On January 14 every year, we celebrate Makar Sankranti. It is the only Indian festival celebrated on a fixed calendared day of the solar calendar. All other Indian festivals are celebrated as per the lunar calendar, which make their days of celebration on the solar calendar vary every year.
Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious days for the Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion, fervor & gaiety. Lakhs of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar & Prayag and pray to Lord Sun. It is celebrated with pomp in southern parts of the country as Pongal, and in Punjab is celebrated as Lohri & Maghi. Gujarati’s not only look reverentially up to the sun, but also offer thousands of their colorful oblations in the form of beautiful kites all over the skyline. They may be trying to reach up to their glorious God or bring about greater proximity with the one who represents the best. It is a day for which Bhishma Pitamah kept waiting to leave his mortal coil.
Makar Sankranti is the day when the glorious Sun-God of Hindus begins its ascendancy and entry into the Northern Hemisphere. Sun for the Hindus stands for Pratyaksha-Brahman – the manifest God, who symbolizes, the one, non-dual, self-effulgent, glorious divinity blessing one & all tirelessly. Sun is the one who transcends time and also the one who rotates the proverbial Wheel of Time. The famous Gayatri Mantra, which is chanted everyday by every faithful Hindu, is directed to Sun God to bless them with intelligence & wisdom. Sun not only represents God but also stands for an embodiment of knowledge & wisdom. Lord Krishna reveals in Gita that this manifested divinity was his first disciple, and we all know it to be indeed a worthy one too. No Sundays for the Sun, may be because one who revels in its very ‘being’, the very essence of his own Self, is always in the Sunday mood.
The Significance of Makar Sankranti
The significance of the Makar Sankranti festival is that it marks the day where there is a significant movement in the zodiac – the arrangement of the earth’s dial around the sun – and this movement brings about a new change in the way we experience the planet itself. There are many sankrantis through the year; the two significant ones being Makar Sankranti, and right opposite, after summer solstice is Karka Sankranti. In between, every time the zodiac signs changes, it is called a Sankranti to suggest the movement of the planet, to understand that our life is sustained and nourished by this movement. If this movement ceases, everything about us will cease. On the 22nd of December, the solstice happened, that means in relation to the sun, the movement or the tilt of the planet reaches its maximum. Now, from this day onwards, the northern movement is strong. Things really start changing upon the earth. From Makar Sankranti onwards, winter is being relieved step by step.
How to Celebrate Makar Sankranti festival:
- Get up early in the morning, before sunrise, have bath and be ready with water & flowers for the sunrise. Worship the rising Sun, by offering water, flowers with both the hands & then pray with folded hands by chanting the Gayatri Mantra and pray for knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment to rise in the similar way to greater & greater heights. Pray for blessings to live a dynamic, inspired & righteous life.
- Do tarpan for your ancestors. Offer water to the ancestors while praying for their blessings. Resolve to redeem the pledges & pride of your forefathers. Live life in such a way that wherever your forefathers may be their head is held high by the life & deeds of their children.
- Have a special session of Meditation, wherein you bring about the awareness of the self-effulgent subjective divinity. Affirm the greatest importance of your spiritual goal very clearly, and pray to God to bless you with the capacity to constantly revel in your true self. May the graph of your rise like the Uttarayana Sun. May there be greater ‘Love & Light’ in your life & the world.
- Prepare laddus or other sweets of Til & Gur and offer them to your friends & relatives. See to it that your ‘Well-being Prayer for all’ gets manifested in action & deeds.
- Have the lunch of Khichiri. This stands for inculcating simplicity in your life & habits.
- Give some Daan on this day to someone who truly deserves.
Seven Interesting Facts You Did Not Know About Makar Sankranti
- Why is it called Makar Sankranti?
On Makar Sankranti, the sun enters the sun-sign of Capricorn or Makara (the Indian rashi). The word ‘Sankranti’ signifies the movement of the sun from one zodiac sign to another. Thus, the name of the festival literally means the movement of the sun into Capricorn
- Day and night are equally long
As Makar Sankranti is one of the oldest solstice festivals and falls on the equinox, day and night on this day are believed to be equally long. Post the festival; it is officially the beginning of spring or the onset of Indian summer and the days become longer, and nights shorter.
- Same Festival, a Million Different Names
Though extremely popular as Makar Sankranti, the festival is predominantly a harvest festival and is celebrated throughout India, from north to south and east to west. While Makar Sankranti is most popular in West India, down south, the festival is known as Pongal and in the north, it is celebrated as Lohri. Uttarayan, Maghi, Khichdi are some other names of the same festival
- Why do we consume til-gul?
Makar Sankranti is the festival of til-gul where sesame and jaggery laddoos or chikkis are distributed among all. They are generally accompanied by the saying, “Til-gul ghya ani gud gud bola”, which translates to ‘eat these sesame seeds and jaggery and speak sweet words’. The festival is one of bonding where every member of society is asked to bury the hatchet with enemies and foes and live in peace. Also, it is a superstition that during the festival, the Sun God forgets his anger on his son Shani and visits him.
- Why do we fly kites on Makar Sankranti?
There is a very interesting reason behind the kite-flying. Kite-flying in olden days was generally done in the early hours of the morning, when the sun’s rays were bright but not too harsh. Also, during kite-flying, the human body was exposed to the sun for long hours. The early morning sun is considered beneficial for the skin and body.
Makar Sankranti generally marks the beginning of the Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh while in South India, in Kerala, one of the most austere and difficult pilgrimages of Shabrimala ends on this auspicious day. Other parts of the country too, celebrate by taking a dip in the holy rivers flowing through states to cleanse themselves of sins. It is also believed that if you die during Makar Sankranti, you are not reborn but go directly to heaven
 “Makar Sankranti Festival”, available online at: http://www.vmission.org.in/hinduism/festivals/sankranti/
 “Makar Sankranti: Reaping the Benefits of the Season”, Jan 13, 2017, available online at: http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/sadhguru/masters-words/makar-sankranti-significance-and-benefits-of-festival/
 Rutu Ladage, “6 Interesting Facts You Did Not Know About Makar Sankranti”, available online at: https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/7-interesting-facts-you-did-not-know-about-makar-sankranti-229405.html