Makar Sankranti is one of the important festival celebrated all over India. It is a major harvesting festival. According to the lunar calendar, when there is movement of sun from the Tropic of Cancer also called dakshinayana to the Tropic of Capricorn also called uttarayana , in amidst of January, it marks the birth of the harvesting season. The name Makar Sankranti has a unique and special meaning. As there is movement of earth from one zodiac sign to another, it is called Sankranti and movement of sun into Capricorn also called Makar in Hindi gives the name Makar.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated every year on 14th or 15th January in various parts of India. The festival marks the beginning of an important phase called as holy phase of transition. It is said that it ends the inauspicious period which prevails from December. So from the starting of this festival the Hindu families believe it to be a good omen to start any holy rituals and new works. All over the country, the festival is entertained with great joy and enthusiasm. In different states it is called by different names, but it spreads the same message of peace and wisdom.
The Significance of Makar Sankranti
The main significance of the festival is the movement of zodiacs which is very important for smooth natural phenomenon. It makes the earth properly revolve around the sun and this revolution brings the change in our daily experiences of the planet.
There are many sankrantis that occur throughout the year; but most important of them are Makar Sankranti and the opposite is Karka Sankranti. Every time there is change in zodiac sign, the Sankranti occurs. The movements are very important for the perfect working on the planet. If this movement stops, our life will stop.
There are many cultural significances of the festival. These are as discussed below:
• The Puranas tell that on this day the Sun God visits his son Shani’s house. Lord Shani is the lord of Makar rashi. So this symbolises the strong relation between father and his son. It is the duty of son to fulfil his father’s dream and to take care of the betterment of the family.
• It is also the mythological belief that on this day Lord Vishnu finished the terror of evil demons by killing them off and buried their heads under a famous mountain named as Mandara Parvata. So the festival symbolises the end of evil and negative powers and beginning of positivity.
• Some people believe that on this day, King Bhagirath did great ceremonies to bring river Ganga on earth to save 60,000 sons of king Sagar, who were burnt at Kapil muni asharam. Finally, he washed his bad luck with the holy water of river Ganga and liberated his family and ancestors from the curse. So every year on this eve, there is a great fest at the place where river Ganga meets with Bay of Bengal. People take bath in this sacred water to get redemption from their sins.
Celebration of the Eve
• On this day, people get up early in the morning before sunrise. The take bath and get ready with flowers and holy water to greet and welcome sunrise. As the sun rises, it is worshipped by offering flowers and water. Prayers are offered by chanting some mantras. People wish lord to grant them with knowledge and wisdom and power to reach the heights of success. They also pray to lead life in a right and holy way
• Then people pray for their ancestors by taking in River Ganga and offer holy water to their ancestors and pray to get their blessings. Prayers are offered to the forefathers for the prosperity of the families and they arev asked to pour their blessings always on the family.
• Then a special meditation is performed by people to set their spiritual goals and prayers are done to God to fulfil those goals so that God should bless everyone with the power to reach their aim and each person rise like the Sun and may there be love and prosperity in everyone’s life.
• After this, sweets are prepared from jiggery and til and are offered to God. Then sweets are distributed among the poor and needy. It is also given to friends, family and relatives.
• In lunch khichri is prepared which symbolises simplicity in deeds and daily life style.
• Also money and clothes are given to the needy people to help them out.
• Presents are given to all family members to express love and care towards them.
The festival gives the message that the life moves on and we should try to live it in a gentle manner with peace and happiness.
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