Makar Sankranti is a harvest festival that is celebrated every year on 14th January, in the month of Magha, as per the Hindu calendar. Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar, as it holds a religious significance for the Hindus. According to the Puranas, on this day, the Sun visits the house of Shani, the Swami of Makar Rashi. Also, this day symbolises the importance of special father-son relationship. It is believed that on this day Lord Vishnu conquered the demons and buried them under the Manadara Parvata, thereby marking the day as the victory of good over evil. Apart from this, this festival holds special mention in the epics of the Mahabharata. The story relates to Bhishma Pitamaha, wherein during a war, Arjuna’s arrows injured Bhishma Pitamaha. However, he chose to wait for the Uttarayan to set in so that he would get salvation and free himself from the cycle of rebirth.
The festival of Makar Sankranti is also given due importance in the Sikh community as the tenth Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh got Moksha (salvation) for fourteen Sikhs. This festival is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm in the states of Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Besides this, Makar Sankranti is also celebrated in other parts of the country and is known by different names viz. Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh and Uttarayan in Gujarat.
The traditional celebrations and rituals associated with Makar Sankranti vary from state to state. Since the festival traditionally coincides with the Sun’s northwards journey into the Uttarayan, when it enters the sign of Makar Rashi (the Capricorn), people in huge number take dips in the holy Ganga River at Haridwar and offer water to the Sun God (Surya). It is believed that by doing this, all sins will be purified and one can attain salvation. Also on this day, people worship Goddess Saraswati who is considered as the Goddess of knowledge. Apart from this, kite flying is a popular tradition on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. This is so because this festival coincides with the International Kite Festival which is held at Ahmedabad, Gujarat on 14th January.
How to celebrate Makar Sankranti at home?
- Wake-up early in the morning, before sunrise, have bath and dress up in new traditional clothes.
- Tell your children the significance of celebrating the festival of Makar Sankranti.
- Teach ‘Gayatri Mantra’ to your children.
- Worship the rising sun by offering water, flowers while chanting the Gayatri Mantra.
- Prepare special delicacies such as rice khichadi, til ke laddu, coconut chikki, ganee ki kheer etc.
- Encourage your children to make bright kites of different colours, sizes and shapes.
- Involve your children in flying kites.
So, on this auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti, pray to God for the well-being of one and all.