The meaning and significance of Makar Sankrant - the first Hindu festival in the beginning of every year.
Come January, Come Makar Sankrant. Sankrant is the first Hindu festival of the solar calendar year, falling on January 14. It is one of the most auspicious times for the followers of the Hindu religion. This festival coincides with the Sun's northward journey (Uttarayan). On Jan 14, the Sun enters the zodiac sign of Makar ( Capricorn). Sankrant means the movement from one zodiac sign to another. It is a special date when the day and night are of equal duration. Henceforth, the duration of the day becomes longer thereby providing a reason for celebration.
Significance and history
Sankrant symbolizes the onset of the harvest season and the end of winter. It has been celebrated as the harvest festival right from the times of the Aryans. The Sun God, Surya, is said to turn his back on winter with his chariot of seven horses marching forward. In Mahabharata too, the auspiciousness of this period is mentioned. Bhishma Pitamaha, in spite of being wounded and lying on a bed of arrows, waits for 'Uttarayan' to set in before breathing his last. It is believed that a person who dies in this period attains 'moksha' (salvation) and escapes the cycle of birth and death.
There is a wide variation in the celebration of Makar Sankrant throughout India.
- In Gujarat and Maharashtra, Makar Sankrant is a festival of the young and the old. In Maharashtra, all married women have a get together called 'Haldi-Kumkum' on this day. A 'puja' is offered after which women and their families exchange 'tilgud' - a sweet made out of sesame seeds as a gesture of goodwill and sisterhood. In Gujarat, kites take on a new meaning, as kite-flying fever grips everybody. The sky is dotted with kites of different shapes and colours as the fun- loving natives fly them with great enthusiasm. The spectacular symphony of colours is the best feature of this lively festival. Although tilgud and kite-flying were peculiar to celebrations in Maharashtra and Gujarat respectively, these features have become totally Indianised now. The Sankrant festival is a good example of the national integration of customs and traditions.
- In Punjab, Makar Sankrant is called 'Lohri'. A family get-together around a bonfire combined with a food fiesta and `Bhangra' (a famous Punjabi dance) mark this festival. Sugarcane, rice and sweets are tossed into the bonfire as an offering to the Sun God.
- In Uttar Pradesh, this period is celebrated as 'Kicheri'. Every year there is the famous Kumbh Mela at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati. Hordes of people throng to this mela and take a dip in the holy waters to cleanse themselves of their past sins.
- In the southern parts of India, Sankrant is the harvest festival 'Pongal'. The celebration of Pongal lasts for three days. On the first day, a preparation of rice boiled with milk is offered to the Rain God. On the second day, it is offered to the the Sun God and on the third day, the family cattle are given a bath and dressed with flowers, bells and colours. The cattle are honored for their hard work in the fields. It is regarded as the most important festival of
Now you can wish a colourful Makar Sankrant to your near and dear ones. Send your personalized Sankrant cards and add cheer to the life of your chosen ones. Teach your child to make a kite
Bring out the creative self in your child by teaching how to make easy and inexpensive kites. Also we provide safety guidelines for kitefliers. Recipes for Makar Sankrant
Four seasonal preparations that you and your family can devour this Sankrant, starting with the not-to-be-missed Teel Polis.