Description: This article provides information about the Hindu festival Makar Sankrāntī.
Almost all Hindu festivals are dependent on the position of the moon; however, Makar Sankranti is based on the position of the sun. The sun enters the zodiac sign of Makar (Capricorn) on the day of Makar Sankranti. All the tithis (dates) of Hindu Dharma’s festivals vary every year; however, Makar Sankranti falls mostly on 14 January (occasionally on 13th or 15th January). Every eighty years, the difference created due to the revolution of the earth around the sun is made up by pushing ahead Makar Sankranti by a day.
Since time immemorial, demons have been troubling humans as well as Deities. When such situations arise, God incarnates and slays the demons. It is said that Shri Sankranti, a Deity, slayed a demon, Sankrasur, on this day.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated to let go of our differences with each other and increase love (prēmbhāv) in us. Spiritually, this day is very conducive for sādhanā and to imbibe the Chaitanya in the environment.
What is Makar Sankranti and how is it celebrated?
Different regions in Bharat (India) celebrate Makar Sankranti in different ways. The following are some examples of the various rituals that are performed on this day.
- The period from sunrise to sunset is meritorious. A Holy bath at any Holy place on the banks of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Krushna, Godavari, etc., on this day, yields great merits.
- The period from Makar Sankranti (14 January in 2014) to Rathsaptami ( 6 February in 2014) is called a Transition period (Parvakāl or sandhikāl). Any offerings / donations (dān) and meritorious acts done during this period definitely yield fruit.
- White sesame seeds (til) are used extensively while celebrating Makar Sankranti. People prepare sweets made of sesame seeds and distribute them to others. Sesame seeds have the ability to absorb and emit high amounts of Sattva frequencies which in turn facilitate spiritual practice.
- Women celebrate this day with an event known as ‘haldi-kumkum’ or ‘haldi-kunku’. They apply turmeric and kumkum (vermilion) on the forehead of other women at the site of the Ādnyā-chakra, apply perfume (attar) to hands-forearms-feet, offer 13 types of sāttvik gifts (vaan), sprinkle rose water on them, offer sweets made of sesame seeds and do the ritual of offering a sāṛī and/or a piece of cloth to a female Deity or to a married woman (Oti).
People in different regions celebrate Makar Sankranti in different ways. To read more, please click here.
In 2015, Makar Sankranti falls on 14 January.