Historical relevance of Makar Sankranti

Historical relevance of Makar Sankranti

After a long period of inactivity on the festival front due to ‘malmas’, Udaipurites celebrate Makar Sankranti on Jan 14.


Historical relevance of Makar Sankranti

After a long period of inactivity on the festival front due to ‘malmas’, Udaipurites celebrate Makar Sankranti on Jan 14.

The celebration of Makar Sankranti is based on astronomical calculations that show why it takes place on Jan 14 every year barring certain exceptional factors. It is believed that stars and constellations have an impact on our lives. Their position in the firmament keeps changing from time to time.

Our earth also changes its position, we have day and night due to the shape of the earth and its revolving on its axis. The portion of the earth which faces the sun has day, while the one not facing the sun has night.

It is also due to daily rotation of the earth, which has annual rotation also; it revolves around the sun which takes one year. And, this results in change in seasons in different parts of the earth as is also, the basis of calculation of the year and months.

When the sun moves towards the south it is ‘dakshinayan’ and it is ‘uttarayan’ when the movement is northward. Thus the year is divided into two equal parts of six months each.

The change in the direction of the movement is called ‘Sankranti’. When the sun changes its direction and enters ‘Makar rashi’, the day is called Makar Sankranti, which falls on 14 Jan this year.

Hindus consider this event as very auspicious and take this change as a movement from darkness to light. Days begin to be longer and nights shorter which increases the period of light. And that’s why Makar Sankranti is celebrated as a festival in various parts of the country.

In Gujarat, it is celebrated as Uttarayan, as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Shishur Sankrat in Kashmir, Makarvillaku in Kerala, Kichri in U.P. and Bihar, Suggi in Goa and Pedda Pandunga in Andhra Pradesh.

The daily worship of Surya has been prevalent in India since the period of Ramayana. It is said that when Lord Ram was getting ready to fight Ravana, he was advised by Valmiki to worship Surya. Ram did so and was victorious. It is thought that this worship enhances one’s energy, determination and faith in God.

It is believed that leaving one’s body during Uttarayan is highly auspicious. And, that’s why Bhishma Pitamah who was wounded in the Mahabharata battle waited for long and decided to leave his body during this period.

According to Puranas, on this day Surya, who is the master of Makar rashi came to meet his son Shani, though they were not in good terms. So it is considered to be auspicious day.

Lord Vishnu vanquished the ‘asuras’ to stop their terror and put their dead bodies under Mandar Mountain. On this very day, Bhagirath brought the holy waters of Ganga on earth to get salvation for his ancestors.

After an auspicious period called ‘malmas’, when there are no celebrations, like marriages, house warming etc., celebrations start again. Devotees in Udaipur have an early bath and they visit temples like Shrinath temple, Jagdish temple, Asthal mandir, Baiji Raj ka kund, Mitharam mandir, Mahakaleshwar, Hazareshwar and Gupteshwar Mahadev where special rituals are performed.

The deities are attractively dressed and decorated. Special ‘bhog’ is offered to them and then distributed as ‘prasad’ among devotees. In the homes traditional dishes such as porridge made with wheat and milk and ‘til’ and ‘gud’ are prepared.

Makar Sankranti is considered to be an extremely auspicious occasion for charity and giving alms, especially, rice, ‘gud’ and clothes. That’s why right from early morning streets are full with people asking of alms.

Children as well as elderly people, men and women can be seen playing traditional games like ‘sitolia’ and ‘mardari’ on the streets. Various cultural programs and competitions are also organized. The whole town seems to be in festive mood.

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