Makar Sankranti is the only Hindu festival based on the solar calendar instead of the lunar calendar. It falls on January 14th every year, and January 15th every leap year.
Sankranti means "movement" - it celebrates the sun's journey from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. And it celebrates the movement from the zodiac sign of Sagittarius to Capricorn (Makara).
Makar Sankranti is known by various names such as
- Maghi Sangrand in Punjab
- Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh
- Makar or Mokor Sankranti in Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa and West Bengal
How is it celebrated?
- People in Gujarat fly kites
- Known as Lohri festival in Punjab and Haryana where people dance around a bonfire
- In Maharashtra, married women distribute cotton, oil and salt
- Many melas (fairs) are held across different states
Every 12 years, Hindus observe Makar Sankranti with Khumbha Mela - one of the world's largest pilgrimage with 60 to 100 million people in attendance. It can be observed from space as well
Why is Makar Sankranti so important?
- Because it celebrates the one God that's responsible for life on earth - Surya (Sun God)
- It also marks the end of winter solstice and the beginning of warmer and longer days.
- Longer days = Harvest season
- India is an agricultural country which means the harvest season holds immense importance in daily lives
But wait.. there's more!
It celebrates movement (Sankranti)
- Movement of the planet, that's why it blooms with life
- Movement of the sun so that future crops can be planted
- Movement of every stage in life - birth, puberty, middle age and old age
"People have a problem with movement, not understanding that the very nature of life is movement. You can only enjoy and celebrate movement if you have one leg stuck in stillnes. If you know what stillness is then movement would be a pleasure
That stillness has a name. It is called consciousness"
By - Cuddly Gurus - Celebrating and honoring great Hindu Icons
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