India is the land of festivals. On our back seat, we always carry some festival with us. We celebrate many festivals, some are religious festivals and some are national festivals. But today we are going to talk about a Harvest Festival, Makar Sankranti.
Today we are going to discuss everything about festival of Makar Sankranti. What does Sankranti mean? Why is Makar Sankranti on 15th? Why do we celebrate Sankranti festival? How Sankranti is celebrated? And what is the story behind Sankranti?
What does Sankranti mean?
Meaning of Makar Sankranti:
Makar Sankranti derives from two words-
- Makar means Capricorn
- Sankranti means transition
So, Makar Sankranti means the transition of the sun in the zodiac sign, Capricorn.
Sankranti signifies “movement”, so Makar Sankranti is a festival to recognize the movement.
- movement being celebration
- movement being life
- movement is the process of life
- movement of the beginning and end of life
Why is Makar Sankranti on 15th?
Hindu Astrology goes back 5,000 years & the zodiac calendar & signs were documented in our Vedas.
The festival is celebrated every year on 14 or 15 January depending upon the solar cycle, to mark the first day of the sun’s transition to Capricorn.
It signifies the arrival of longer days. It’s the day when people welcome the new season & start new projects.
This festival follows the solar cycle, so is held on the same day every year, 14th Jan or on 15th jan for leap year. Most other Hindu festivals follow the lunar cycle, so the date changes according to the Moon’s orbit’s timings.
Which God is worshipped on Sankranti? What is the story behind Sankranti?
Makar Sankranti is considered one of the most auspicious festivals according to Hindu mythology, dedicated to the Lord Surya or Sun God.
It is believed that on Makar Sankranti ‘Surya’ (Sun God) visits his son ‘Shani’ (saturn).
It is also believed that gods come to earth on Makar Sankranti to take bath in River Ganga & has become customary to have a dip in the ganges river to harness the positivity of the gods & to thank the Sun for life itself!
Every twelve years, marking one complete revolution cycle of Jupiter around the Sun, the Hindus observe a special Makar Sankranti with one of the world’s largest mass pilgrimages, where a record-breaking up to 100 million people attend the event, called Kumbha mela.
It is believed that taking a dip in the holy ‘Triveni Sangam’, which is the point where three holy Rivers met namely Ganga, Yamuna, and the Brahmaputra at Prayagraj, washes off your sins.
This festival is also mentioned in our sacred epic, Mahabharata.
How Sankranti is celebrated?
Makara Sankranti, which signifies the increase of spiritual light is celebrated with great joy & happiness & observed with social festivities such as:
- rural children going house to house, singing, and asking for treats in some areas
- kite flying, symbolizing the diverse culture of India
- colorful decorations
- dancing & feasts, symbolizing social unity
The main cuisine of this festival is a dish made of sesame seeds and sticky sugar called, jaggery, which is distributed throughout the neighborhood.
This type of sweet is a symbolism of being together in peace and joyfulness, despite the uniqueness and differences between individuals.
Makar Sankranti is known by different names in different states of India-
The same festival has different names in different states of India, but the ultimate aim of the festival remains the same throughout the country that is spreading Prosperity, Togetherness and joy.
- Bengal: Poush Parbon
- Gujarat: Uttarayan
- Bihar: Sukarat
- Tamil Nadu: Pongal
- Andhra Pradesh: Pedda Panduga
- Assam: Magh Bihu
- Uttar Pradesh: Khichdi
This day is particularly important in the Sikh history. It’s called Mela Maghi, which is held in memory of the forty Sikh martyrs (Chalis Mukte) who gave their lives to protect Guru Gobind Singhji, the tenth Guru of Sikhism. Its held every year at Muktsar Sahib in Punjab.
Charity is also an important part of the festival. Donating wheat, rice, and sweets to the needy and poor is part of the festival.
It’s a belief, that one who donates with an open heart, will have all obstacle removed & be bestowed with prosperity and happiness in his life.