The Makar Sankranti is a festival of grand gesture celebrated in most parts of India and Nepal at the time of the first harvest of the year, showing their gratitude to farmers, mother nature and praying for the well-being of all people. It is a major celebrated festival of Hinduism, and it is celebrated by following different customs in various states of India. It is a festival of joy and zest.
History Of Makar Sankranti
The word Makar Sankranti has an Indo-Aryan origin, which means the transition of the sun into Capricorn zodiac sign (Makara)on its celestial path, that happens to occur on January 14th or 15th of every year based on the solar calendar, as the sun plays a significant role in this festival, it is dedicated to Surya, lord of the sun and It is also believed that Bhishma Pithmah, chose uttarayan as his time of death while lying on a bed of arrows.
It’s a myth that people who die during this time go directly to heaven. Some legends even say that Sankranti is named after the deity who killed a demon called sankarasurar.
Apart from all mythological reason, this festival also has scientific significance, from the time of July to December, the sun travels downwards on the other side, at the time of January the sun begins its journey upwards on the north side, which marks the end of the winter solstice and thus lengthens the day time.
Hence this festival is also known as “uttaarayan” where ‘Uttara’ means “north” and ‘ayan’ means “ movement,” movement of sun towards the north. This time period is considered to be a time of enlightenment and grace, and humans tend to have maximum potential to harvest during this period.
The Makar Sankranti festival is known by different names in different states of India, In Maharashtra is it called as ‘Pedda Pandaga’, ‘Sukarat’ in central India, ‘Pongal’ or ‘Thai Pongal’ in Tamilnadu, ‘Magh Bihu’ in Assam, ‘Poush Shongkranti’ in West Bengal, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka. This festival is also called as ‘Lohri’ by Sikhs and Hindus of North Indians, Punjab.
Rituals of Makar Sankranti
People in different states follow different rituals on this auspicious day of Makar Sankranti; generally, people wake up early and do Surya namaskar to praise lord Surya, and devotees take a dip in holy waters such as Ganga and Yamuna, as a gesture of washing their sins. In-home, people take a warm bath and wear new dresses and do pooja and pray with their families.
The communities come together and share sweets, mainly ladoos made up of sesame and jaggery and celebrate their joys.
Flying kites: one could see colourful kites flying high on the clear blue sky on the day of Makar Sankranti, this is an important tradition followed by most communities, the kites flying high is of perspective to let go of things that weigh us down and reach heights and shine in life.
Many competitions for flying kites happen in various parts of India, the international kite festival takes place in Ahmedaba, Gujarat.
Lohri: This ritual is mainly followed by Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab and other places of north India. It is celebrated one day before Makar Sankranti, where people lit the bonfire made of wood logs, people surround it and throw jaggery, rice, pulses as a gesture of offering and some people chant around the fire by pouring water and milk around it, paying respect to the traditional natural element, fire and they celebrate, sing and dance.
They perform their traditional bhangra and gidda. People eat the roasted corns from the new harvest. It is celebrated mainly on the occasion of sugarcane harvest in Punjab.
Also Read: Essay On Pongal For Students
Pongal: The occasion of Maha Sankranthi in Tamilnadu is celebrated for four days, the first day is called as ‘bhogi’, where the old things are burned in flames, as a way of indicating to pave the way for new things, the second day called as ‘Thai Pongal’, on this day people pray to the sun god and make a sweet dish made up of jaggery, rice and milk and the third day is called as ‘Mattu Pongal’ is significant for cows, on this day farmers and cows are thanked for their service to mankind and then on the last day of Pongal, also known as ‘Khanum Pongal’ people go out with families, to cherish their family bonding.
Khichdi: It is also known as the “festival of donation”, In Uttar Pradesh people fast on this day and eat and offer khichdi, In Bihar, people donate urad, rice, clothes, blankets on this day, In Maharashtra women donate cotton, oil, salt to married women for their first Sankranti after marriage. In Karnataka, people share a plate called “Ellu Birodhu” that consists of sweet made of a sesame seed, jaggery, fried peanuts and dry coconut, and candies and piece of sugarcane, with their dear ones.
This festival is a symbol of joy and happiness, despite all the differences we celebrate together for the same cause, this shows the unity of our country.
Frequently Asked Questions
1.What are the things we do on the day of Sankranti?
Ans: People generally wake up soon in their morning to show their gratitude to the sun god Surya, and take a bath early and pray to god and share sweets and joy ness with friends and neighbours and spend time with their family. Some people donate their old stuff, as a sign to start a fresh beginning.
2.What are the foods made on the day of Sankranti?
Ans: Sweets are the main aspect of this occasion. Various kinds of sweets are prepared in different states. The popular sweets are til Ladoos (made of sesame and jaggery ), sweet Pongal(made of rice and jaggery ), kheer(rice and milk), Appalu (rice flour and jaggery). It some parts they also keep fasting and have khichdi on this day.
3.Why do we fly kites on the day of Makar Sankranti?
Ans: This ritual is followed to spend happy time with family members, friends and play with joy on this auspicious day and also scientifically the exposure to sunlight after the chilly winter times kills the bacteria and also provides us with enrichment of vitamin D.