Updated: Jan 15, 2021
Hinduism is not only a religion but also a way of life that leads us to God. In addition to worshipping god, it also teaches us to respect nature of a gratitude and multiply our happiness by sharing festivals are the perfect way to include this teaching. Makar Sankranti is one such festival where we worship the sun God in the form of Surya Narayan or pratyaksh Brahman which means visible form of God, this sun sustains our life on earth by giving us light heat and sets an example of tirelessly performing their duties. According to Holi status river, worshipping the cattle are other practices undertaken during makar Sankranti that teaches to live in perfect communion nature.
Makar Sankranti is the first day of Sun transit into makar or Capricorn. It marks the end of winter and arrival of spring and summer season from this day onwards day get longer and nights get shorter. Sun begins its journey towards north and is known as Uttara yan which comprises of six months from January to June. This period is considered to be very auspicious for new beginning.
It is said even Bhishmapita of Mahabharata waited on a bed of arrows for Uttara after which he chose to give up on his body and transition to heaven.
India being an agricultural country largely depends on the sun, rain cycle and nature for its prosperity. Makar Sankranti is an occasion for us to offer gratitude to nature and thank God Sun for good harvest.
In Maharashtra people prepare sweets made of Sesame seeds and jaggery known as til-gud on the occasion of Sankranti and offer it to neighbours and relatives.
This day give people an opportunity to forget their anger, bitterness, hatred and renew their relationship with positivity.
There is any old age tradition of wearing black colour clothes on this day in honour of the wife of sun God, Chaya Devi or Shadow Goddess. People believe that offering Haldi Kumkum to married woman on this day bestows long life to their husbands.
On the other hand, Skyline of Gujarat is a riot of colours on the evening of makar Sankranti. It is popularly called Uttara yan, where people gather on the rooftops and fly colourful kites, kite flying competition are also held and people vigorously compete to cut off other kites.
In North India lakhs of people flock in the Ganga and Yamuna known as Sangam to take holy dips that wash away all the sins.
A day before Makar Sankranti, Punjabi celebrate lohri with bonfire. Offering seasonal food is made to the fire and singing folk songs. All the people have meal together of fresh mustard seeds called sarso ka saag.
Makara or Makar Sankranti is celebrated in many parts of the Indian subcontinent with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different Indian states and South Asian countries:
Suggi Habba, Makara Sankramana, Makara Sankranti: Karnataka
Sankranti, Makara Sankranti, MakaraSankramana, Uttar Ayana or Sankranti: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh
Makara Sankranti or Makara Mela and Makara Chaula: Odisha
Makara Sankranti or Makaravilakku and Makara Jyothi: Kerala
Makara Sankranti or Til Sankrant: Bihar
Makar Sankranti, Maghi Sankrant, Haldi Kumkum or Sankranti: Maharashtra, Goa, Nepal
Thai Pongal or Uzhavar Thirumal: Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia
Uttara yan: Gujarat
Maghi: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu: Assam
Shishur Saenkraat: Kashmir Valley
Sakraat or Khichdi: Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar
Poush Sangkranti: West Bengal, Bangladesh
Tila Sakrait: Mithila
DAY1: MAGHI, LOHRI,BHOGI PADUA
Maghi is the occassion when Sikhs commemorate the sacrifice of forty Sikhs, who fought for Guru Gobindh Singh Ji.Maghi, Makara Sankranti, the first day of the month of Magh. The eve of Maghi is the common Indian festival of Lohri when bonfires are lit in Hindu homes to greet the birth of sons in the families and alms are distributed.
Significance: The day of Maghi is observed to honour the heroic fight of the Chali Mukte, or the Forty Liberated Ones, who sacrificed their own lives defending an attack by the imperial army marching in pursuit of Guru Gobind Singh. The action took place near a pool of water, Khidrane di Dhab, on 29 December 1705.
By farm waste Bhogi is the first day of Pongal, which celebrates for “God of Clouds and Rain” -Indra. Lord Indra is worshipped and respected for plentiful harvest. Therefore, bringing abundance and prosperity to the land. Hence, the Bhogi festival is also called as “Indran”. People tidy up their homes from top to bottom, collect all the useless items. Homes are decorated with Kolams after they are cleaned. Kolams are floor designs drawn with a white paste of rice outlined with red mud along with five petal pumpkin flowers set in lumps of cow dung. On this day, a special pooja is held before harvesting. Farmers worship sun and earth by applying sandalwood paste on their ploughs and sickles. After this, they use these blessed tools to cut newly harvested rice. Unwanted items are thrown into the fire ignited from cow dung and wood. Everybody dances around the fire, sing songs for the honour of the God and harvest. The importance of the bonfire is that they must warm it up in the last round of winter and burning.
DAY 2: MAKARSANKARNTI, PONGAL, PEDDA PANGDUAUTTARAYAN, MAGH BIHU
The first big festival to be held in India is Makar Sankranti, usually held in January, and this year the festival will be celebrated on 14 January. Makar Sankranti is a big harvest festival celebrated throughout India by Hindus, but under different names, customs and festivities, different states celebrated the festival. Due to the northward journey of the sun, this time is also known as Uttarayan on this account and is considered to be quite auspicious. Makar Sankranti marks the end of winter as well as the beginning of longer days. The harvest festival is both religious and seasonal, dedicated to Lord Surya, the God of the Light, and marks the passage of the sun to Makara (Capricorn) raashii (zodiac sign). In the Indian Subcontinent and even by Indians and Hindus around the world, the festival is widely celebrated. Depending on the area it is being celebrated in, the festivities related to Makar Sankranti have several names. For instance, it is called Maghi by North Indian Hindus and Sikhs and is preceded by Lohri.
Though festivities may not be at par with previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic, devotees usually take a dip on this day in rivers that are considered to be sacred, such as Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery. It is also considered a time of peace and prosperity for believers that taking a dip washes away their sins, and many spiritual rituals are carried out on this day. On this day, Sesame and Jaggery Sideos or Chikkis are distributed. It is popularly known as til-gud. The sweet means that despite their differences, people must remain together in peace and harmony. As part of the Makar Sankranti festivities, kite flying is organised in Gujarat. It is also believed that those who die on Makar Sankranti are not, according to Hindu tradition, not resurrected but go straight to paradise if one dies on Makar Sankranti.
DAY 3: MATTU PONGAL, KANUMA PADUNGA
Mattu Pongal is celebrated the day after Surya Pongal. Mattu refers to “cow, bullock, cattle”, and Tamil Hindus regard cattle as sources of wealth for providing dairy products, fertilizer, transportation and agricultural aid. On Mattu Pongal, cattle are decorated – sometimes with flower garlands or painted horns, they are offered bananas, a special meal and worshipped.
Kansu Pidi is a tradition observed on Mattu Pongal by women and young girls. They place a leaf of turmeric plant outside their home, and feed the leftover Pongal dish and food from Surya Pongal to the birds, particularly crow. They pray for their brothers’ well being, in a manner similar to Bhaiya dooj in north India.
DAY 4: KAANUM PONGAL, MUKKANUMA
Kaanum Pongal or Kanum Pongal is the fourth and the final day of the four-day Pongal festival. Though the name of the festival is specific to Tamil Nadu, it is also celebrated in other southern Indian states such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka as the festival is significantly popular in South India. Kaanum Pongal is treated similar to the Raksha Bandhan as women offer special prayers towards the Sun god for the wellbeing of their brothers and as per the customs and traditions.
Significance – Thanksgiving for cattle, ancestors and farming livestock, visiting relatives’ houses
The word Kaanum means ‘viewing and seeing’. Kaanum Pongal is the day of relaxation and enjoyment. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, the festival is earmarked and celebrated as Mukkanuma and the auspicious festival is observed in Andhra by worshipping the cattle. In the state of Tamil Nadu, the day of Kanum Pongal is also referred to as Virgin Pongal or Kanni Pongal, the word Kanni implies virgin/maiden/unmarried girl. Unmarried girls celebrate the festival by playing at the river banks and pray the god to have successful matrimonial life. Kanni Pongal is celebrated coinciding Kaanum Pongal for the wellbeing of unmarried women and for the fertility.
Makar Sankranti and it's relation with Solar System :
Makar sankranti is the festival of Til-Gud where sesame and jaggery laddoos or chikkis are distributed among all. They are generally accompanied by the saying, "Til-Gud 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. Thus, by distributing sweets everyone is asked to spread joy around.
Since the festival falls in winter eating sesame and jaggery is considered beneficial to health as they are warm foods. Thus, it is specifically this sweets that is distributed as it signifies bonding and good health.
There is all very interesting reason behind the kite flying. Kite flying in the 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. since winter is also the time of a lot of infections and sickness, by basking in the sun, Hindus believed that the bad bacteria of their bodies would be cleared to a certain extent.
Creating a fun way of sun - basking where no one would even realize they were reaping benefits was through kite flying.
Makar Sankranti marks the end of Malmaas, an inauspicious month in the Hindu(Panchang) calendar and the transition of the sun to the zodiacal sign of Makar(Capricorn) to herald a change in season.
It is celebrated in the North as Lori, in Assam as Bhogali Bihu and in South as Pongal.
Rotation of Earth impacts the date on which Makar Sankranti is celebrated, this change is due to the fact that while the exact day on which the winter or summer solstice occurs remains steady(within one day error), there is a slight change in the way the Earth's rotation axis is aligned to the sun.
Author : Kiran Israni
2nd year student of BACL, Nagpur
Content Writer at