Makar Sankranti: Cultural and Religious Significance

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Sankranti or Solstice means: moving from one place to the other or meeting with another. When sun enters from one rashi o the other rashi, it is called as Sankranti.

In astrology, Mesh, Kark, Tula, and Makar are considered important among 12 Rashis. Sankrantis are named on these Rashis. In Poush month or January, when he sun God ends cold and enters into Makar Rashi, people celebrate Makar Sankranti.

The basic consideration behind Makar Sankranti is to bow down before the sun or the nature. The worship of the sun is considered as great in nature worship. This day inspires us to receive warmth and light from the sun and to spread the same around us. This day is a carrier of warmth among relations.

Makar Sankranti is the greatest Parva of the sun worship. Vedas too provide immense importance to the sun. The sun god is the basis of both the nature and astrology.

According to astrology, each year is divided into two equal parts – Uttarayana, and Dakshinayana. When the sun moves from south to north, it is called as Uttarayana, but when the sun moves from north to south, it is called as Dakshinayana. Since the sun moves from south to north on 14th January, this day is celebrated as Makar Sankranti.

In the Hindu religion, Makar or the crocodile is considered as pious animal. Besides, it is considered that most of the Hindu Gods have come on the earth in the north of Bhoomadhya rekha or in the Northern Hemisphere; the Uttarayana position of the sun is accepted as ‘Shubh’ or beneficial.

The change of the sun from the South Hemisphere to the North Hemisphere is considered as change from dark to light, since, the sun is the ultimate source of energy and days start to be longer than nights. Even the change in nature is also observed during this period.

In epics Dakshinayana is considered as nights of Gods and Uttarayana is considered to be days of Gods, the Makar Sankranti is considered to be the symbol of positivity.

When days become longer than nights, we get sunlight for longer a period which is essential for our health and for crops. Thus, this Parv is a symbol of more activity and more production. The relation of this festival exists with change of seasons and agriculture. These are basis of our lives.

In the 8th Chapter of ShrimadBhagvadgita, lord Krishna too, has described the importance of Uttarayana of the sun. He has said,”O, Great Indian! Those who have understood the Brahm, when the sun goes Uttarayana with effect of God of Fire, leave their bodies in the light of the day, they don’t have to take rebirth.” Here, light and dark means Uttarayana and Dakshinayana.

According to the story of Mahabharata, it was due to the importance of Uttarayana that Bhishm Pitamah who was on the bed of arrows did not leave his body until the stage of Uttarayana of the sun did not start.

Maharaja Bhagirath who brought the Ganga to the earth did tarpan for his ancestors on this day. It is traditionally believed that it was after the tarpan of Bhagirath that the Ganga progressed to the sea.

This Parv is also a symbol of arrival of Basant Ritu. It starts new activity, new sensation, and enthusiasm in our bodies.

It is believed that lord Vishnu destroyed Asuras and declared the end of war on this day. As stated earlier, the Sun God enters into the Makar Rashi on this day and the lord of the Makar Rashi is Shani who has enmity with his father, the Sun.

We donate til on this day to please Shani so that he may not harm the Sun God. It is due to this fact that Khichadi of rice and black urad is prepared, donated and eaten on this day. The scientific basis is that Khichadi has the capacity of suppressing cold. The Makar Sankranti is also called as Khichadi.

On the Makar Sankranti the worship of the Sun God is done with Gayatri Mantra. This day is considered as sacred for wearing Janeu and taking Deeksha. I is considered that the donation done on this day comes back with ten times benefit. The man, who dies on this day, becomes free from the cycle of death and birth.

Taking bath in the river Ganga is especially important on the day of Makar Sankranti. The donation of Khichadi, blanket, clothes, fruits, umbrella etc has specific importance on this day. Makar Sankranti is the Parv of progress, enthusiasm, social harmony and social integrity. It signifies the Sun Worship. The festival is celebrated in whole of India in many different forms. In fact, it is a festival which shows multi-coloured culture.

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