Makar Sankranti is a very auspicious day in Hindu customs. Throughout India, people celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm and fervor. Devotees visit temples early in the morning after a ritual bath, offering Dan Punya and pray to God asking for blessings for the whole family.
The festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated in different names in different parts of the country. In south India, it is known as ‘Pongal’ ( Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh), In Punjab and Haryana it is called ‘Lohri’, however Lohri celebrated before the day of Sankranti, Magh Bihu in Assam and in UP and Bihar, known as Khichdi.
The famous kite flying festival takes place in Gujarat where large families get on to the terrace of their respective houses to compete in flying kites with relatives and neighbors.
The festival is an important occasion to mark the end of dark phases and the beginning of a new phase in everyone’s lives. People celebrate the festival to bring in a feeling of universal brotherhood and harmony among people.
Just like many other Hindu festivals, this is also an important festival for Hindus to celebrate their harvest with festivities and colorful decorations.
What is unique about this festival is that, while all the other festivals follow the lunar calendar for calculating the precise date of every festival, this is the only festival that follows the solar calendar and hence it falls on the same date almost every year.
On this festival, people buy new clothes, eat special preparations at home and visit temples. A special preparation of sesame and jaggery is combined to make special laddoos that make the occasion truly special.
The purpose of eating these laddoos is that, sesame contains oil based constituents in every grain of sesame. During the cold season, skin gets dry and flaky and requires moisture for keep it smooth and protected. So this moisturizing benefit is got from eating sesame laddoos, which is an essential part on the festive day.
On the auspicious day of Sankranti, the sun transits to the tropic of Capricorn from the tropic of cancer.
It is believed that, Capricorn is the zodiac sign if Saturn. Saturn as we all know is Sun lord’s son. So, in other words, it simply means that the sun lord comes down to his son’s place to stay with him. Thus, it signifies forgetting old bitterness and quarrels in the past, leaving behind our well framed egos and stepping into a beautiful world of love and concern.
Establishing cordial relationships with the people we love, ending any kind of bitterness or grudges we hold and also creating a happy frame for us and for the people around us truly signifies why we should celebrate this festival.
The Indian farmer is one big community in India that toils in lands, cultivating crops round the year without taking any breaks for relaxation.
They do not get leaves in the weekends, they do not spend the weekends thronging malls and complexes, and instead they work hard in the fields to produce the staple food that we eat daily through our meals.
It is because of the farmers that we are able to eat a sufficient meal and fill our stomach. This festival in a big manner is a big tribute to the Indian farmer and a celebration of his hard work.
After a hard working year in the field, it is time when farmers turn happy with the produces they obtain in their fields and later celebrate this harvest season in the form of joy and get together on Makar Sankranti festival.
Women especially in the northern regions of India, compulsorily take this holy dip to for long lives of their husbands. Beginning with Makar Sankranti, the days get longer and nights get shorter.
This also marks a coincidence for wives to seek blessings for their husbands. So, celebrating this festival on this auspicious day is very important. The highly significant Kumbh Mela celebrations begin from this day onwards.
Beginning from the day of Makar Sankranti, it is believed that a person who passes away during the six months starting from the festival day , that is during the period of Uttarayan reaches heaven directly and does not have a re-birth again.
These beliefs are very important aspects of Hindu mythology and it is popularly known that during Mahabharata, Bhishma actually waited for the Uttarayan period to commence to set himself free and left this world.