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The Prominence of Makar Sankranthi

An Air Warrior and prolific writer with over 200 published short stories and 14 books on fiction



Hinduism is in many ways the oldest religion in the world. It predates Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam by at least 2000 years. In terms of antiquity, the closest would be Zoroastrianism which was practiced in Persia. Over the centuries, Zoroastrianism has died a natural death and there are just about 100,000 worshipers left in the world with the majority in India. In contrast, Hinduism is vibrant with over 1.5 billion followers.

Hinduism is replete with festivals and rituals. One of the important festivals is Makar Sankranti. It is a major harvest festival celebrated in different parts of India. Makara Sankranti or Maghi is a festival dedicated to the sun god(Surya). The festival is also celebrated in Nepal which has a predominantly Hindu population.

Makar Sankranti is one of the few festivals in the Hindu calendar which is associated with the movements of the heavens, the planets, and the sun. The festival is celebrated every year in the month of January when winter is in full bloom in the subcontinent. The month of January is as per the Gregorian calendar and is actually the lunar month of Magha as per the Hindu calendar.

This festival is also known as the Harvest Festival and is a day the people of India and Nepal celebrate their harvest.


The festival

As I have already mentioned, this festival has a scientific background and I don't think there is any other festival that has a similar background. It marks the first day of the sun's transit into Makara Rashi. In Western astrology, it would mean the transit of the sun into the house of Capricorn.

The festival is closely connected with the winter solstice. The winter solstice occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern).

It also marks the start of longer days with the lunar logbook, when the sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn or from Dakshinayana to Uttarayana.

The period of mid-January is also celebrated as the starting of the harvest time of year and discontinuance of the northeast rainstorm in South India. The development of the earth from one zodiac mark into an additional is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac reputed to be Makar in Hindi, this event is named Makar Sankranti in the Indian setting. It is one of the few Hindu celebrations that take place on a settled date i.e. 14th January each year.

The festival is celebrated all over India from Assam to Punjabi and South India. Each of the regions has its own nomenclature for this festival. It is known as Maghe Sankranti in Nepal, Magh Bihu in Assam, Lohri in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, and Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu.

The festival has great significance and is a festive time. It is observed with social festivities such as colorful decorations, melas ( or village fairs), dances, kite flying, bonfires, and feasts.

As per Diana L Eck, Professor and specialist in Indology at Harvard university the festival finds mention in the Mahabharata. Just for the record, the Mahabharata was written from 4000 to 5000 BC.

.Every 12 years which marks the complete revolution of Jupiter around the sun a massive celebration is conducted and millions of people make a pilgrimage to pray to the sun and bathe in the river. An estimated 40 to 100 million people attend this mela also called the Kumbh Mela which takes place at the confluence of the river Ganga and Jamuna at Allahabad. This tradition dates back to Adi Sankaracharya who was a renowned scholar and established the main philosophy of Hinduism in 700 CE


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Last word

Makar Sankranti, separated from a harvest celebration is likewise viewed as the starting of a favorable phase in Indian society. It stamps the closure of an unpropitious stage which consistent with the Hindu logbook starts around mid-December. It is accepted that any promising and hallowed custom could be blessed in any Hindu family, from this day onwards.

Experimentally, this day imprints the starting of warmer and longer days contrasted with the nights. In different expressions, Sankranti marks the termination of winter time of year and the starting of another harvest or spring period. In every part of the nation, Makar Sankranti is watched with an amazing display. It is a period of great celebration. The essentialness of this day has been connoted in the old stories like Mahabharata. This day has chronicled and religious importance. As it is the celebration of Sun God and he is viewed as the image of holiness and astuteness, the festival has an added significance.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 28, 2020:

Dear Sangre, I am so glad you have appreciated the article.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on December 28, 2020:

It's so unusual to hear of festivals like this thay celebrate natural events, science and harvest. It is great that people still acknowledge and celebrate traditions that have been around forever.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 27, 2020:

Chitra, sweet of you to have read and commented. Yes, there is a lot of science behind some Hindu festivals and beliefs.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 27, 2020:

Nice and informative article to highlight the Uttarayan/ Makar Sankranti. The best part of the Hindu festivals is that we worship Nature in all it’s forms. I believe that our festivals are based on scientific explanations. The way we celebrate it, may differ according to traditions.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful information.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 27, 2020:

Pamela, thanks so much for sparing time and commenting

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 27, 2020:

Ruby Jean, Its a pleasure to read your comment

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 27, 2020:

This is a fascinating article about Hinduism. The Kumbh Mela sounds like a wonderful celebration. All of the celebrations sound wonderful, MG.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 27, 2020:

This was an interesting read, it's good to know other beliefs and honor all people who travel this road called life.

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