MAKAR SANKRANTI

MAKAR SANKRANTI

Makara Sankranti or Maghi, is a festival day in the Hindu Calendar, dedicated to the deity Surya (sun). It is observed each year in January.It marks the first day of the sun's transit into Makara (Capicorn). marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.
Makara Sankranti  is one of the few ancient Indian festivals that has been observed according to solar cycles, while most festivals are set by the lunar cycle of the lunisolar  Hindu Calendar.Being a festival that celebrates the solar cycle, it almost always falls on the same Gregorian date every year (January 14), except in some years when the date shifts by a day for that year. The festivities associated with Makar Sankranti are known by various names, such as Maghi (preceded by Lohri) by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs, Makara Sankranti (Pedda Pandaga) in Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal (also called Poush sôngkrānti), Karnataka and Telangana, Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu by Assamese, and Thai Pongal by Tamils.
Makara Sankranti is observed with social festivities such as colorful decorations, rural children going house to house, singing and asking for treats in some areas (or pocket money),melas (fairs), dances, kite flying, bonfires and feasts. The Magha Mela, according to Diana L.Eck (professor at Harvard University specializing in Indology), is mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharat.Many observers go to sacred rivers or lakes and bathe in a ceremony of thanks to the sun. Every twelve years, the Hindus observe Makar Sankranti with one of the world's largest mass pilgrimages, with an estimated 40 to 100 million people attending the event. At this event, then they say a prayer to the sun and bathe at the Prayaga confluence of the River Ganga and River Yamuna at the Kumbh Mela a tradition attributed to Adi Shankaracharya.

  • DATE
Makara Sankranti is set by the solar cycle of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, and is observed on a day which usually falls on 14 January of the Gregorian calendar, but sometimes on 15 January.It signifies the arrival of longer days. Makar Sankranti falls in the Hindu Calendar solar month of Makara, and the lunar month of Magha (the festival is also called Magha Sankranti or Magha festival in parts of India). It marks the end of the month with winter solscate for India and the longest night of the year, a month that is called Pausha in the lunar calendar and Dhanu in the solar calendar in the Vikrami system. The festival celebrates the first month with consistently longer days.
There are two different systems to calculate the Makara Sankranti date: nirayana (without adjusting for precession of equinoxes, sidereal) and sayana (with adjustment, tropical). The January 14 date is based on the nirayana system, while the sayana system typically computes to about December 23, per most Siddhanta texts for Hindu Calendar. As per the solar calendar, after one year, the Sun comes to the same location 20 minutes late every year, which means the Sun needs 1 day extra after every 72 years in the sky. That's the reason why Makar Sankranti sometimes shifts from 14 January to 15 January, and so on.

  • SIGNIFICANCE

This festival is dedicated to the Hindu religious sun god Surya. This significance of Surya is traceable to the Vedic texts, particularly the Gayatri Mantr, a sacred hymn of Hinduism found in its scripture named the Rigveda. The festival also marks the beginning of a six-month auspicious period for Hindus known as Uttarayana.
Makara Sankranti is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly, people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. The bathing is believed to result in merit or absolution of past sins. They also pray to the sun and thank for their successes and prosperity. A shared cultural practices found amongst Hindus of various parts of India is making sticky, bound sweets particularly from sesame and a sugar base such as jaggery (gud, gur). This type of sweet is a symbolism for being together in peace and joyfulness, despite the uniqueness and differences between individuals. For most parts of India, this period is a part of early stages of the Rabi crop and agricultural cycle, where crops have been sown and the hard work in the fields is mostly over. The time thus signifies a period of socializing and families enjoying each other's company, taking care of the cattle, and celebrating around bonfires, in Maharashtra the festival is celebrated by flying kites.
Makara Sankranti is an important pan-Indian solar festival, known by different names though observed on the same date, sometimes for multiple dates around the Makar Sankranti. It is known as Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh, Makara Sankranti in Karnataka and Maharashtra, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Magh Bihu in Assam, Magha Mela in parts of central and north India, as Makar Sankranti in the west, and by other names.In some parts of India it is believed that a demon was killed in that day.

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