Why do we celebrate Makar Sankranti
Makar Sankranti is a Hindu harvest festival which marks the beginning of the harvest season and happiness of getting new crops to farmers. It is celebrated on the January 14 or 15 of each year, the only festival which is celebrated according to the solar calendar. It also has an astrological significance as Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi (Capricorn), this movement of Sun is called Sankranti. Sankranti literally means “movement.” The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring and termination of winter season, and beginning of warmer and longer days. It is celebrated with distinct names and rituals in different parts of the country. In Tamil Nadu, it is known as Pongal; in Punjab as Lohri; in the eastern part of U.P. and the western part of Bihar as Khichadi. Kite flying is an inevitable part of the festival in many parts of India.
How do we celebrate Makar Sankranti
As per Hindu Mythology, Makar Sankranti is a big bathing day. Million of people take bath before sunrise in the sacred rivers at the sacred places such as Allahabad, Varanasi, and Haridwar to reap the spiritual, religious, and astrological benefits of the occasion.
If you cannot take bath at the sacred places, you have to bath at home at morning while fasting; wear new clothes, offer flower and water to Lord Sun at sunrise, pray with folded hands by chanting Gayatri Mantra. Pray for God’s blessings and prosperity in life.
Prepare laddoos. Til (Sesame Seed) laddoo and Gur (Jaggery) laddoo are famous sweets to eat and distribute to your friends & relatives. Til is considered to have the very superior Satvik element, and Gur is the most natural form of sweetness. The laddoo represent the removal of the bitterness within you and start a fresh. Makara Sankranti is considered as an auspicious ocassion to perform any sacred ritual.
Also remember your ancestors and offer them water with your faith and devotion. Pray that may your forefathers, wherever they are, held their head high by your deeds.
On this day, people take the lunch of Khichadi to signify simplicity in the life.
Give some Daan (charity/donation) to someone who truly deserves.
The most famous Kumbha Mela which is held every 12 years at one of four holy locations i.e Haridwar, Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik. The Magha Mela also known as mini-Kumbh Mela held annually at Allahabad. Makara Mela in Odisha. Tusu Mela in many parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal.
It is said that Lord Sun visited the son Lord Shani (Saturn) on this day to start a friendly relationship with him. Sun and Saturn do not go along well astrologically, despite of this conflicting relation, Sun visited him to end the bitterness.
According to mythology, Lord Vishnu ended the violence of demons by killing them and burrying their heads under the Mandar Parvat.
The importance of this day has been signified in the ancient epics like Mahabharata also. It is also mentioned in the epics, that wounded Great Warrior Bhishm, while on the death bed in the war, also waited for this day to release his soul from the body.
In another reference, Maharaj Bhagirath liberated the 60,000 sons of Maharaj Sagar on this day by bringing down the river Ganga on earth. That is why people dip in the sacred river to liberate themselves.
It is a day of Lord Sun as the glorious Sun begins its ascendancy and travel to the Northern Hemisphere. Worshiping him and chanting the Surya mantra provide great benefit to the devotees. Sun stands is the manifest God, who symbolizes the glorious divinity blessing everyone tirelessly. Sun is the one who rotates the Wheel of Time.
That is why Makar Sankranti also reminds us that life is all about movement. Everybody and everything has to move on to churn up life. Still is not capable of life, however, one should taste the stillness of his life not to get lost in the movement. We have to move gently in a beautiful manner like changing seasons. From Sun to Moon to all the heavenly bodies are moving is this way to support the concept of life on the earth.
That is also why it is related to the harvesting, as we have harvested the previous year’s crop, now start fresh, start new. Make a fresh attempt in whatever you do in your lives.
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