Makar Sankranti

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Date(s) - 14/01/2020
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Makar Sankranti is a harvest festival celebrated in India, Nepal, and parts of Bangladesh in various cultural forms. It is one of the most auspicious days for Hindus all over India. It is celebrated with pomp and devotion in almost all the states of India in various forms.

Makar Sankranti is a festival of the harvest season when the Sun enters the Tropic of Capricorn or ‘Makar’.

It usually coincides with 14th or 15th of January every year corresponding to the month of ‘Magh’ according to the Hindu calendar.
‘Makar Sankranti’ is celebrated for three consecutive days -‘Bhogi’, ‘Sankranti’ and ‘Kinkrant’ in honor of ‘Goddess Sankranti’ who killed ‘Sankrasur Rakshasa’ or Demon on this day. Married women celebrate ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ while the men and boys fly kites. People distribute ’til-gul laddoos’ made from jaggery and sesame seeds among themselves.

However, Makar Sankranti in 2017 will be observed on Saturday, 14th January. Makar Sankranti is all about forgetting bitter and sad moments which happened in the past and welcoming the new phase of life which is full of purity, knowledge, and wisdom.

Significance

The festival is dedicated to the Hindu sun god, Surya. This significance of Surya is traceable to the Vedic texts, particularly the Gayatri Mantra, a sacred hymn of Hinduism found in its scripture named the Rigveda. The festival also marks the beginning of a six months auspicious period for Hindus known as Uttarayana period.

Makar Sankranti is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery. The bathing is believed to result in merit or absolution of past sins. They also pray to the sun and thank for their successes and prosperity. A shared cultural practices found amongst Hindus of various parts of India is making sticky, bound sweets particularly from sesame (til) and a sugar base such as jaggery (gud, gur). This type of sweet is a symbolism for being together in peace and joyfulness, despite the uniqueness and differences between individuals. For most parts of India, this period is a part of early stages of the Rabi crop and agricultural cycle, where crops have been sown and the hard work in the fields is mostly over. The time thus signifies a period of socializing and families enjoying each other’s company, taking care of the cattle, and celebrating around bonfires.

Makar Sankranti is an important pan-Indian solar festival, known by different names though observed on the same date, sometimes for multiple dates around the Makar Sankranti. It is known as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh, Biku in Assam, Magha Mela in parts of central and north India, as Makar Sankranti in the west, and by other names.
Nomenclature and regional names

Makara or Makar Sankranti is celebrated in many parts of Indian subcontinent with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different parts of the region:

Suggi Habba, Makar Sankramana: Karnataka
Makar Sankranthi: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala
Makar Sankranti: Chhattisgarh, Goa, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Jammu
Thai Pongal, Uzhavar Thirunal: Tamil Nadu
Uttarayan: Gujarat
Maghi: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu: Assam
Shishur Saenkraat: Kashmir Valley
Khichdi: Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar
Poush Sangkranti: West Bengal
Tila Sakrait: Mithila

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