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Makar Sankranti and why it is celebrated

Makar Sankranti 2022: The day dedicated to Lord Surya; the Sun God is both religious as well as seasonal observance as it is a major harvest festival celebrated by Hindus across India. Makar Sankranti is the date from which the northward movement of the sun begins. The period from Karka Sankranti to Makar Sankranti is known as the Dakshinayan.

Makar Sankranti is the first major festival to be celebrated in India and usually takes place in January 14. Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival, however different states celebrated the festival under different names, traditions and festivities. Makar Sankranti marks the end of winter as well as the beginning of longer days on account of the sun's northward journey, this period is also known as Uttarayan on this account and is considered to be very auspicious.

The harvest festival is both a religious as well as seasonal observance, and is dedicated to Lord Surya, the Sun God and marks the sun's transit into Makara (Capricorn) raashi (zodiac sign). The festival is majorly celebrated in the Indian Subcontinent and also by Indians and Hindus around the world. The festivities related to Makar Sankranti have many names depending on the region it is being celebrated.

Why it is a religious festival?

According to the scriptures, Dakshinayan symbolizes the night of God or the sign of negativity, and Uttarayan is considered as a symbol of the day of God or a sign of positivity. Since on this day, the sun starts its journey towards the north so, people take a holy dip in Ganga, Godavari, Krishna, Yamuna River at holy places, chant mantras, etc. Normally the sun affects all the zodiac signs, but it is said that the entry of the sun in the zodiac sign of Cancer and Capricorn religiously is very fruitful.

Sankranti is deemed a Deity. As per the legend, Sankranti killed a devil named Sankarasur. The day next to Makar Sankrant is called Karidin or Kinkrant. On this day, Devi slew the devil Kinkarasur. The information of Makar Sankranti is available in Panchang. The Panchang is the Hindu Almanac that provides information on the age, form, clothing, direction, and movement of Sankranti. Hindus perform Haldi Kumkum ceremony in a way that invokes the waves of quiescent Adi - Shakti in the Universe to get triggered. This helps in generating an impression of Sagun devotion on the mind of a person & enhances the Spiritual emotion to God.

For believers, taking a dip wash away their sins, it is also considered a time of peace and prosperity and many spiritual practices are conducted on this day. Sesame and jaggery ladoos or chikkis are distributed on this day. Popularly referred to as til-gud. The sweet signifies that people must stay together in peace and harmony despite their differences. In Gujarat, kite flying is organised as part of Makar Sankranti festivities. It is also believed that those who die on Makar Sankranti are not According to Hindu belief, if one dies on Makar Sankranti, they are not reborn, but go straight to paradise.

While festivities may not be as per as previous years on account of the coronavirus pandemic, usually on this day devotees take a dip in rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery that are considered to be holy. According to Makar Sankranti is on Friday, January 14 - Magh Krishna Paksha Dwitiya tithi. Makar Sankranti Punya Kala or auspicious time starts at 8:30 AM and ends at 5:46 PM. While Makar Sankranti Maha Punya Kala starts at 8:30 AM and ends at 10:15 AM.

Before Makar Sankranti, the sun is in the Southern Hemisphere. For this reason, in India, in winter nights are longer and days are smaller. But with the Makar Sankranti, the sun starts its journey towards Northern Hemisphere and so, days will be longer and nights smaller.

On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, people express their gratitude towards the people of India throughout the year by worshiping the sun God in various forms. Any meritorious deeds or donations during this period establishes more fruitful.