In just 2 days India would again celebrate the festival of kites, til chikki, Khichidi and much more. Yes Makar Sankranti is almost here. While I have begun discussing this topic, what thoughts are you getting? I am sure you are busy imagining cutting the manjha of your neighbour’s kite and also thinking of those irresistible chikkis. Isn’t it? Well think a bit more, and if you can’t think of anything then Read on!
Makar Sankranti: It’s About Prayers, Sweets & Kites
For most of us, when it comes to Makar Sankranti this festival is about prayers, sweets, and kites. Sankranti is celebrated in almost all parts of India, but with different names. Entire India celebrates this festival with a lot of enthusiasm and zest. This blissful festival celebrated by the Hindus. The way I rembember this celebration is like, most of the people step out of their houses to enjoy one major activity i.e. Kite Flying. Beautiful, colourful and attractive kites are seen flying high in the sky on this very auspicious day. I remember my parents used to send special Sankranti greeting cards to their family and friends. Typically the day begins by offering prayers to various deities and many people also visit temples. During this auspicious day hundreds of devotees take a dip in the holy water and also offer their prayers to the sun god. Chikkis as we all know is an integral part of this festival and would always be on the menu. Apart from that my mother used to make Khichidi too, that was the main meal. That was all about the fun part during this festival. Well read on to know more in details.
14th January: Makar Sankranti Falls On The Same Day Every Year
Most of the festivals dates in India are based on the position of the moon so they are basically based on the lunar calendar. Since the position of the moon keeps changing, the dates of festivals also keep changing. But the most special thing about Makar Sankranti is that this is the only festival that falls on the same day every year. This is because Makar Sankranti follows the solar calendar and not the Lunar Calendar.
But every eighty years, this day is postponed by one day due to earth’s revolution. Now Makar Sankranti is celebrated on the 14th day of January every year, sometimes it is also celebrated on the 15th day of January. But it is predicted that from 2050, this festival will fall on the 15th day of January and also on the 16th day of January occasionally.
It is said that on the day of Makar Sankranti, sun starts its journey towards the Northern Hemisphere. Talking in an astrological tone, the sun actually enters the Makar rashi i.e. Capricorn (the sun sign). During this auspicious day hundreds of devotees take a dip in the holy water and also offer their prayers to the sun god.
Why The Name “Makar Sankranti”?
It is believed that on this very day the sun enters the sun-sign of Capricorn also known as Makara in Hindi language. Hence there is ‘Makar’ in the name. The significance of the word ‘Sankranti’ is the movement of the sun i.e. from one zodiac sign to another. Consequently, the name Makar Sankranti means the movement of the sun into Capricorn.
5 Interesting Things About Makar Sankranti
1. One Festival With Many Different Names
Well we know this festival is extremely popular as Makar Sankranti. Also it is predominantly the harvest festival which is celebrated throughout the country. Yes from north to south and east to west Sankranti is celebrated by many in many different ways. The name Makar Sankranti is quite popular in the West India, but down south, the same festival is known as Pongal. In the north india it is known as Lohri. Doesn’t end there Uttarayan, Maghi, Khichdi are few if the other names for this same festival.
2. Significance Of Kite Flying On Makar Sankranti
During my childhood I thought it was for fun only, but as I grew up I came to know that there is a very interesting reason attached to kite-flying on Makar Sankranti. On this day people fly kites to receive the benefits of sun exposure. Well while we in childhood did it unknowingly, there are many who know the actual reason. During the winter, the human body gets infected and suffers with cough and cold. This season also affects the skin and makes it dry. It is believed that the rays of the sun on this very day actually act as medicine for the body. This is because when Sun moves in Uttarayana act as a powerful medicine. Since the human body is continuously exposed to the sun rays during kite flying, it tends to destroy most of the infections and insanitation.
3. Equally Long Day And Night
Makar Sankranti is one of the most oldest solstice festivals. It falls exactly on the equinox, and on this day the day and night both are believed to be equally long. Post the celebration of this day it is the official beginning of the spring or the onset of Indian summer. Hence the days start becoming longer, and nights start becoming shorter.
The festival of Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of one of the most popular events of Uttar Pradesh, the Kumbh Mela. On the other hand in the South India (in Kerala) this festival marks the end to one of the most rigid and difficult pilgrimages known as Shabrimala. People across the country celebrate this festival by taking a dip in the respective holy rivers flowing through their states. They do this to cleanse themselves from the sins. One more interesting thing about this festival is that if you die on this very Makar Sankranti, you get a direct ticket to the heaven. Yes you are not reborn but go directly to the heaven.
5. Why Eat Til-Gul
Well I keep the sweet thing for the last, yes as we know this festival is all about til-gul. Many people distribute sesame and jaggery laddoos or chikkis to their friends and family. Some people also donante it to the needy people. One funny saying was “Til-gul ghya ani gud gud bola” which means eat these sesame seeds and jaggery and speak even more sweet words. The reason behing distributing sweets is to spread joy and bury all the hatred and enmity. To add further there is a superstition attached that during this festival time, the Sun God forgets his anger on his son Shani and pays a visit to him. One more thing to add is that since Makar Sankranti falls in winter, eating warm foods is considered to be beneficial for the body and sesame and jaggery both serve this purpose perfectly. Hence the food is specifically distributed, the reason is simple it signifies bonding and good health.
So it’s time to wish your loved ones Happy Makar Sankranti, get on straight and design some hand written cards as I used to. Well this internet driven era does give you an option for e-cards with a personalised message. Just go on and wish them. Makar Sankranti as I said is one of the most important festivals amongst all the other Hindu festivals. This is a splendid celebration, which has everything yes food, colour and fun. Well that’s what festivals are all about. I wish this Makar Sankranti 2017 brings immense happiness and prosperity in your lives. Here is me wishing you all a Happy Makar Sankranti.
You too can share special things about this festival, be it food or way of celebration if you feel I missed out something please feel free to share it with us as comments.
Featured Photo by saloni_desai