A well-known Indian harvest festival, the Makar Sankranti or Sankranti, is mainly observed by Hindus. This commemorates the warmer spring winds arriving in India about the middle of January every year. It is celebrated with considerable enthusiasm and excitement throughout the nation and in some other countries
The biggest harvest festival in India, Makar Sankranti, is observed during the end of the winter season and the beginning of longer days brought on by the sun’s northward motion. This auspicious festival, also known as Sankranti, is a seasonal celebration praising Lord Surya, the Sun God. It recognizes the sun’s entry into the Capricorn zodiac sign or Makara Rashi.
Mahabharata also describes how people at that time regarded the day as promising. Despite suffering several injuries during the Mahabharata War, Bhishma waited until Uttarayan arrived so that he would enter the heavenly abode. As it is believed that dying during Uttarayan
will grant the departed Moksha, or salvation.
History Behind Sankranti
Sankranti, the god who gave the celebration its name, is regarded as a goddess. According to Hindu legend, Sankranti killed the demon Sankarasur. The day following Makar Sankranti is known as Karidin or Kinkrant.On this day, the Devi slew the devil Kinkarasur. The sun also has a significant impact on Makar Sankranti.
Before the festival, the planet’s southern hemisphere receives the most sunlight. Nevertheless, it begins to move north during the festival season. The Winter Solstice, also known as Uttarayana, is regarded by Hindus as a precious and happy period. According to the Mahabharata epic, Bhishma, the foremost commander of the Kaurava army, allegedly postponed passing away until the Uttarayana era.
Makar Sankranti is significant because it is the day on which the day and night are measured according to the solar calendar. The days get longer and warmer after this day. It is the day when northern hemisphere residents can mark the period when the sun is getting closer to them by looking at its northward route.
Science Behind Sankranti
The Makar Sankranti celebration marks the sun’s movement from the Tropic of Cancer into the sign of Makar (the Capricorn) and begins its northward trek. It is also remarked as the sun moving from the southern (Dakshinayana) to the northern (Uttarayana) hemisphere. It is among the few selected Hindu festivals in India with a set date. According to the Hindu Solar Calendar, this day always falls in mid-January.
The festival is the first day after which any Hindu family may solemnize its auspicious ceremonial rites. As a result, this is considered the holy transitional moment. In Indian astrology, Sankranti refers to the Sun moving from one zodiac to another. According to traditional Hindu beliefs, there are 12 of these Sankranti. However, the event is only observed on Makar Sankranti, which marks the Sun’s passage from Sagittarius (‘Dhanu’ Rashi) to Capricorn (‘Makara’ Rasi).
To consider the Earth’s precession, the zodiacs are measured sidereal rather than tropically. It follows the tropical winter solstice, which takes place between 20 December and 23 December for around 21 days. Here, the sun symbolizes the Sun’s northern march and marks the beginning of the Uttarayana.
Sankranti Across various States in India and Outside the Country
The festival is fervently observed throughout the Indian states of Bihar, Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu. The celebration is known as Sankranti in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bhogali Bihu in Assam, Lohri in Punjab, Uttararayan in Gujarat, and Uttararayan in Rajasthan.
The festival is celebrated outside India in places like Nepal, where it is called Maghe Sankranti or Maghi. In Thailand, it is called Songkran, and in Myanmar as Thingyan.
Everywhere in India, the Makar Sankranti festival is celebrated with tremendous joy. It is regarded as a day that brings happiness, tranquility, and wealth. Sacred rivers, including the Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri, are bathed in by devotees. They believe that by doing so, their sins are covered.
By engaging in several spiritual deeds, devotes express their gratitude and pay respect to the Sun God. People exchange laddoos and chikkis, which are sesame and jaggery-based sweets. This action represents the desire for harmony, peace, and unity.