Monday, January 14, 2013

Indian Festival - Makar Shankranthi


Sankranti is the Sanskrit word in Hindu Astrology which refers to the transmigration of the Sun from one Rāshi (sign of the zodiac) to another.
[Src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makar_Sankranti ]

When is it celebrated?
Being a solar event, Sankranti comes every year on January 14. Makar Sankranti is basically a celebration of a cosmic event and human life.
Indians give importance to the sun as a god of intelligence and wisdom. Derived from ancient Indian language, the word ‘Sankranti’ means the transmigration of the Sun from one Rashi (Zodiac) to another, namely from Dhanu Rashi (Sagittarius) to Makar Rashi (Capricorn). This special day in mid-January marks the moment when the God Sun (Surya) begins its ascendancy and enters into the northern hemisphere. Regarded as the beginning of the harvesting season, this festival has various names all over the country, such as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bhogali Bihu in Assam, Maghi in Haryana, Shishur Saenkraat in the Kashmir Valley and Pithey in Benga
[Src: http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/cultures/news-why-fly-kites-makar-sankranti-and-take-dip-sangam ]

Why is it celebrated?
This festival is celebrated for innumerable reasons depending on various climate, agricultural environment, cultural background and location.
For details on why it is celebrated, refer @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makar_Sankranti

How is it celebrated?
For details refer
@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makar_Sankranti
@ http://www.vmission.org.in/hinduism/festivals/sankranti/

Points to Note
* One major aspect of this festival is a must-take bath in the holy Triveni Sangam in the city of Prayag in Allahabad. Famous as the king of all holy places, this Sangam is the point of confluence of three rivers: the Ganges, the Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati. All the gods are said to visit this place on this day to take a dip. Thus, people believe that taking a bath or dip in this sacred Sangam will not only wash away all their sins but also clear the way to heaven
* Astrological Significance - Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti is transition. There is a sankranti every month when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next. There are twelve signs of the zodiac, and thus there are twelve sankranti's as well. Each of these sankranti's has its own relative importance but two of these are more important - the Mesh (Aries) Sankranti and the most important, the Makar (Capricorn) Sankranti. Transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn, during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is known as Makar Sankranti. From this day begins the six-month long Uttarayana, considered very auspicious for attaining higher worlds hereafter. While the traditional Indian Calendar is basically based on lunar positions, but sankranti is a solar event, so while dates of all festivals keep changing, the english calendar date of Makar Sankranti is always same, 14th January. Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha. There is another significance of this day, after this day the days start becoming longer & warmer, and thus the chill of winter in on decline. [Src: http://www.vmission.org.in/hinduism/festivals/sankranti/ ]

Additional Readings
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makar_Sankranti
http://orissa.gov.in/portal/LIWPL/event_archive/Events_Archives/140Makar_Sankranti.pdf
http://www.hindujagruti.org/hinduism/festivals/makar-sankranti/
http://www.vmission.org/hinduism/festivals/sankranti/
http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/cultures/news-why-fly-kites-makar-sankranti-and-take-dip-sangam#l746szhOcJKHvbfh.99
http://www.pongalfestival.org/makar-sankranti.html

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