Sankaranti means movement or changing of directions and Makara corresponds to the zodiac sign of Capricorn. Makara Sankranti is celebrated when the Sun moves northwards after the Winter Solstice. Astrologically, it refers to the transition of Sun from the zodiac sign of Sagittarius to Capricorn. In all there are twelve Sankranti’s, but this one is considered to be an auspicious one.
Makara Sankranti is called by different names in different parts of
, like Khichri Sankranti, Uttarayan, Ganga Sagar, Pongal, Bihu, etc. Though different places have differing significance, the day remains a very important day at the beginning of the year. This day onwards the climate changes a bit and the importance of Sun is acknowledged. It also marks the end of winter and the days start getting longer and the nights shorter. India
Makara Sankranti has a special significance in the Eastern parts of the country which celebrates the day as Ganga-Sagar Mela. It is said that Bhagirath had performed great penance to get the river Ganga on earth to redeem the sixty thousand sons of Sagar, who were burned to ashes my Kapil Muni. It was on this day that Bhagirath performed the last rites of his ancestors with the waters of the holy Ganga on earth thereby liberating his ancestors from the curse of Kapil Muni. After visiting the Patal-loka, Ganga merges with the Bay of Bengal at the site where the Ganga-Sagar mela is held annually.
Mahabharat mentions that after the war of Kurukshetra, it was on the day of Makara Sankranti that Bhishma Pitamah, the grand-patriarch of the two families decided to end his life and proceed for the heavens.
This day is also considered auspicious for the father-son relationship. Surya devta never got along with his son, Shani-dev (who is the Lord of the zodiac sign of Capricorn), but on this day, Surya visits his son and stays with him for a month. This day thus symbolises the importance of the relationship between a father and a son.
Similarly in many parts of the country, this is a harvest festival, as in Punjab and some states of Southern India. Besides, it also marks the last day of the famous forty-day Sabiramala festival in Kerala.
Needless to say, like all Hindu festival this day has its own recipes to be made and had. Preparations of jaggery and til (sesame seeds) are consumed across the country. Also, preparations of the newly harvested foods are the norm.
So on this day, leave the negative thoughts and move on with the Sun. Just as the Sun goes northwards, we mortals should try to ascend in our thoughts and deeds and actions. If we can’t match the movements of the Sun literally, let us match them symbolically at least.
Happy Makara Sankranti!