Sun god visits his son, Shani

Makar Sankranti – first major festival of the year

14th January is very auspicious from Hindu religion point of view. On this day, sun transits into capricorn(makar) rashi. Makar Sankranti thus means – transition to capricorn and makar sankranti celebrated. On this day, new endeavors are undertaken with a belief that they will be successful. This day is one of the harvest days for indians. Makar Sankranti and Pongal are important festivals which are celebrated on same day.

Kite flying is a major activity of this festival
Kite flying is a major activity of this festival

Almost all of India celebrate this festival with different culture and different names. Khichdi,  Uttarayan, Magh Bihu and Maghi are few of them. In neighbouring countries, this is celebrated as Magho or Maghe Sankranti (Nepal),  Songkarn (Thailand),  Thingyan (Myanmar) and Moha Sangkarn (cambodia).

Makar Sankranti and Lohri

Lohri is also an important festival which falls an evening before the festival of Makar Sankranti.

Makar Sankranti wishes in Hindi

Historical and cultural importance of this festival

This day is important for the following reasons:

1. Surya visits his son Shani, on Sankranti day. Though father and son do not go along well, but still, father visits his son’s house.

Sun god visits his son, Shani
Sun god visits his son, Shani

2. Bhagirath liberated his ancestors from curse after bringing Ganga on this day. People celebrate this day as Ganga sagar mela in West Bengal. Sage Kapil ashram attracts lot of visitors on this auspicious day.

Sage Kapil ashram - Gangasagar
Sage Kapil ashram – Gangasagar

3. Bhishma left this earth on this day. He had the boon of iccha mrityu and he chose this auspicious day to depart from earth.

Bhishma leaving his body in presence of Shri Krishna on the day of Makar Sankranti
Bhishma leaving his body in presence of Shri Krishna on the day of Makar Sankranti

4. Lord Vishnu buried the asuras under Mandara parvata on this day.

Celebrations of this festival

Makar Sankranti Maharashtra

Makara Sankranti celebrated in Maharashtra by exchanging til-gud as tokens of goodwill. People wish each other “तिळगुळ घ्या, आणि गोड-गोड बोला (til-gud ghyaa, aani goad-goad bola)” meaning, ‘Accept these sweets and utter sweet words. The first day of Makar Sankranti festival is known as Bhogi. This is when the sun god is worshipped and people step out of the house in the morning to fly kites. The second day is called Sankranti and on this day, married women dress up in ethnic wear and have a get-together called Haldi-Kumkum which translates to turmeric-vermilion.

Bihar

This day is celebrated as sankranti or Sakrat. People start doing new things from this day as this is believed to be auspicious day. People take bath in rivers and ponds and feast upon seasonal delicacies as a celebration of good harvest. The delicacies include Chura dahi, Gur(jaggery), various sweets made of til (Sesame seeds) such as Tilkut, Tilwa, Maska, etc., curd, milk and seasonal vegetables. Khichdi is consumed in the night. Rajgir is a holy place where devotees bath in brahma kund.

Devotees at Brahma kund
Devotees at Brahma kund

Uttar Pradesh

In hindu calendar, this is the first of the big bathing days. Over two million people gather at their respective sacred places for this holy bathing such as Allahabad,Haridwar(now in Uttarakhand) and Varanasi. People fly Kites on this day.

Punjab

In Punjab, with Makar Sankranti, lighting of bonfire is done to celebrate this featival. This festival is “maghi”. The bonfire signifies the burning away of all evils for a bright and auspicious new year.  Lohri is the harvest festival, which falls on 13th January, is an important festival of Punjab.

Gujarat

This festival is popular as Uttarayan. Kite flying is a major activity of this day. People eat delicacies undhiyu and chikkis and consume all through december and january.

Andhra Pradesh

This is a four day festival in Andhra Pradesh. Bhogi, Pedda Panduga (“the big festival”),  Kanuma and Mukkanuma. People discard old things on the day of Bhogi.

Next day is Makara Sankrant, also called “Pedda Panduga” (పెద్ద పండుగ). Everyone wears new clothes on this day, prays to God, and make offerings of traditional food to ancestors.

Rajasthan

This is a major festival of Rajasthan. People consume delicacies such as Ghevar, til paati, ghajak and kheer on this day.

A delicay of Makar Sankranti
A delicay of Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti and Pongal in Tamilnadu

Pongal is a four day festival.  The second day, Thai pongal is the most important.

  • Bhogi Pandigai (Bhogi)
  •  Thai Pongal
  •  Maattu Pongal
  •  Kaanum Pongal
Pongal
Pongal

Thai pongal is the first day of tamil month Thai.  People prepare a dish by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots. Ingredients like brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins adds to the taste. The preparation of dish is done by allowing it to boil over the vessel. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of “Ponggalo Ponggal!” and blowing the sangu (a conch), a custom running for ages during the festival to announce this year will have abundance of good tidings.

In Goa, women celebrate haldi-kumkum. In Himachal Pradesh, this festival is popular as Magha Saaja i.e. onset of  month magha (by Hindi calendar). People enjoy khichdi with chaas. In Karnataka, this is suggi. People follow the ritual of Ellu Birodhu. Kite flying is also a major activity. In Uttarakhand, Ghughuti is the name of this festival which welcomes the migratory birds back from the plains.

Makar Sankranti Decoration ideas

Since Makar Sankranti and Pongal are the festivals falling on New Year and Kite flying, some of the decoration ideas are following this theme. Below is an example of Rangoli.

Beautiful rangoli design as Makar Sankranti Decoration idea

Another Makar Sankranti decoration idea is as below:

Kite rangoli as Makar Sankranti Decoration idea

Makar Sankranti Quiz

In which direction, does Sun start moving on Makar Sankranti? – North. So, this also called that Surya has become Uttarayan.

Dulla Bhatti is a famous folklore character of Makar Sankranti n which state? Ans – Punjab

During Makar Sankranti the Sun makes a transition from a zodiac sign to another. From Sagittarius to Capricorn.

Which great character from Mahabharata waited till Makar Sankranti to die. Bhishma Pitamah

Parashuram Kund Snan during Makar Sankrantitakes place in Arunachal Pradesh. This is popular as Makar Sankranti Snan.

Makar Sankranti Daan

मकर संक्रान्ति के दिन सूर्य देव की पूजा काले तिल से की जाती है. साथ ही काली दाल, चावल, घी, नमक, गुड़ और काले तिल दान किए जाते हैं. काले तिल और गुड़ के लड्डू बनाकर खाए जाते हैं और दान भी किए जाते हैं. माना जाता है कि इससे सूर्यदेव और शनिदेव दोनों की कृपा प्राप्त होती है ।

मकर संक्रांति में क्या करना चाहिए?इसे सुनेंमकर संक्रान्ति के दिन गंगा स्नान और दान पुण्य का विशेष महत्व है। मान्यता है कि मकर संक्रान्ति के दिन देव भी धरती पर अवतरित होते हैं, और आत्मा को मोक्ष प्राप्त होता है। इस दिन पुण्य, दान, जप तथा धार्मिक अनुष्ठानों का अनन्य महत्व है। इस दिन गंगा स्नान व सूर्योपासना पश्चात गुड़, चावल और तिल का दान श्रेष्ठ माना गया है।

मकर संक्रां​ति के दिन खिचड़ी खाने और तिल के लड्डू खाने की परंपरा है. तिल की तासीर गर्म होती है. सर्दी के समय में तिल खाना स्वास्थ्य के लिए अच्छा होता है ।

2 thoughts on “Makar Sankranti – first major festival of the year”

  1. Wow…thanks for sharing this. Sankranti is one of the most important festivals celebrated with great pomp and show around India…but how much do we really know about its significance…yes the Sun changes its path and our mothers make til laddoos….but apart from this…how much do we know? I came across this article that throws light on this issue.

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