India is the land of festivals. One such festival is Makar Sankranti, which marks the beginning of Uttrayan. Thanks to the diversified culture in our country, we are blessed with many events and festivals happening throughout the year. Though all the states in India have different ways to celebrate this day, what unites them is the harvest season.
Makar Sankranti falls on January 14th on this year. The tithi that it is celebrated on is Magh Krishna Paksha Dwitiya Tithi.
It is often considered as the first festival of the year because of how early it falls in January, which doubles up the excitement. This day, Surya Deva or the God of Sun is worshipped. Devotees offer their prayers and gratitude to Surya Deva. They also worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu for prosperity in their lives and a happy beginning for the New Year.
Auspicious time: Though Sankranti is celebrated throughout the day, there is a particular time set for worshipping the deities. It starts at 8:30 am and ends at 5:40 pm. It is believed that if a devotee worships between these times, according to the auspicious timing, he or she can reap the greatest benefits.
Why is Makar Sankranti significant?
This day marks the beginning of first harvest of the crop. Henceforth, the crop that had been growing all this while can be harvested and ready to be sold. Thus, it is a joyous time as all the hard work pays off. People celebrate Sankranti happily.
It is a great day to do any kind of charity for the needy. People make food and distribute it amongst the ones in need. This brings a lot of peace to the ones who do such deeds as well as respite for the poor people. This makes it an ideal time to participate in such activities.
How is it celebrated?
Makar Sankranti is celebrated differently in different parts of the country. It is rejoiced in farmer-households as their crops are ready to harvest.
One common bond between all states is sweet balls made of sesame seeds or til-ke-laddu which are enjoyable and great in taste. Just like how the seeds are bound together through the jaggery, people are bound together with this festival as neighbours and relatives come together to enjoy this time.
There is another tradition to fly kites with your loved ones. The sky becomes beautiful with different colours. It is a great sight for both the one flying kites and the one seeing them.
People tend to flood places where sacred rivers run in order to find some respite and get rid of their sins. It is believed that if one dips in sacred rivers during Sankranti, they will attain salvation.
In Punjab and Haryana, a day before Makar Sankranti, Lohri is celebrated. It is a big event as people come together around the evening and light up bonfire. They pray to the Gods and express their gratitude and enjoy the evening with near and dear. They throw puffed rice and popcorn in the huge bonfire and pray for happiness and prosperity for all.
In Bengal, huge fairs are put up in and near Gangasagar every year and people dip in the water, purifying their body and soul.
In Tamil Nadu, Pongal is celebrated for four days starting on Makar Sankranti.
In Rajasthan and Gujarat, Uttrayan is celebrated and kite festival is at boom. They also donate and distribute products and other items throughout their neighbourhood.
In Maharashtra, all married ladies donate oil, salt, cotton and clothes to other married ladies during their first Sankranti.
In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, ‘Khichdi’ is the Festival of Donation where people donate lentils as well as rice, gold, woollen garments, etc, to show their gratitude.
This is how Makar Sankranti is celebrated throughout India. How are you planning to celebrate it? Bring out the til laddus and celebrate with your loved ones!
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By Samvidha Daiya