We have passed another year, and the first festival of the year, Makar Sankranti, will arrive soon. The festival cheers our lives as it brings optimism, liveliness and fills us with hopes. Before we get to know about the festival’s exciting facts, let us know the history and importance. Every year, we the Indians celebrate Makar Sankranti on a fixed date that is 14 January. The festival marks the termination of the winter season and the beginning of a new Harvest Season.
History of Makar Shankranti
Indians consider Sankranti a Deity, who, as per the legend, Sankranti killed a devil called Sankarasur. The day after the festival is Karidin or Kinkrant, the day when Devi slew the devil Kinkarasur. You can easily find the importance of Makar Sankranti in Panchang, which is the Hindu Almanac. The Almanac provides detailed information on the age, form, direction along with the movement and changes in the dates of Sankranti.
Here are the top 10 interesting facts about the festival that we don’t know:
One of the rare Hindu Festivals based on Solar Cycles
Dedicated to Lord Sun, the festival of Makar Sankranti refers to a specific solar day in the Hindu calendar. It is said that on this auspicious day, the sun enters the Zodiac sign Capricorn or Makar that marks the end of the winter month and the start of longer days and marks the beginning of the month of Magh. From the day of the festival’s celebration, the sun begins its northward journey. The journey is called Uttarayan journey, and hence the festival is also referred to as Uttrayan.
The craze for Kite Flying
The kite flying, also popularly known as The Kite Festival, is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Gujarat. The younger generations commemorate the day by flying kites. Most of us are of the view that people fly kites for enjoyment and recreation. However, there is a great significance of kite flying. People believe that we get affected by several infections and sickness during the winter season, which can get better cured by basking. Hence, we celebrate the festival of kite flying to make the basking time more exciting and fun.
The Festival of Donation
Above all, Indians call Makar Sankranti the Festival of Donations. On this auspicious occasion, people take a bath in the Haridwar, Kashi, and other pilgrim sites, which people might greatly appreciate. On the day of Sankranti, people worship the Sun God along with Lord Vishnu with immense devotion.
Taste of Sankranti
The festival has a different taste of its own and people do prepare and eat various dishes. Some of the famous words include the Til ke Laddu, Paatishaapte, Kurmure Chikki, Sakkarai Pongal, Puli, Pitha, Til Chikki Rewdi, Til Pitha, Gulachi pori also known as Jaggery chapatti, Makara Chaula, Crushed peanut laddu, Pinni, and Khichdi.
Most of the sweets prepared on the auspicious day include sesame and jaggery. There is a scientific reason for using sesame. Sesame seeds contain oil that generates heat in our bodies during the winters. Besides, the consumption of jaggery in winters also helps in keeping our bodies warm during the winters.
Different names of the festival
People all across the country observe the festival of Makar Sankranti, but it has different names in different states. In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, people celebrate the festival as Pongal for four days. The states of Punjab and Haryana call it Lohri, while in Gujarat, they call it Uttarayan. The Assamese observes the festival as Bhogali Bihu and Magh Bihu while Bihar calls it Til Sankranti.
In Uttar Pradesh, Makar Sankranti is the festival of Donation. The Magh fair continues for one month on the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati in Allahabad, which starts from the day of Sankranti. On this day, the people observe fast and offer khichdi. Even Gorakhdham in Gorakpur organizes Khichdi Mela every year.
In Maharashtra, the newly married women, on their first Sankrank, donate cotton and salt to other married women. The people of Bengal follow a tradition of donating Til on the auspicious day after taking a bath. Besides, in Gangasagar, people organize a great fair. The fair starts a couple of days before the festival and ends on the day after Makar Sankranti.
Makar Shankrati as the Harvest Festival
Many people call Makar Sankranti the Harvest Festival, as it marks the harvesting season’s onset. We consider it an auspicious day since the time of our great epic Mahabharata. According to the legends, Bhishma Pitamaha, after getting debilitated in the war, staggered until Uttaraayan received heavenly hearth on the day. Another significance of the day is that person demising on the day of Makar Sankranti receives Moksha or Salvation.
The Gangasagar Mela
In the view of the legend, on the day of Makar Sankranti, Ganga pursued Bhagirathi Muni and finally met the ocean. On the auspicious day, devotees gather in the Ganges and take a dip in the Gangasagar to celebrate the ocean’s conjunction and the holy river.
The festival marks the beginning of spring.
The festival indicates the end of the long winter months and thereby the onset of the spring season. As the sun moves towards the north, we observe equal hours of day and night. The festival indicates the beginning of warmer and longer days, which we regard it optimistic, as we consider the days sacred over the nights by the Hindus.
According to our Indian mythology, there is a story that says Lord Shiva asked his bull named Nandi to go to the Earth and ask the people to “have an oil bath every day and food once a month.” However, the bovine became confused, told the people to “have food every day and have an oil bath once a month.” Lord Shiva got enraged and asked Nandi to remain on the Earth, thereby helping the people plow the field as people will need to produce more food grains now. Thus, on the day of Makar Sankranti, people worship the cow as a God-sent aid for agriculture.
Thanksgiving day of India
While Thanksgiving has become famous and a “cool” festival due to the Hollywood movies and sitcoms, Indians the same on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti. You will not find much difference between the two festivals, as both are harvest festivals. Indians on this auspicious day greet their families and friends; share the food and other pleasantries. It is a day of complete enjoyment for all the Indians.