|Type||Religious & Cultural, Harvest festival, welcome longer days, sun worship|
|Celebrations||Kite flying, bonfires, fairs, surya puja in river, feast, arts, dance, socialization, Cow Pooja|
|Begins||January 13 or 14|
|Date||14 January (non-leap year) or 15 January (in leap year)|
|2021 date||14 January (Thu)|
|2022 date||Friday, 14 January|
|Related to||Pongal, Maghe Sankranti, Magh Bihu, Maghi, Tusu Festival|
|Part of a series on|
Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan or Maghi or simply Sankranti, also known in Bangladesh as Poush Sankranti, is a harvest festival day in the Hindu calendar, dedicated to the deity Surya (sun). It is observed each year the day Sun enters the Capricorn zodiac which corresponds with the month of January as per the Gregorian calendar. It marks the first day of the sun's transit into Makara rashi (Capricorn).
Due to the addition of one day in leap years, the date of Makar Sankranti may vary a bit. On leap years it falls on 15 January, otherwise on 14 January. There are 365.24 days in one year but we can use only 365 whole days. Then we add one day on the leap year. By the time of leap year, year Calendar is lagging almost one day behind the sun, causing Makar Sankranti to fall on 15 January. When correction is made Makar Sankranti falls back on 14 January.
The festivities associated with Makar Sankranti are known by various names Magh Bihu in Assam, Maghi (preceded by Lohri) in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, popular amongst both the Hindus and Sikhs, Sukarat in central India, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Uttarayan in Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, Ghughuti in Uttarakhand, Makara Sankranti in Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal (also called Poush Sankranti), Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh (also called Khichidi Sankranti) or as Sankranthi in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Maghe Sankranti (Nepal), Songkran (Thailand), Thingyan (Myanmar), Mohan Songkran (Cambodia), and Shishur Sankrat (Kashmir). On Makar Sankranti the Sun god is worshipped along with Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi throughout India.
Makar Sankranti is observed with social festivities such as colourful decorations, rural children going house to house, singing and asking for treats in some areas, melas (fairs), dances, kite flying, bonfires and feasts. The Magha Mela, according to Indologist Diana L. Eck, is mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Many observers go to sacred rivers or lakes and bathe in a ceremony of thanks to the sun. Every twelve years, the Hindus observe Makar Sankranti with Kumbha Mela – one of the world's largest mass pilgrimage, with an estimated 40 to 100 million people attending the event. At this event, they say a prayer to the sun and bathe at the Prayaga confluence of the River Ganga and River Yamuna, a tradition attributed to Adi Shankaracharya.
Makar Sankranti is set by the solar cycle and corresponds to the exact time astronomical event of Sun Entering in Capricorn sign and is observed on a day that usually falls on 14 January of the Gregorian calendar, but on 15 January in Leap Years. Makar Sankranti's date and time is analogous to Sidereal time of Zodiac sign of Capricorn (when sun enters).
The year is 365.24 days long and the time difference between the two consecutive instances of Makar Sankranti (Sidereal time of Zodiac sign of Capricorn) is almost the same as the year. We only have 365 days in a year so in the time of 4 years Calendar lags by 1 day so we need to adjust it by leap day, 29 February. But Makar Sankranti falls before leap day correction is made therefore on every 4th year it falls on 15 January. Sidereal time of sign of Capricorn also shifts by a day due to leap year. Similarly, the time of Equinoxes also shifts by a day in each 4 years window. For example, Equinox of September does not fall on the same date each year nor does the winter solstice. Any event related to one revolution of the earth around the sun will have this date shift within 4 years cycle. Similar changes can be seen in the exact time of Solstices and equinoxes. See the table, how the time of the equinox and a Solstice increases and decreases in a cycle of 4 years. This variation of date has been wrongly attributed to aberrations in Hindu Calandar.
We can see the time difference between two consecutive winter Solstices is about 5 hours 50 minutes, with respect to winter Solistice time, and the time difference between two consecutive Mankar Sankranti is about 6 hours and 10 minutes. This happens due to the precession of the earth and the Sidereal Zodiac keeps shifting with respect to the Calendar by about 1 day in 72 years. Due to this Makar Sankranti's time is continuously but very slowly moving away from Winter Solstice(Uttrayana). However, both Winter Solstice (Uttrayana) and Makar Sankranti fell on the same day about 1700 years ago. This could be the reason for widely spread confusion and belief that these two are the same events.
Towards the end of the 21st Century, there will be more occurrences of Makar Sankranti on 15 January in a 4-year cycle. And Makar Sankranti (the Sidereal time of the Zodiac sign of Capricorn) will be on 16 January for the first in the year 2102 as 2100 will not be a leap year.
Every year Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the month of January. This festival is dedicated to the Hindu religious 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.
Makara Sankranti is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly, people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. 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, in Maharashtra the festival is celebrated by flying kites.
Makara 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 Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Makara Sankranti in Karnataka and Maharashtra, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Magh Bihu in Assam, Magha Mela in parts of central and north India, as Makar Sankranti in the west, Maghara Valaku in Kerala, and by other names.
Makara or Makar Sankranti is celebrated in many parts of the Indian subcontinent with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different Indian states and South Asian countries:
In most regions of India, Sankranti festivities last for two to four days of which each day is celebrated with distinct names and rituals.
It is celebrated differently across the Indian subcontinent. Many people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar and pray to the Sun God (Surya). It is celebrated with pomp in southern parts of India as Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka (Pongal in Tamil Nadu), and in Punjab as Maghi.
Many melas or fairs are held on Makar Sankranti the most famous being the Kumbha Mela, held every 12 years at one of four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Prayagraj), Ujjain and Nashik. The Magha Mela (or mini-Kumbh Mela held annually at Prayag) and the Gangasagar Mela (held at the head of the Ganges River, where it flows into the Bay of Bengal). Makar Mela in Odisha. Tusu Mela also called as Tusu Porab is celebrated in many parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal. Poush Mela, held traditionally on the 7th day of Poush,at Shantiniketan, in West Bengal,is unrelated to this festival. Mela Maghi is held in memory of the forty Sikh martyrs (Chalis Mukte) who gave their lives to protect Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of Sikhism, every year at Muktsar Sahib in Punjab. Before this tradition, the festival was observed and mentioned by Guru Amar Das, the third Guru of Sikhism.
The festival Sankranti (సంక్రాంతి) is celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana:
Magh Bihu (মাঘ বিহু) (also called Bhogali Bihu (ভোগালী বিহু) (Bihu of eating foods and enjoyment) or Maghar Domahi (মাঘৰ দোমাহী) is a harvest festival celebrated in Assam, India, which marks the end of harvesting season in the month of Maagha (January–February). It is the Assam celebration of Makar Sankranti, with feasting lasting for a week.
The festival is marked by feasts and bonfires. Young people erect makeshift huts, known as Meji and Bhelaghar, from bamboo, leaves and thatch, and in Bhelaghar they eat the food prepared for the feast, and then burn the huts the next morning. The celebrations also feature traditional Assamese games such as tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting. Magh Bihu celebrations start on the last day of the previous month, the month of "Pooh", usually the 29th of Pooh and usually 14 January, and is the only day of Magh Bihu in modern times (earlier, the festival would last for the whole month of Magh, and so the name Magh Bihu). The night before is "Uruka" (28th of Pooh), when people gather around a bonfire, cook dinner, and make merry.
During Magh Bihu people of Assam make cakes of rice with various names such as Shunga Pitha, Til Pitha etc. and some other sweets of coconut called Laru or Laskara.
Known as Sankrant in Goa and like in the rest of the country, people distribute sweets in the form of granules of sugar-coated till pulses among family members and friends. Newly married women offer five sunghat or small clay pots with black beaded threads tied around them, to the deity. These pots are filled with newly harvested food grains and are offered with betel leaves and areca nut. Its observance takes place on a rather subdued note, unlike major festivals of the region like Ganesh chaturthi.
Uttarayan, as Makar Sankranti is called in Gujarati, is a major festival in the state of Gujarat which lasts for two days.
Gujarati people keenly await this festival to fly kites, called 'patang'. Kites for Uttarayan are made of special light-weight paper and bamboo and are mostly rhombus shaped with central spine and a single bow. The string often contains abrasives to cut down other people's kites.
In Gujarat, from December through to Makar Sankranti, people start enjoying Uttarayan. Undhiyu (spicy, baked mix of winter vegetables) and chikkis (made from til (sesame seeds), peanuts and jaggery) are the special festival recipes savoured on this day. The Hindu Sindhi community in western regions of India, that is also found in southeastern parts of Pakistan, celebrate Makar Sankranti as Tirmoori. On this day, parents sending sweet dishes to their daughters.
"Sakraant" in Haryana and Delhi rural areas, is celebrated with traditional Hindu rituals of North India similar to Western UP and border areas of Rajasthan and Punjab. This includes ritual purification by taking the holy dip in rivers, especially in Yamuna, or at sacred ponds such as ancient sarovars Kurukshetra and at local tirtha ponds associated with the ancestral guardian/founder deity of the village called Jathera or Dhok (dahak in Sanskrit or fire) in villages to wash away sins. People prepare kheer, churma, halva with desi ghee and distribute til-gud (sesame and jaggery) laddoos or chikkis. Brothers of married woman visits her home with a gift pack, called "Sindhara" or "Sidha", of wood and warm clothing for her and her husband's family. Women give gift to their in-laws called "Manana". Women congregate in the nearby havelis to sing Haryani folk songs and exchange gifts.
In Jammu, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as 'Uttrain' (derived from Sanskrit: Uttarayana). Alternatively, terms 'Attrain' or 'Attrani' have also been used to describe this festival. A day before Lohri is celebrated by Dogras to commemorate end of Poh (Pausha) month. It is also beginning the Magha month as per Hindu Solar Calendar, hence also known as 'Maghi Sangrand' (Sankranti of Magh month).
Among Dogras, there is a tradition of 'Mansana' (charity) of Khichdi of Maah Dal. Khichdi of Maah di Dal is also prepared on this day and that is why this day is also referred to as 'Khichdi wala Parva'. There is also a tradition of sending Khichdi & other food items to house of married daughters. Fairs are organised on holy places and pligrimages on this day. Dhagwal in Hiranagar tehsil is known for Fair on Makar Sankranti and Janamashtami.
People of Jammu also take holy bath in Devika river and pilgrimages like Uttar Behni and Purmandal on this occasion. This day is also celebrated as birth anniversary of Baba Ambo ji, a local deity of Jammu region.
This is the Suggi (ಸುಗ್ಗಿ) or harvest festival for farmers of Karnataka. On this auspicious day, girls wear new clothes to visit near and dear ones with a Sankranti offering in a plate and exchange the same with other families. This ritual is called "Ellu Birodhu." Here the plate would normally contain "Ellu" (white sesame seeds) mixed with fried groundnuts, neatly cut dry coconut and fine cut bella (jaggery). The mixture is called "Ellu-Bella" (ಎಳ್ಳು ಬೆಲ್ಲ). The plate contains shaped sugar candy moulds (Sakkare Acchu, ಸಕ್ಕರೆ ಅಚ್ಚು) with a piece of sugarcane. There is a saying in Kannada "ellu bella thindu olle maathadi" that translates to 'eat the mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good.' This festival signifies the harvest of the season, since sugarcane is predominant in these parts. Ellu Bella, Ellu Unde, bananas, sugarcane, red berries, haldi and kumkum and small gift items useful in everyday lives are often exchanged among women in Karnataka. During the occasion, newly married women give away bananas for five years to married women from the first year of her marriage. Kite flying, drawing rangolis, giving away of red berries known as Yalchi kai are some of the intrinsic parts of the festival. Another vital ritual in rural Karnataka is the display of decorated cows and bulls and their procession is done and they are also made to cross a fire and this custom is known as "Kichchu Haayisuvudu".
In Maharashtra on Makar Sankranti day people exchange multicoloured halwa (sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and til-gul laadoo (sweetmeats made from sesame seeds and jaggery). Gulachi poli/puran poli(flat bread stuffed with soft/shredded jaggery mixed with toasted, ground til [white sesame seeds]) and some gram flour, which has been toasted to golden in pure ghee, are offered for lunch. While exchanging til-gul as tokens of goodwill people greet each other.
Married women invite friends/family members and celebrate Haldi-Kunku. Guests are given til-gul and some small gift, as a part of the ritual. Women make it a point to wear black clothes. As Sakranti falls in the winter months of the region, wearing black adds to the body warmth. This is an essential reason behind wearing black, which is otherwise barred on festival days. As per another legend, Lord Surya forgave his son Shani and his son visited him on Sankranti. And that's why people distribute everyone sweets and urge them to let go of any negative or angry feelings. While distributing sweets famous line "til gul ghya aani god god bola" (which means eat this sesame and jaggery and speak sweet words) is used in Maharashtra.
The festival is known as Makara Sankranti in Odisha where people prepare makara chaula (Odia: ମକର ଚାଉଳ): uncooked newly harvested rice, banana, coconut, jaggery, sesame, rasagola, Khai/Liaa and chhena puddings for naivedya to gods and goddesses. The withdrawing winter entails a change in food habits and intake of nourishing and rich food. Therefore, this festival holds traditional cultural significance. It is astronomically important for devotees who worship the sun god at the great Konark temple with fervour and enthusiasm as the sun starts its annual swing northwards. According to various Indian calendars, the Sun's movement changes and the days from this day onwards become lengthier and warmer and so the Sun-God is worshiped on this day as a great benefactor. Many individuals at the start of the day perform a ritual bath while fasting. Makara Mela (Fun fair) is observed at Dhabaleswar in Cuttack, Hatakeshwar at Atri in Khordha, Makara Muni temple in Balasore and near deities in each district of Odisha. In Puri special rituals are carried out at the temple of Lord Jagannath. In Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Kalahandi, Koraput and Sundargarh where the tribal population is greater, the festival is celebrated with great joy. They celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm, singing, dancing and generally having an enjoyable time. This Makara Sankranti celebration is next to the Odia traditional new year Maha Vishuva Sankranti which falls in mid April. Tribal groups celebrate with traditional dancing, eating their particular dishes sitting together, and by lighting bonfires.
In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Maghi which is a religious and cultural festival. Bathing in a river in the early hours on Maghi is important. Hindus light lamps with sesame oil as this is supposed to give prosperity and drive away all sins. A major mela is held at Sri Muktsar Sahib on Maghi which commemorates a historical event in Sikh history.
Culturally, people dance their famous "bhangra". They then sit down and eat the sumptuous food that is specially prepared for the occasion. It is traditional to eat "kheer", rice cooked in milk and sugarcane juice. It is also traditional to consume khichdi and jaggery. December and January are the coldest months of the year in the Punjab. Maghi represents the change of the season to warmer temperatures and increase in daylight. Maghi fairs are held in many places.
"Makar Sankrati" or "Sakraat" in the Rajasthani language is one of the major festivals in the state of Rajasthan. The day is celebrated with special Rajasthani delicacies and sweets such as pheeni (either with sweet milk or sugar syrup dipped), til-paati, gajak, kheer, ghevar, pakodi, puwa, and til-laddoo.
Specially, the women of this region observe a ritual in which they give any type of object (related to household, make-up or food) to 13 married women. The first Sankranti experienced by a married woman is of significance as she is invited by her parents and brothers to their houses with her husband for a big feast. People invite friends and relatives (specially their sisters and daughters) to their home for special festival meals (called as "Sankrant Bhoj"). People give out many kind of small gifts such as til-gud (jaggery), fruits, dry khichadi, etc. to Brahmins or the needy ones.
Kite flying is traditionally observed as a part of this festival. On this occasion the sky in Jaipur and Hadoti regions is filled with kites, and youngsters engage in contests trying to cut each other's strings.
It is a four-day festival in Tamil Nadu:
The festival is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month Margazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai.
The first day of festival is Bhogi (போகி). It is celebrated on the last day of Margazhi by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials, by setting them on fire, marking the end of the old and the emergence of the new. In villages there will be a simple ceremony of "Kappu Kattu" (kappu means secure). The 'neem' leaves are kept along the walls and roof of the houses. This is to eliminate evil forces.
The second day of festival is Thai Pongal or simply Pongal. It is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots, which are later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout "பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் (Ponggalo Ponggal)!" and blow the sangu (a conch), a custom practised to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings. Then, new boiled rice is offered to the Sun god during sunrise, as a prayer which symbolises thanks to the sun for providing prosperity. It is later served to the people in the house for the ceremony. People prepare savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam and visit each other and exchange greetings.
The third day of festival is Maattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்). It is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmers in agriculture. On this day the cattle are decorated with paint, flowers and bells. They are allowed to roam free and fed sweet rice and sugar cane. Some people decorate the horns with gold or other metallic covers. In some places, Jallikattu, or taming the wild bull contest, is the main event of this day and this is mostly seen in the villages.
The fourth day of the festival is Kaanum Pongal (காணும் பொங்கல்: the word kaanum means "to view"). During this day people visit their relatives, friends to enjoy the festive season. It is a day to thank relatives and friends for their support in the harvest. It started as a farmers festival, called as Uzhavar Thirunaal in Tamil. Kolam (கோலம்) decorations are made in front of the house during Thai Pongal festival.
The festival is known as Kicheri in Uttar Pradesh and involves ritual bathing. Over two million people gather at their respective sacred places for this holy bathing such as Allahabad and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar in Uttarakhand.
Makar Sankranti is a popular festival in Uttarakhand. It known by various names in the different parts of the state such as Uttarayani, Khichri Sangrand, Pusyodia, Ghughutia, Ghughuti Tyar, Kale Kauva, Makrain, Makraini, Gholda, Gwalda and Chunyatyar.
In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Makar Sankranti (also called as Ghughuti (घुघुति) or Ghughuti Tyar or Ghughutia or Kale Kauva or Uttarayani) is celebrated with great gusto. The famous Uttarayani mela (fair) is held in Bageshwar town each year in the month of January on the occasion of Makar Sankrati. According to the Almora Gazetteer, even in the early twentieth century, the annual Uttarayani mela at Bageshwar was visited by approximately 15,000 people and was the largest fair of Kumaon division. The religious ritual of the Uttarayani mela consists of bathing before daybreak at the confluence of Saryu and Gomati followed by an offering of water to Lord Shiva inside the Bagnath Temple. Those who are more religiously disposed, continue this practice for three days in succession, which is known as "Trimaghi". On this day, people also give 'khichdi' (a dish made by mixing pulses and rice) in charity, take ceremonial dips in holy rivers, participate in Uttarayani fairs and offer deep fried sweetmeats consisting of flour and jaggery to crows and other birds as a way to pay homage to the departed souls of their ancestors.
In West Bengal, Sankranti, also known as Poush Sankranti named after the Bengali month in which it falls (last date of that month), is celebrated as a harvest festival Poush Parbon (Bengali: পৌষ পার্বণ). (It falls on 14 January on the Western calendar.) The freshly harvested paddy and the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur (Bengali: খেজুরের গুড়)and Patali (Bengali: পাটালি ) is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and 'khejurer gur' (date palm jaggery) and known as 'Pitha' (Bengali: পিঠে). All sections of society participate in a three-day festival that begins on the day before Sankranti and ends on the day after. The Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped on the day of Sankranti.
In the Himalayan regions of Darjeeling, the festival is as known as Magey Sakrati. It is distinctly associated with the worship of Lord Shiva. Traditionally, people bathe at sunrise and then commence their pooja. Elsewhere, many people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar (the point where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal). Ganga Sagar falls in West Bengal.
Maghe Sankranti (Nepali:माघे सङ्क्रान्ति, Mathili:माघि, Nepal Bhasa:घ्यःचाकु संल्हु) is a Nepalese festival observed on the first of Magha in the Vikram Sambat (B.S) calendar (about 14 January). Tharu people celebrate this particular day as new year. It is also regarded as the major government declared annual festival of the Magar community.
Observant Hindus take ritual baths during this festival. These include Sankhamul on the Bagmati near Patan; In the Gandaki/Narayani river basin at Triveni, Devghat near Chitwan Valley and Ridi on the Kaligandaki; and in the Koshi River basin at Dolalghat on the Sun Koshi. Festive foods like laddoo, ghee and sweet potatoes are distributed. The mother of each household wishes good health to all family members.
On this festive day, Sindhi parents send ladoos and chiki (Laaee) made of sesame seeds to their married daughters. The Sindhi community in India too celebrate Makar Sankranti as Tirmoori which involves parents sending sweet dishes to their daughters.
On this day, the Tamil farmers & the Tamil People honour the Sun God Suriya Narayanan. This happens when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn (Makara). The Thai Pongal festival is celebrated in mid-January, or the Tamil month of Thai, to coincide with the rice harvest.
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