Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival marking the Sun’s transit to Makara (Capricorn) rasi. It usually falls on January 14 and is the first major Hindu festival in the Gregorian calendar year. The term ‘Sankranti’ means movement and Makar Sankranti precisely denotes the movement of the Sun into Makara. It also marks the beginning of the Uttarayana or northward movement of the Sun.
Makar Sankranti, in many parts of India, is a harvest festival dedicated to Surya – the Sun God. The day is celebrated in various states with great zest and fervor.
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Makar Sankranti 2021 – Determination of date
Makar Sankranti is determined according to the solar cycle while most of the Hindu festivals are based on the lunar calendar. Sankrant refers to the Sun’s transit into a new rasi/zodiac. They mark the first day of that particular solar month. Makar Sankranti denotes Sun’s transit into Makara (Capricorn), and it marks the first day of the month Makara.
When is Makar Sankranti 2021?
Makar Sankranti 2021 Date – 14 January, Thursday
Makar Sankranti 2021 Muhurat
Makar Sankranti 2021 : Januray 14, Thursday
Makara Sankranti Moment : 08:30 AM
Makara Sankranti 2021 Punya Kala : 08:30 AM to 05:46 PM, Duration – 09 Hours 16 Mins
Makara Sankranti 2021 Maha Punya Kala : 08:30 AM to 10:15 AM, Duration – 01 Hour 45 Mins
Makar Sankranti 2021 Puja Vidhi
The house and puja room should be cleaned and kept ready for puja. The puja is done to seek the blessings of Lord Surya. So the idol or image of Lord Surya is kept on an altar. A plate with four white and black laddoos made with sesame, money, a mixture of rice flour and turmeric powder, betel nuts and leaves, holy water, flowered, and incense sticks are kept ready. Women have to cover their heads with a sari or shawl during the puja. Surya mantra “Om Hram Hreem Hroum Sah Suryay Namah” is chanted while doing the puja.
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Why do we celebrate Makar Sankranti?
The term Sankranti means the movement of the Sun. Every time the Sun enters a new rasi, Indians observe Sankranti, and Makar Sankranti is given more importance as it comes after the southern solstice and marks the beginning of Sun’s movement towards the north.
The significance of Sankranti is that they remind us of the fact that life is sustained by these relative movements of the Earth and Sun. The change of seasons, the equinoxes, the northern solstice (summer solstice), the southern solstice (winter solstice) etc. are all the results of this movement. During the winter solstice, the tilt of the earth is at maximum and the Sun reaches its southernmost point. From this day, the Sun’s northern movement gets strong and Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of the period with steady growth in the duration of daytime.
Astrological significances of Makar Sankranti 2021
Sankranti or Sankramanam refers to the transit of the Sun from one sign/rasi to another. The first day of every solar month is a Sankranti signifying the transit of the Sun into that particular rasi. Thus, there are 12 Sankrantis in a year. Out of these twelve Sankranti, Makar Sankranti and Karka Sankranti are given more importance for their astrological and climatic significance.
Makar Sankranti comes after the winter solstice (shortest day) in Dhanu and Karka Sankranti comes after the summer solstice (shortest night) in Midhuna. During Makar Sankranti, as the Sun enters Makara rasi in the southern hemisphere, it also starts the Uttarayana or northward movement.
When the Sun passes the equinox in Thula and moves south, the days get shorter than the nights. It progresses in this way until the winter solstice in Dhanu which marks the shortest daylight of the year. After the winter solstice, as the Sun starts the Uttarayana or northward movement, the duration of daytime increases.
Among all the 12 Sankranthi, Makar Sankranti is the most promising one and is observed all over India. With Makar Sankranti, the days get longer and warmer consistently. In many parts of India, it marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated as a harvest festival.
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Importance of Makar Sankranthi in the spiritual domain
Makar Sankranti is considered to be very important for the sages and Yogis. A Yogi’s life is based on the divine bond between the human system and the cosmic system. Their spiritual developments happen in accordance with the movements in the Universe and corresponding developments on earth. Makar Sankranti is a movement or transition. It marks a new phase of life; a gradual development of longer and warmer days.
What is the significance of Makar Sankranti?
Legends and ancient scriptures
The significance of Makar Sankranti day is traceable to the Vedic texts. In Mahabharata, Bhishma Pitamaha, who was blessed with the boon of choosing his death time, waited for the beginning of Uttarayana to relieve the soul from his body lying on the bed of arrows. Another legend associated with Makar Sankranti is that Lord Surya chose this day to visit his son Sani – the lord of Makara rasi. Hence, there is a belief that this day is significant in strengthening the bond or resolving the conflicts between a father and son. Another legend associated with this festival is the triumph of Lord Vishnu over the Asuras. It says that Lord Vishnu ended the distress caused by Asuras on Prithvi Lok by chopping their heads off and burying them under the Mandara Parvat. Hence, Makar Sankranti also signifies the victory of good over evil.
Social and cultural significances of Makar Sankranti
The occasion of the Makar Sankranti festival is an important period in the agricultural cycle. For most parts of India, it is either the harvest time or the period after sowing. The festival observances and way of worship vary across the length and breadth of India. In some areas it is a single day festival observed only on the Sankranti, while in some states, it’s a multi-day celebration. The celebrations include observances meant to thank Sun God for the good harvest and paving respect to the earth, the crops, and the cattle. It is also an occasion of socializing in many parts of India. There is a tradition of preparing sweets at home, particularly from sesame and jaggery.
Kite flying is a tradition of Makar Sankranti in certain regions in India. In this modern era, it is becoming more popular and has spread to new areas. Every year, on January 14, the cities of Ahmedabad and Delhi conduct Kite Flying Festivals. A huge mass of people from various parts of the country and abroad participate in these events which have got international recognition.
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Makar Sankranti in India
The day of Sankranti is important for Hindus all over India. Makar Sankranti festival is celebrated in every corner of the nation, but under different names and with different traditions. The festival is known by various names such as Lohri in certain North Indian regions, Sukarat in central regions, and Sankranti or Pongal in Southern regions. It is celebrated in Haryana, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh regions as Maghi; the name signifying the corresponding lunar month of Magha. For the Assamese Hindus, the Makar Sankranti festival is known as Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu and, in West Bengal, it is Poush Sangkranti. In the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, it is known as Sankrant and, in Bihar, it is Kichari. Going to the South, this festival is known as Pongal in Tamil Nadu and is celebrated with huge fanfare. It is known as Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh and Sankranti in Karnataka.
Thus, the tradition of celebrating the Makar Sankranti festival varies with different regions and their cultures. But for all, it is related to the astrological and agricultural cycles and has certain observances in common such as paying respect to the Sun, the Earth, the crops, and the cattle. Also, in some regions, observing vrat or fasting, conducting pujas at homes, and giving alms are parts of the festival.
Pilgrimages during Makar Sankranti 2021
Makar Sankranti is a day of major religious observances at various Hindu pilgrim centers in India. The day is regarded as important for spiritual practices and devotees take a dip in the holy rivers viz. Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery. Also, Makar Sankranti coincides with some melas or religious fairs witnessing the huge participation of devotees. The most famous of these meals is the Kumbh Mela held every 12 years at one of four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain, and Nashik. The Makar Sankranti festival is celebrated by thousands of devotees during the Magh Mela (mini Kumbh Mela held annually at Prayag).
The Gangasagar Mela held at Sagar Island in West Bengal where Ganga approaches the ocean is another major event where hundreds of thousands of devotees celebrate Makar Sankranti. It is the most important day of the famous Sabarimala Pilgrimage. The influx of devotees to Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, Kerala will be at the maximum on this day and hundreds of tons of people gather at temple premises to witness the auspicious Makara Vilakku and Makara Jyothi.
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The other major melas observed during the occasion of Makar Sankranti include Tusu Mela or Tusu Porab celebrated in Jharkhand and West Bengal, Poush Mela celebrated in Shantiniketan, West Bengal and Makar Mela observed in Odisha.