This year 15th January was observed as Makar Sankranti when the Sun requires 1 day extra posterior to every 72 years in the sky as per the solar calendar.

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Makar Sankranti Celebration

The ages-old festival Makar Sankranti devoted to the Lord Surya (sun) is acclaimed each year in the lunar month of Magha according to the Hindu calendar which correlates with January as per the Gregorian calendar. This festival has its own religious and historical significance in India. It signifies the first day of the sun’s traverse into Makara (Capricorn) indicating the completion of winter solstice and the beginning of ever-lengthening days. This day commemorates the solar cycle which befall approximately on the same Gregorian date every year (January 14/15), except in some years when the date shifts by 24 hours for that year.

The whole nation was braced to bid welcome to the warmth of the Lohri, spread the Makar Sankranti intensity and impart the Pongal wishes. This day is marked as the new season of harvesting which is commemorated in distinctive ways all across the nation.

According to the solar cycle of Hindu lunisolar calendar, Makar Sankranti is usually observed on the same date each year i.e. on January 14th but sometimes on 15th January. Every year the Sun arrives 20 minutes late at the similar location, which means the Sun requires 1 day in addition to conclude 72 years in the sky. 

This year, Makar Sankranti was celebrated with great enthusiasm and zest on 15th January all across the nation.

Importance of Makar Sankranti

Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti is transition. The commemoration of this festival carries diverse cultural significance geographically if we move from one place to another. Each state celebrates and welcomes the traditional feast in its indigenous way. Before Makar Sankranti, the sun is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the winter nights are usually longer and the days are smaller. Makar Sankranti is also known as Uttarayan when the Sun begins its journey towards northern hemisphere and then the days will be longer and nights will be smaller. Hence, people perform several spiritual practices like taking a holy bath in the sacred rivers or lakes Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri at holy places, chant mantras, donate dal, rice, til etc in a ceremony of thanking to the sun. It is believed that a devotee’s past sins are forgiven after taking a holy dip in the early hours in sacred rivers on Maghi. The sun influence all the zodiac signs especially Cancer and Capricorn in a beneficial way.

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Posterior to every twelve years, Makar Sankranti is marked as the world’s largest mass pilgrimages for Hindus (which means Jupiter completes one revolution around the Sun) with approximately 40 to 100 million people’s gatherings. This grand event is recognized as ‘Kumbh Mela’. 

The period from Karka Sankranti to Makar Sankranti is recognized as the Dakshinayan. 

There are various festivities allianced with Makar Sankranti like Magh Bihu in Assam, Maghi (preceded by Lohri ) in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, celebrated majorly amongst Hindus and Sikhs, Sukarat in Central India, Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Ghughuti in Uttarakhand and Makar Sankranti in Odisha, Karnataka, Mahrashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh (Also recognized as Pedda Pandaga) , Telangana, West Bengal (also known as Poush Sankranti) and Uttar Pradesh (also known as Khichdi Sankranti). Many activities are performed on this day such as flying kites, vibrant decorations, rural children go house to house , sings and ask for the treats, fairs, dances, bonfires and feasts.

People cook various traditional dishes at their homes like churma of ghee, halwa and kheer. The brothers or parents of every married woman visits her home with warm apparels for her in-laws, gifts, winter desserts such as til or moongfali ki patti, til ke laddoo, dates, gajjak, ghewar, pakodi, puwa, pheeni etc. They also get rice and moong dal as a Sagun for their daughter’s family. This ritual is known as ‘Sidha’. Women offer presents to her in-laws and this ritual is called ‘Manana’. Women sings folk songs, dances and enjoy the festivity. 

Hindus believe that lighting lamps with sesame oil at house on this day drives away all the sins and brings prosperity. Sri Muktsar Sahib in Punjab observes a major mela celebrating the Sikh’s historical event. 

On this day, the sky in Jaipur, Hadoti regions and Gujarat is covered with colourful kites. Youngsters are engaged in the competitions cutting the strings of other’s kites for the whole day and enjoy the musical beats alongwith. In Maharshtra, people exchange til-gul as tokens of love and goodwill and forgets the past ill-feelings and antagonism. They are determined to be polite with each other and promise to remain friends forever. This festival is celebrated as Pongal in Tamil Nadu for four long days. People in Bengal have tradition of donating til after taking bathe on Makar Sankranti. All newly wed women donate cotton, oil and salt to other Suhagin on their first Sankrant. Donating Urad, rice, gold, woolen, blankets etc. in Bihar has its own significance. 

Thus, every state has different customs and cultures to commemorate this day with different names. 

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Makar Sankranti Images on India Content Website

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