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MAKAR SANKRANTI The transition of the Sun
WHAT IS MAKAR SANKRANTI? . On this day people thank the Sun God “Suryadev” for a good harvest, and offer the first grain to him. It marks the transition of the Sun into Makar Rashi, or the zodiac sign of Capricorn. From this day the Sun begins its 6 month long journey towards the north, also known as Uttarayan. It’s considered an auspicious time.
Makar Sankranti is the harvest festival of India A It’s also known as the Thanksgiving festival of India. Unique feature of this festival is that it’s always celebrated on January 14 th.
WHY IS IT CELEBRATED? There are lot of reasons to celebrate this festival. The Puranas say that on this day, Suryadev visits his son Shani, who is the master of Makar Rashi. It’s said that the father and son do not get along well. However, Suryadev still makes it a point to visit his son on this day. On this day, Lord Vishnu ended the powers if the Asuras by defeating them and burying their heads under the Mandarachal Mountain. So this occasion also represents the end of negativities and a beginning of an era of righteous living.
WHY IS IT CELEBRATED The importance of this day was highlighted during the Mahabharat, when Bheeshma was intent to leave his body on this day. On this day, Shree Kripaluji Maharaj was invited by the Kashi Vidvat Parishat and spoke in a sophisticated Sanskrit language for ten days. They then unanimously conferred on him the original title of Jagadguru. Devotee of Maharaj ji celebrate it as “Jagadguru Divas”.
HOW IS IT CELEBRATED? It’s celebrated in almost all parts of India, and the celebration depends on the region. Houses are cleaned, painted, and decorated and kolams/Rangoli are made in front of the houses. Many people take bath in holy rivers like Ganga, Yamuna or visit holy places like Kashi , Prayag and pray to Suryadev.
HOW IS IT CELEBRATED? People buy new clothes for the whole family to mark the festivities. On this day, people visit each other and they exchange sweets and delicacies. Some foods people make are laddus made if sesame seeds and jaggery. They are specialities of the festival.
CELEBRATION IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF INDIA Although Makar Sankranti is celebrated throughut India, It is most elaborate, colorful and vibrant in the south part of India especially Tamil Nadu. It is known as Pongal in Tamil Nadu which derives its name from the ritual of boiling a mixture of rice, milk and jaggery, and allowing it to spill over.
Pongal Celebration This celebration last for four days. The first day is called “Bhogi Pongal”. People clean their houses and burn the useless household articles into a fire made of wood and cow dung cakes. This ritual symbolizes the destruction and elimination of bad thoughts. Continued---
Pongal Celebration The second day of the festival is known as Pongal. Prayers are offered to the sun God early in the morning. Family members gather outside their house and cook Pongal in clay pots. Clay pots are painted and decorated with turmeric, flowers and mango leaves. When the rice inside the pot overflows. The people rejoice saying, Pongal o Pongal!, as the overflow of rice symbolizes a prosperous farming for them. People worship Sun God on this day by offering both pongal and sugarcane. Sugarcane is offered as a symbol of sweetness and happiness in life.
Pongal Celebration The third day is known as “Maatu Pongal”. This day is considered as the day of pongal for cows. For villagers, the cow, a giver of milk and the bull which ploughs the fields are very valuable and therefore farmers dedicate this day in honor of their cattles. This is a thanksgiving for these two animals. Cattles are washed and their horns are decorate with paint flowers. A bull taming sport called “Jallikattu” is played on this day. A bull is left to run in an open ground. Young men display their bravery by attempting to jump on the bull and control it. People gather in thousands to watch this sport.
Pongal Celebration The fourth day of pongal is called “Kaanum Pongal”. This day is very similar to Raksha bandhan and Bhai dhooj celebrated in northern India. On this day women offers prayers for the well being of their brothers. People travel to see other family members and the younger members of the family pay homage to the elders, and the elders thank them by giving token money.
Celebration in other parts of India Gujarat, Rajasthan: People celebrate this festival by flying kits. Lot of different colors and shapes kites are flown in the sky and kite flying contest are held in almost every town of the city. In Gujarat this festival is known as “Uttarayan”.
Celebration in other parts of India Punjab: In Punjab this festival is known as “Lohri”. People get together around fire and sing dance till late night.
Celebration in other part of India Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh: It is known as “Sankranti” in Andhra Pradesh and “Yellu-Bella” in Karnataka. Womens in each hose hold prepare sweets made up of jaggery, sesame seeds, coconut, groundnuts and distribute to their friends and relatives.
Celebration in other parts of India Maharashtra: It is called as “Tilgul”. This is a very special day for married women who are invited for a get together known as “Haldi-Kumkum” and share sweets and give gift of utensils.
SIGNIFICANCE OF CELEBRATION Makar Sankranti symbolizes a new beginning for everyone. It’s an occasion to forget the past and allow new light to enter one’s life. It’s an opportunity for families to offer respect to the land animals that feed them on a daily basis. It gives us a chance to thank God for prosperity and well-being throughout the year.