Makar Sankranti is one of the Sun festivals of India celebrated by the Hindu community. This festival is dedicated to the Sun God. The festival Makara Sankranti is a solar event making it one of the few Hindu festivals which fall on the same date in local calendars every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January. 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.
The last day of every month is known as Sankranti which signifies the movement or passing away of one month & the start of another.
Makar Sankranti Belief
Besides the usual harvest celebration, this day has other significance too and is a worship of the Sun-god that sustains life on earth.
As per the ancient traditions, on Makara Sankranti, the Sun starts on its Northward journey which is known as Uttarayan. It is also believed that if you die during Makar Sankranti, you are not reborn but go directly to heaven.
Makar Sankranti is believed to be a time of peace and prosperity. The day is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly, people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery. Bathing is believed to wash away sins.
Makar Sankranti Food
Makar Sankranti is the festival of Til-Gul where sesame and Jaggery Laddoos or Chikkis are distributed among all. The common feature everywhere is sweets made of jaggery.
On this occasion, a special celebration is seen on riverbanks in different parts of India, especially in Prayagraj, Ujjain, Haridwar, and Nasik. People used to take baths early in the morning and pray to god Sun. Kumbh Fair starts with this festival and continues for 30-35 days. Checkout:- List of Mela in India
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.
Different Names of Makar Sankranti
This festival is celebrated by different names in different states. In North India, it is known as Maker Sankranti. In North India, it is celebrated as Lohri. Uttarayan, Maghi, and Khichdi are some other names for the same festival. In South India, the festival is known as Pongal. While in the South special meals are prepared to celebrate.
Makar Sankranti Celebration
Makar or Makara Sankranti is celebrated in many parts of South Asia with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different parts of the region.
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.
Makar Sankranti is the most popular in West India. In Gujarat and Maharashtra, the festival is celebrated by flying kites
Suvechha for Makara Sankranti, as the Sun starts its northbound journey known as Uttarayan.
As per our texts, it is believed that one human year is equivalent to one day and one night of the gods. The Uttarayan part of the year (6 months) is one day, and the dakshiyan journey of the sun for 6 months is one night for the gods. Like humans lock their doors before retiring for the night, the gods do the same with their doors at the start of dakshiyan, and the doors remain locked for the next 6 months.
On the last day of Poush (Hindu Calender), at dawn or Brahma muhurta, the night of the gods has ended and the doors have opened again with the start of Uttarayan.
It is also the day that Pitamah Bhishma chose to die after lying on his bed of arrows for 56 days.
It’s a celebration of many things across India and for us Bengalis, it’s a time to make sweets like pathisapta, pithe, puli, etc.
Significance of Makar Sankranti
After spending 58 days on the bed of arrows, Bhishma Pitamah had given up his life on Makar Sankranti, the wish was a boon of death. Bhishma Pitamah fought continuously for 10 days in the war of Mahabharata which lasted for 18 days.
|Significance of Makar Sankranti|
Bhishma Pitamah, the main character of Maharishi Ved Vyasa’s great work Mahabharata, is said to be the only character who remained in the Mahabharata from beginning to end. Bhishma Pitamah fought continuously for 10 days in the war of Mahabharata which lasted for 18 days. Distraught by the fighting skills of Bhishma, the grandfather himself told the Pandavas the remedy for his death. Bhishma Pitamah remained on the bed of arrows for 58 days but did not leave his body because he wanted that he would give up his life only when the sun would be Uttarayan.
1. Bhishma Pitamah had the boon of death, so he himself sacrificed his life on the day of Surya Uttarayan i.e. Makar Sankranti.
2. At the time when the Mahabharata war started, it is said that at that time the age of Arjuna was 55 years, the age of Lord Krishna was 83 years and the age of Bhishma Pitamah was about 150 years.
3. Bhishma Pitamah was given the boon of euthanasia by his father King Shantanu himself because Bhishma Pitamah had taken a vow of unbroken brahmacharya to fulfill his father’s wish.
4. It is said that King Shantanu, father of Bhishma Pitamah, wanted to marry a girl whose name was Satyavati. But Satyavati’s father made a condition of marrying his daughter to King Shantanu only if he would declare the child born from Satyavati’s womb as the heir to his kingdom.
5. King Shantanu could not accept this because he had already declared Bhishma Pitamah as his successor.
6. After rejecting the words of Satyavati’s father, King Shantanu started living the separation of Satyavati. When Bhishma Pitamah came to know about his father’s concern, he immediately took a vow to remain unmarried for life.
7. Bhishma Pitamah asked Satyavati’s father to give her hand to King Shantanu and told her to remain unmarried for the rest of her life so that none of her children could claim their right over the kingdom.
8. After this Bhishma Pitamah handed over Satyavati to his father, King Shantanu. King Shantanu was pleased with his son’s paternal devotion and granted him the boon of euthanasia.
9. According to religious beliefs, it is said that Bhishma Pitamah, after staying on the bed of arrows for 58 days on the day of Surya Uttarayan i.e. Makar Sankranti, got his wish for death as a boon.
10. On attaining death on the day of Surya Uttarayan, a person who attains salvation and worships God has special significance on this day.
Ganga bath has special significance on this day, Bhishma Pitamah was also the son of Ganga.