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Thursday, January 16, 2014




According to Puranas, on the day of Makara Sankranthi, God Sun pays visit to the house of his son Shani (Saturn) who is the swami of Makar Rashi (Capricorn Zodiac sign).
Makara Sankranti is the day when the Sun begins its movement away from the Tropic of Capricorn and towards the northern hemisphere and this period from Makara Sankranthi to Karka Sankranthi is known as uttarayan (northward revolution).
To Hindus, the Sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makara Sankranti signifies that we should turn away from the darkness of delusion in which we live, and begin to enjoy a new life with bright light within us to shine brighter and brighter. We should gradually begin to grow in purity, wisdom and knowledge even as the Sun does from the Day of Makara Sankranti.
The festival of Makara Sankranti is highly regarded by the Hindus from north to south. The day is known by various names and a variety of traditions are witnessed as one explores the festival in different states.
Owing to the vast geography and diversity of culture in India, this festival is celebrated for innumerable reasons and in innumerable ways depending on the climate, agricultural environment, cultural background and location. On this day children fly kites.
Date and significance

Winter Solstice
Makar Sankranti has an astrological significance, as the sun enters the Capricorn (Sanskrit: Makara) zodiac constellation on that day. This date remains almost constant with respect to the Gregorian calendar. However, precession of the earth's axis (called ayanamsa) causes Makara Sankranti to slide further over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makara Sankranti was on 31 December and is now on 14 January. Five thousand years later, it shall be by the end of February, while in 9,000 years it shall come in June.[citation needed]. According to calculations, from 2050 Makar Sankranti will fall on January 15.
Makara Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. Many Indians also conflate this festival with the Winter Solstice, and believe that the sun ends its southward journey (Sanskrit: Dakshinayana) at the Tropic of Capricorn, and starts moving northward (Sanskrit: Uttarayaana) towards the Tropic of Cancer, in the month of Pausha on this day in mid-January. There is no observance of Winter Solstice in the Hindu religion. Makara Sankranti commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makara in Sanskrit, this occasion is named as Makara Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year (or may be sometimes on 15 January (leap year)).

Makara Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said as the 'holy phase of transition'. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be sanctified in any Hindu family, this day onwards. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.
All over the country, Makara Sankranti is observed with great fanfare. However, it is celebrated with distinct names and rituals in different parts of the country. In the states of northern and western India, the festival is celebrated as the Sankranti day with special zeal and fervour. The importance of this day has been signified in the ancient epics like Mahabharata also. So, apart from socio-geographical importance, this day also holds a historical and religious significance. As it is the festival of Sun God and he is regarded as the symbol divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.

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