Indian Hindu Festival | Makar Sankranti Festival (2016)
Makar Sankranti Festival Date 2016
Makar Sankranti this year is on 15 January 2016.
Makar Sankranti Festival
About Makar Sankranti Festival
Makar Sankranti is an Indian Hindu festival celebrated all over India and even in Nepal, in different forms, but always as a harvest festival, no matter which under which name it is celebrated and where.
Many times this festival is simply called Sankranti but this day is the most auspicious for Hindus.
Unlike other Hindu festivals that are dependent on the position of the moon, Makar Sankranti, like a few more festivals is dependent on the Sun's position. Makar Sankranti marks the day when the sun moves into Makar rashi (Capricorn). It also heralds the onset of spring season with the days getting progressively longer and warmer.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated almost always on the 14 January each year barring some years when it is celebrated either on the 13th or 15th January and this year is one of them.
The main celebrations include kite flying in a big way, so much so that, this day is celebrated as the International kite flying day in Ahmedabad city of Gujarat state. It is also, therefore, called as "kite festival".
Since the sun starts its Northward movement this festival is also called "Uttarayana", especially in the state of Gujarat.
Kites & Lights On Makar Sankranti
Importance Of Makar Sankranti
Sankranti means the movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign to the next and since Capricorn is Makara in Hindi it is called Makar Sankranti and this day marks the end of the inauspicious phase and the beginning of the auspicious phase in India for the Hindus.
The importance of this day has been highlighted in the Epic Mahabharata as well and therefore the festival holds historical and religious significance.
Makar Sankranti is the festival of the Sun God.
Regional Makar Sankranti Celebration Names
Makar Sankranti as such, is celebrated in Northern & Western India. Some statewise regional variations in celebrations and its corresponding names are:
- Maghi, in Punjab, Haryana & Himachal Pradesh
- Pongal in Tamil Nadu
- Uttarayan in Gujarat
- Bhogali Bihu in Assam
- Shishur Saenkraat in Kashmir valley
- Khichdi in Uttar Pradesh & Bihar
- Makar Sankramana in Karnataka
Traditional Til Gul Laddoos
Makar Sankranti Celebrations
Though Makar Sankranti is celebrated countrywide in India, different traditions & rituals are followed region wise.
Here, I am describing the festivities & celebrations for Makar Sankranti in Central & Wesern India.
- In the State Of Maharastra
The first sugar crop is harvested and this forms the basis of production of fresh gur (jaggery) for the year. Hence jaggery sweets are prepared and distributed as a tradition.
Til gul; made of jaggery & sesame seeds, puranpoli; a flatbread made of jaggery & toasted ground sesame seeds and besan halwa are prepared and exchanged as a token of goodwill. The idea is to forgive and forget past ill feelings and quarrels and become friends.
Another tradition is to invite married women for a ritual called "Haldi Kukmkum" and give gifts. The women wear black clothes on this occasion.
Kite flying is another of the rituals.
Makar Sankranti celebrates the killing of the demon Sankarasur by Goddess Sankranti as well. This festival also honors & worships Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge.
In Maharastra, Makar Sankranti is celebrated for 3 days.
- In The State Of Gujarat
Makar Sankranti is a 2 day festival in Gujarat and kite flying is an important ritual of this festival. So much so that an International Kite Festival is held every year in Ahmedabad. Kites of all shapes & sizes can be seen dotting the sky.
Undhiya and chikkis are the traditional sweets prepared and relished on this day.
- In Delhi and Haryana
For the Jats and the Yadavs and some other communities this is the main festival of the year.
Halwa, kheer and choorma are traditionally prepared for this festival. Brothers gift warm clothing to their married sisters and her in laws. This ritual is called "Sidha".
Following the ritual "Manana" women also give a gift to their in laws.
- In Uttar Pradesh
People in millions take a holy dip in the river Ganga at Prayag (Allahabad) and Varanasi and a big fair is organised as part of the celebrations. Then they worship their deity.
Khichri made of rice & lentils is donated, this being considered auspicious.
Similar to many other states kite flying is an important part of the festival celebrations in this state too.
Traditional Food Karnataka
Some Important Facts About Makar Sankranti
- Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of the Kumbh mela in Uttar Pradesh while in Kerala, the Shabrimala pilgrimage ends on this day.
It is believed that those who die on Makar Sankranti day are freed of the cycle of life and death.
- The age old tradition of kite flying was designed as a fun way of basking in the morning sun. This was conducive to health as it killed infections and sickness.
- The ritual of distributing til gul, laddos & chikkis made of jaggery & sesame seeds, signified the renewal of friendships and forgetting of old animosities. Eating til and gur is also beneficial to health as it is a body warming food suited to winter season.
- This is one festival celebrated all over India on the same day albeit with regional names and different rituals.
- As this day falls on the equinox, the day & night are equally long.
- Makar Sankranti is one of the very few festivals that follow the Solar calendar.
Makar Sankranti Legends
Here are a few legends associated with Makar Sankranti:
- Though the Sun God does not get along well with his son Shani Dev, it is believed that on this day the Sun God puts aside all bitterness and visits his son.
This day is therefore celebrated as a sign for people to forget enemity and become friends again.
- It is believed the day of the devtas (angels) start from Makar Sankranti. Hence it signals the start of the auspicious period for Hindus.
- This day also marks the end of the demon terror as Lord Vishnu killed them & buried them under the Mandar mountain.
This again signifies the end of the inauspicious period.
- It was on this day that King Bhagirath brought river Ganga to earth thus providing moksha to 60000 sons of Maharaj Sagar.
- Bhisham Pitamah left his mortal body and attained moksha (liberation) on this day. It is believed that those who die on this day are freed of the cycle of life and death.
Makar Sankranti festival
- celebrates a fresh harvest
- is dedicated to the worship of the Sun God, Goddess Sankranti, Goddess Saraswati
- a time for people to forget differences and unite in friendship,
- is a time when traditional sweets made of jaggery & gur are prepared and distributed
- holds traditional kite flying contests all over India
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