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Makar Sankranti 2024: An Overview of the Harvest Festival

Makar Sankranti’s Stories

Makar Sankranti is a special day in the Hindu calendar with religious importance. According to Hindu stories, the warrior Bhishma in the Mahabharata battle decided to wait until Uttarayan, a fortunate time. That's why we celebrate Makar Sankranti today.

In religious writings, it's believed that those who pass away during this time can achieve Moksha or liberation, emphasizing the spiritual significance of Makar Sankranti.

From a different perspective, it also emphasizes the unique connection fathers and sons have.

Makar Sankranti has various stories, but one thing is clear: this festival greatly contributes to shaping India's rich culture and tradition.

Makar Sankranti

Understanding the Makar Sankranti Festival

In Hinduism, the Sun God, Surya, is seen as a powerful deity symbolizing energy, light, and life. During Makar Sankranti, there's a belief that divine forces come down to Earth. It is believed to bring blessings and spread prosperity and good fortune to everyone.

A significant part of Makar Sankranti involves people taking a special dip in holy rivers like the Ganges, Yamuna, and Godavari. This act is a way to cleanse sins, seek divine blessings, and symbolizes purifying the mind and body. Doing so lets go of negativity, and welcoming new beginnings and personal growth.

In Hindu belief, those who pass away during the special time of Uttarayan are believed to attain salvation from the cycle of life and death. Bhishma Pitamah, for instance, intentionally delayed his death after being seriously hurt in the Kurukshetra battle. He chose to coincide it with the Uttarayan period.

Makar Sankranti is also connected to the birth of the deity 'Narashansa'. Narashansa is considered the first teacher of righteousness in Kaliyuga and a forerunner to Kalki, the final avatar of Lord Vishnu. Additionally, the festival signifies the victory of good over evil. It celebrates the time when Lord Vishnu defeated the demon Sankarasura.

How Is Makar Sankranti Celebrated

Makar Sankranti is a festival deeply tied to ancient traditions and stories. In Hindu beliefs, the Sun God, Surya, is a powerful deity representing energy and light. People think that on this day, divine forces come to Earth to bring blessings and good fortune.

During Makar Sankranti, many people take a special dip in holy rivers like the Ganges, Yamuna, and Godavari. This act is like a spiritual bath. It cleanses away sins and negative feelings, making space for new beginnings and personal growth.

Flying kites is a big part of the celebration in various Indian states. The colorful kites in the sky are believed to chase away evil spirits and bring happiness. It's also a way of saying thanks to the Sun God for giving us life.

Makar Sankranti is also known for delicious traditional sweets made with sesame seeds, jaggery, and grains. These treats are like gifts to the Sun God. One popular sweet, Tilgul, is shared among friends and family with the saying, "Tilgul ghya, god god bola". It emphasizes the importance of sharing joy and sweetness in life.

Significance of Makar Sinkranti

Makar Sankranti is a special festival with both religious and seasonal importance. In the olden days, people celebrated the Sun's shift and longer days as a signal of changing from harsh to milder weather. It brought hope and positivity.

For farming communities, Makar Sankranti is a time of happiness and celebration. It marks the moment when they gather the fruits of their hard work during the harvest season.

There's also a story about Makar Sankranti. In some places, it's believed that a deity named Sankranti defeated a demon called Sankarasur. The following day, the same deity conquered another demon, Kinkarasur, giving the day an additional name, Kinkrant.

Different Traditions of Makar Sankrati

1. Goa

In Goa, during Makar Sankranti, women participate in special traditions like the 12-day haldi-kumkum festival. They pray to Goddess Lakshmi Maa, exchange flowers, and share gifts. Ritual offerings include five leaf plates with rice, Bengal gram, jaggery, and coconut. These serve specific purposes and ward off evil spirits. The festival concludes with Ratha Saptami, featuring a chariot procession for the temple deity. People exchange sugar-coated til sweets and wish each other, 'Til gull gheiat, godd uloiat'. It means, 'Eat sesame sweets and jaggery, and sweeten your talk.'

2. Karnataka

In Karnataka, people joyfully celebrate Makar Sankranti. They clean their homes, put up decorations with mango leaves and rangolis, and wear new clothes. Everyone shares ellu-bella sweets, fried groundnuts, coconut, sugarcane, and bananas, while offering good wishes. Kannadigas also have a tradition similar to their Marathi neighbors, saying, ‘Eat the sesame-jaggery sweet and speak sweet words.’ Newlywed women follow a five-year custom of giving away bananas, increasing the number each year. Adding a playful touch, people dress up cows and bulls and enjoy flying kites as part of the festivities.

3. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

Makar Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana spans four lively days. People wear new clothes, thank the Sun, and cook feasts. They draw pretty designs in front of their homes. They used to have sports like cockfights and bullfights, which are now banned. Each day has a special theme: burning old stuff, having a big festival, honoring cows, and thanking nature. The celebration ends with everyone flying kites together.

4. Rajasthan

During Makar Sankranti in Rajasthan, people follow various traditions. Some take dips in holy rivers, and women exchange gifts like food or makeup. Newlyweds are invited by the bride's parents for a feast called Sankrant Bhoj. Kite-flying is a big deal, with families and friends gathering on rooftops to fly colorful kites. In cities like Jaipur and Jodhpur, there are kite war competitions where participants try to cut each other's kite strings. Additionally, illuminated kites called 'tukals' light up the night sky during this lively celebration.

Also Read: Pongal 2024

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