Makar Sankranti or Maghi is a festival day in the Hindu calendar rendered to the God Surya. The lunar month of Magha, also known month of January, is observed every year. For spiritual practices, the day is considered essential, and people, therefore, take a holy dip in the rivers, particularly Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery. According to the believes, bathing in holy river washes away sins.
What Is Makar Sankranti?
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in different regions of the Indian subcontinent to observe the day that marks the sun’s change into ever-longer days. Every year its celebration’s fixed date makes this festival stand out from the other Indian Hindu Festivals. Makar means Capricorn, and the Sankranti means transformation.
Makar Sankranti is also named Uttarayan because, from this day on, the sun starts its journey northward. As a sign of divinity and wisdom, Hindus revere the Sun God. After this change, days become longer and warmer compared to nights.
The harvest festival is observed, albeit under different names and customs, throughout India. Depending on the area it is being celebrated with different names like Pongal Festival in South India and Maghi in Pujab.
When Is Makar Sankranti Celebrated?
Makar Sankranti festival is a solar event that makes the day one of the few Hindu festivals to be held annually on the same date in gregorian calendar, 14 January, with some exceptions for the 15 January.
This festival is highly auspicious as it marks the first day of the sun’s change to sun signs, Capricorn or Makara.
To know when it is in this year, check Indian Festivals Calendar.
Why Makar Sankranti Is Celebrated?
Makar Sankranti, also known as Maghi, is a major harvest festival dedicated to Surya and marks the sun’s first day passing into Makara (Capricorn) Sunsign. The festival is also commonly referred to as Uttarayan because from the day of Makar Sankranti; the sun starts its northward journey.
History Of Makar Sankranti
Sankranti is a Goddess. According to legends, Goddess Sankranti killed a devil called Sankarasur. Karidin or Kinkrant are named the day next to Makar Sankrant. Devi slaughtered the devil Kinkarasur on this day. Makar Sankranti’s knowledge is available in Panchang. The Panchang is the Hindu Almanac that offers details on Sankranti’s age, shape, dress, path, and movement.
Devotees take a holy dip in many rivers that are deemed sacred on the festival’s day, including Yamuna, Ganga, Krishna, Godavari, and Cauvery. People believe that by doing so, they will wash away their sins and get peace and prosperity. Many spiritual rituals performed on this day. Along with this festival, Kumbh Mela also takes place every 12 years and is one of the world’s largest mass pilgrimages.
This festival is one of bonding in which every member of society must bury the hatchet and live in peace with friends and enemies. It’s also believed that you are not resurrected but go straight to heaven if you die during Makar Sankranti.
How Makar Sankranti Festival Is Celebrated?
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in various parts of India with distinct names; it is one of India’s major festivals. Celebrated in January, it has specific historical significance and is marked in various states with different names.
On this day people build bonfires; some make desserts, go to the Ganges, and feed their livestock.
Let’s have a glance at how different parts of India celebrate Makar Sankranti:
One of the most famous festivals in the state of Rajasthan is Makar Sankranti. Unique dishes such as til-paati, ghevar, gajak, pheni, kheer, pakodi, puwa, and til-laddoo are cooked by people in this state share with their family and friends. On this day, newly married brides and grooms receive presents from their in-laws. It is a state tradition for married women to gift makeup pieces, household objects, and unique dishes to other women. People fly kites in the evening and participate in a kite-flying competition.
In Maharashtra, Makar Sankranti celebrates for three days. People begin cleaning their homes, wearing new clothing, and inviting friends and family to visit them.
Day 1: It is called Bhogi. On this day, Maharashtrians pray to the Sun God. They also fly colourful kites together with friends and family.
Day 2: Women who are married exchange kumkum & Haldi (vermillion & turmeric powder) by applying on each other’s forehead. Also, they exchange gifts.
Day 3: Kinkrant-This is the day that Devi defeated a demon named Kinkarasur.
You might have noticed Maharashtrians say this during Makar Sankranti “Tilgul ghya goad bola.” In literal translation, it means, ‘Take sweet, talk sweet, be sweet.’
This famous Marathi phrase means, ‘Take this sweet made of til (sesame seeds) and gul/gud (jaggery) and speak sweetly.’ It signifies that we should give up our grudges and live peacefully together. It is a time for forgiveness and togetherness. So, even if there are disagreements, the festival is an excellent time to forgive, forget, and move on.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated in Punjab as Maghi. It is necessary to bathe in a river in the early hours of Maghi. This bath gives prosperity and pushes away all sin; Hindus light lamps with sesame oil. At Sri Muktsar Sahib on Maghi, a significant Mela held, commemorating a historical event in Sikh history.
“People dance their popular “bhangra” culturally. They then sit down together and eat the delicious meal that is prepared especially for the occasion. Eating kheer, rice cooked in milk and sugarcane juice, is common. Eating khichdi and jaggery is also common. The coldest months of the year in Punjab are December and January. Maghi reflects the shift of the season to warmer temperatures and the rise in daylight.
In Gujrat, Uttarayan lasts for two days, and people typically celebrate by flying kites. The region’s festival dishes are Undhiyu, a spicy baked mixture of winter vegetables and Chikkis made of sesame seeds, Peanuts, and Jaggery. The organisation of the International Kite Festival is seen in Uttarayan.
This festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Uttar Pradesh and includes traditional bathing and idolising God.
More than two million people gather in their respective sacred places for this holy bath: Allahabad and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar in Uttarakhand.
Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering globally, is seen during this time in Uttar Pradesh. Even on this occasion, individuals appear to conduct significant charities.
Makar Sankranti marked in Kerala by concluding the 40-day long Anushthaan performed by Lord Ayappa’s devotees. With joy and glory, the end of this Anushthaan is celebrated as a significant festival, especially in Sabarimala. Pilgrims from different areas of the region and the surrounding places visit the temple of Sabarimala to give their prayers to Makara Jyothi (a star who is assumed to be an incarnation of Lord Ayappa).
Makar Sankranti is characterised by feasts and bonfires called Magh Bihu and Bhogali Bihu. A significant part of the festival is the construction of temporary huts known as Meji and Bhelaghar. Before burning the buildings the next day, people prepare the food in these temporary shelters for the feast. The festival is synonymous with games such as tekeli bhonga and buffalo battle. Shunga pitha, til pitha, and other sweets called lashkara are made during Magh Bihu.
Makar Sankranti named in Bengali after a particular fall month. This festival is called by a different name, which is Poush Parbon.
The sweets exchanged include the newly harvested paddy in Khejurer Gur and Patali, the date palm syrup. All segments of society take part in a three-day process.
On the day of Sankranti, Goddess Lakshmi worshipped. It is also called Baharlakshmi puja.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated as ‘Pongal Festival,’ i.e., the Tamil New Year in Tamil Nadu. People in this state offer Pongal more meaning than festivals like Diwali or Holi. It is mainly a farmers’ festival where they give a dish to the Sun God, prepared by boiling rice and pulses together in ghee.
Bihar and Jharkhand
Makar Sankranti is also a trendy festival in Bihar and Jharkhand. People start their day by worshipping and placing til (sesame seeds) in the fire. Then, they begin eating Dahi-Chuda. It is a dish made of beaten rice (chuda or poha in Hindi, or avalakki in Kannada) that is served with a vast amount of Dahi (curd), cooked kohada (red pumpkin), specially prepared with sugar and salt but no water.
The meal is usually followed by tilkut and lai (laddu made of til, chuda, and rice). Women in communities usually allow the festive meal. Lunch is generally missed because the meal is heavy, and the time is instead spent on socializing and participating in kite flying festivals.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Four days of the festival are celebrated—Bhogi, Makara Sankranti, Kanuma, and Mukkanuma. People wear new clothes on this day and give traditional food to their ancestors. With chalk or flour, called Muggu, they often render beautiful and ornate drawings and designs on the ground.
As Mukkunama sees farmers offering prayers to the elements, Kanuma sees farmers showing their cattle as a sign of prosperity.