These are the days of winter and winter is the season of festivals. One of the main festival in winter is Makar Sankranti which is celebrated in the second week of January.This year it will be on 15th of January 2011.
Why it celebrated:
This is one of the most important festival of Hindu. Makar Sankranti is the day the sun enters the Tropic of Capricorn. Makar means Capricorn and Sankrant stands for transition.It marks the movement of the Sun into the Northern Hemisphere or the Makara Rashi. This period is referred to as Uttarayan as well. One the other hand, this is also a harvest festival and is celebrated as the thanks giving to the god and nature for the good harvest.
How it is celebrated:
Makar Sankranti is celebrated almost every state of India but with their different names.
- In West Bengal, Sankranti is known as Pous Parbon – a harvest festival. Every year, a very big mela (fair) is held at Ganga Sagar which a large number of pilgrims from all over the country attend.
- In Uttar pradesh, it is celebrated as Khichiri. People go to their terrace and fly kites along with family members and friends.
- In Kerela,It is celebrated at Sabarimala. The forty days of spiritual discipline undertaken by devotees of Ayappa comes to an end on this day with a big celebration at Sabarimala.
- In Punjab,it is celebrated as the Lohri which is one of the important harvest festival of Punjab.
- In Tamil nadu,it is celebrated as Pongal. People exchange their sweets and products made up of tills.
- In Maharastra, it is celebrated as married women are invited home for haldi-kumkum. The woman of the house gives them a gift of any new utensil which she has purchased.
- In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Uttarayan. People worship the God Sun and exchange the sweets and gifts.
Traditional way of celebration:
I usually heard from my mother and grand mother that on this day, people take a dip in the holy Ganga and offer water to the Surya (Sun God). By doing this, it is said that the sins will be cleansed. Taking a dip at Prayag is considered to be extremely good on this day.It is also believed that a person who dies during this auspicious period of Uttarayana is lucky as he goes to heaven. A person who dies during this period is said to become free from the cycle of rebirth.
So how will you celebrating Makar Sankrant this year?