Makar Sankranti is one of the major festivals in India that marks the beginning of the year. Like every year this year also the festival will be celebrated on 14 January 2022. Makar Sankranti is dedicated to Lord Surya (Sun) when it starts its movement towards the northern hemisphere which is why it is also called Uttarayan. This festival is determined based on the solar calendar that marks the beginning of the new harvest season.
From this day, the nights start to become shorter and days become longer hence marking the end of the winter solstice. As considered in Hindu mythology and as the name suggests Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition, on this day sun enters the Makar Rashi (Capricorn Zodiac) leaving Dhanu (Sagittarius). It is the auspicious day that also marks the beginning of Hindu month Magh.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated all over India with equal joy and different names. Each state has its way of celebrating the festival. In Haryana and Delhi, it is Sakraat whereas in Gujarat it is celebrated as Uttarayan. Magha Saaji in Himachal Pradesh, Poush Parbon in West Bengal, Pongal in Tamil Naadu, and many more.
History related to Makar Sankranti
According to Hindu mythology, the legends say that the sun is the father of Saturn, the son do not get along with his father very well. So it is believed that on Makar Sankranti the Sun goes to meet his son Saturn.
Hence, on this day people worship both sun and Saturn as these planets are believed to bless people with great success.
Another legend associated with Uttarayan is Bhishma, who chose to die on this day during Mahabharata as this day is considered auspicious and people who die on this day have no rebirth.
One more legend associated with this festival is that King Bhagirath to free his ancestors from curse bathed in the holy river Ganga and that is why the tradition of taking dips in this saint river is still followed where people can be freed from pain and suffering.
Makar Sankranti Rituals
The day of Makar Sankranti is considered to be an auspicious day for Hindus when taking a holy dip at the confluence of Ganga and Jamuna called Sangam is considered to be a holy ritual for the forgiveness of past sins.
Note: With a surge in COVID-19 cases in Uttarakhand, the Haridwar and Dehradun authorities have prohibited devotees from taking a dip in the Ganga in Haridwar and Rishikesh on Makar Sankranti on 14 January 2022.
During this period, helping the poor and making donations is also considered to be a ritual that brings luck to people.
There are many fairs organised during Makar Sankranti across India. The most famous is Kumbha Mela which is held every 12 years in one of these four places – Haridwar, Prayagraj, Ujjain or Nashik. Other fairs held during this time are The Magha Mela in Prayag, The Gangasagar Mela in West Bengal, The Makar Mela in Karnataka.
Kite Flying is the major part of Makar Sankranti Which embellishes the sky with colourful kites from early morning. It is believed that the tradition of kite flying was started so that people can get exposure to sun rays as they are believed to cure skin infections and winter illness.
The kite flying can be witnessed in different parts of the country but the liveliness of the festival can be witnessed in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The people in Gujarat starts making kites months before Makar Sankranti.
Gujarat hosts the biggest event on this day as the International Kite Festival in Ahmedabad which is being held since 1989 in there. Tourists from across India and outside India come to Ahmedabad to take part in the kite festival and enjoy this joyous occasion.
Traditional foods during Makar Sankranti
Traditional food is the heart of any festival. During Makar Sankranti, various states have their traditions that they follow and cook. Though every state has its specialities and traditional foods, what make them common is the use of Til (sesame seeds), Gur (Jaggery), peanuts, and newly harvested crops. Makar Sankranti is incomplete without these two ingredients that are til and Gur (jaggery).
“Til Ladoo”, “Til Chikki”, “Chakkara Pongali (a dish prepared with rice and jaggery)”, “Sabudana Vada”, “Lai Pattis”, “Sewak ka Ladoo” are some of the delicacies enjoyed during Makar Sankranti in different parts of India.
Hope the rising sun on Makar Sankranti fills your life with abundant joy and prosperity.