of goodwill people greet each other saying – ‘til-gud ghya, god god bola’ meaning ‘accept these tilguds and speak sweet words’.
This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra; married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ and exchange gifts of any utensil, which the woman of the house purchases on that day.
Every year in Bengal a huge Fair i.e. Mela is held at Ganga Sagar. This mela is attended by a large number of pilgrims from all over the country.
In Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated as a four-day harvest festival known as Pongal. It is a big event for the people of Andhra Pradesh and 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 Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti is known by the name of ‘Pongal’ and this festival has more significance than Diwali. It is very popular especially amongst farmers. Rice and pulses cooked together in ghee and milk is offered to the family deity after the ritual worship. In South the Makar Sankranti is a ‘Puja’ for the Sun God.
The 40 days Anushthana performed by the devotees of Ayyappa ends on this day of Makar Sankranti in Sabarimala with a big celebration.
Bundelkhand & Madhya Pradesh
In Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh this festival of Sankrant is known by the name ‘Sankrant’ and is celebrated with great joy accompanied by lot of sweets.
In Assam, the festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu with feasting that lasts for a week. Young people erect makeshift huts, known as Meji, from bamboo, leaves and thatch, in which they eat the food prepared for the feast, and then burn the huts the next morning. The celebrations also feature traditional Assamese games such as Tekeli Bhonga (pot-breaking) and Buffalo Fighting.
This was all about Makar Sankranti. People on this day wake up early pray to Surya Devta and spend a day filled with morals and positivities.
Wish you all a Happy Makar Sankranti
I am going to fly kites and bother not about my skin getting tanned, distribute sweets and clothes.
How are you going to celebrate Makar Sankranti?
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