Significance of Makar Sankranti ...
Makar Sankranti is celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14th January every year. This festival one of the major harvest festival which is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. This festival is a traditional and oldest event that happens on an equinox that is the length of day and night remains equally long.
Why is Makar Sankranti celebrated?
The way Makar Sankranti is celebrated in every state of India with faith and joy, it can be guessed that the festival has some religious beliefs. This festival is mentioned in many of our religious text which enlightens about the festival’s religious significance. The religious scripture, “Gita” which is known as the voice of Lord Krishna, illustrates that six months of Uttarayan is the day time of deity. And, the 6 months of Dakhshinayan is the night for Gods. It is believed that person who scarifies his body(dies) in Uttarayan get a position in ‘Krishna Lok’. That person gets liberation, whereas, the one who dies in Dakhshinayan, has to be reborn.
In the era of Mahabharata, Bhishma Pithama had a blessing of wish death. Although lying on the bed of arrows, he did not sacrifice his life in the Dakhsinayan and waited for the Sun to go in Uttarayan. It is believed that on the day of Makar Sankranti when the sun entered in the Uttarayan, Bhishma Pithama, discarded his body.
In the case of Makar Sankranti, there is one more religious story which states that Yashoda Mata kept fast to have Lord Krishna as her son. The story of Gangawatran is also linked with Makar Sankranti. It is said that on the day of Makar Sankranti, Ganga followed Bhagirath Muni and met the ocean. The conjunction of Ganga and ocean is the reason behind the crowd of devotees taking bath in Ganga Sagar on Makar Sankranti.
Capricorn is a sign of Saturn. On the day of Makar Sankranti, the sun enters into the sign of Saturn.Sun God is the father of Saturn. Father goes to meet his son in his home. Saturn and Sun, both are might planets, who's auspicious blessings can make humans achieve great success. Hence, on the holy festival of Makar Sankranti people delight sun and Saturn.
Makar Sankranti is regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase or the holy phase of transition. It also marks the end of an inauspicious phase which begins around mid-December. Further, it is also believed that any sacred ritual can be performed from this day onwards. The night is considered as the symbol of sin, false and wrong doings, whereas, the day is regarded as the symbol of truth, virtue, and religion. So, when it is the day for Gods, all work of virtue are performed. The fruit of work is also good. On the day of Makar Sankranti when the sun enters the Uttarayan, days become long and night becomes shorter. From this day the doors of Heaven are opened, so people celebrate the auspicious occasion.
From the day of Makar Sankranti, the sun enters in Uttarayan resulting in long days. Married women pray to Sun God for long life of their husbands and give gifts to their elders, in return take blessing that the way days are getting longer, similarly, the life of their husbands also keep increasing.
Sankranti is celebrated all over India but is known by different names. In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti is known as Uttarayan whereas in Tamil Nadu it is known as Pongal, Uzhavar Thirunal. In Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab it is named as Maghi. Before the arrival of this festival, people start preparing sweets and lip-smacking dishes to celebrate a good harvest period. Women offer the Shreemangalchandika prapatti, and even offer it after the sunset on the day of Sankranti. This auspicious day holds a significance, Mata Mahishasurmardini, with the purpose of destroying Mahishasur, first set foot on earth, in the Kataraaj ashram of Rishi Kardam and Devahuti.
As the festival is celebrated in winters, people start preparing food which can give them give them energy and also keep their body warm. Tilguls – Laddu of Til (Sesame) is made up of Jaggery and devotees also pay respect to Goddess Saraswati. People greet each other Happy Sankranti by saying Tilgul Ghya Aani God God Bola. On this day there are several Melas or fairs which are been held and one of the most famous amongst all melas is Kumbh Mela. It is been held every 12 years at one of four holy locations namely Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain and Nashik. The Magh Mela which is the mini mela is held annually at Prayag, the Gangasagar Mela held at the Ganges River, Tusu Mela in parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal and many more such fairs are been held on this auspicious day.
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.