Thursday, 14 January
Dedicated to the Sun deity, Makar Sankranti, or Sankranti is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar. It marks the transit of the sun into the northern hemisphere — its northward journey — and is thus also known as Uttarayan. In the northern parts of the country, it marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated as a harvest festival. One of the few festivals observed according to the solar cycle, Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the sun into the makar or capricorn zodiac.
Makar Sankranti is one of the 12 Sankranti (or Sankranthi) days that are a part of the Hindu calendar. Sankranti, also known as Sankramanam means transit and marks transition of the sun into a new sign. The twelve Sankranti days in a year are divided into four main categories — Ayan, Vishuva, Vishnupadi and Shadhitimukhi Sankranti. Among all the 12 Sankranti says, ‘Makar Sankranti’ is the most promising one and it is celebrated all over India.
Since it follows the Gregorian calendar, Makar Sankranti is celebrated on the same day each year, January 14, with some exceptions when it is deferred by a day. You can check Sankranti dates and timings to observe the festival as per tradition.
In Southern India, Makar Sankranti is celebrated for four days with Sankranti Puja rituals and traditions. Sankranti is favourable for charity, but auspicious ceremonies are avoided on this day. Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of a prosperous phase or the holy phase of transition. It also marks the end of the inauspicious phase, which starts in mid-December. All sacred rituals and auspicious ceremonies can be performed after Sankranti.
Makar Sankranti is known by different names in various parts of the country. In Gujarat, it is known by the name of Uttarayan. In Tamil Nadu, it is known as Pongal whereas in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, it is called Maghi (from the month of Magh) and is preceded by the festival of Lohri. On this day, sweets and snacks are prepared at home and kite flying is practised in the Northern parts as well as Gujarat. Makar Sankranti marks a new phase of life which is full of knowledge, purity, and wisdom.