Makar Sankranti, also known as Makar Sankraat, Uttarayan, Pongal, Bhogali Bihu,Poush Parbon or Makaravilakku is considered one of the most auspicious days of Hindus in Vedic The study of the influence of celestial bodies on earth and humans and Indian history, observed as the festival of God Sun. It is observed by worshipping and offering Arghya to Lord Surya,as the sun transits into Heaven divided into 12 signs, of 30° each sign Capricorn (Surya Sankranti in Makar Rashi) on Magh Krishna Paksha Pratipada. The period of six months when Sun’s position is in six signs of the zodiac from Capricorn to Gemini is known as Uttarayan, the Sun transits from the southernmost point (Dakshinayan) to the northernmost point (Uttarayan). The word uttara means north, ayan means movement, Uttarayan means the Movement of planets in the sky in real time of Sun towards north.
During the Uttarayan Surya (Sun) the days are longer and brighter. Inauspicious month (Kharmas) ends on the day of Makar Sankranti on 14th January 2018. The days after Makar Sankranti are considered good for starting all the auspicious events with the end of inauspicious month of Kharmas.
The significance of enjoying the recipes of Til- Gur and Urad Dal Khichadi(Mixture of black gram and rice)during this harvest festival is to celebrate the new crops.The importance of the exchanging or distributing sweets made of jaggery and sesame (Gur Til Laddoos or Chiki) among the people is to forget the past differences and ill-feelings and remain friends in the future. The importance of using sesame seeds is to keep the body warm, healthy and to provide
good oil for nutrition during the winter season.
Generally, the festival Makar Sankranti is celebrated with different names across India on 14th January, every year. Makar Sankranti, a major festival is called Uttarayan in Gujarat, Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan in Maharashtra, Sankraat in Haryana and Rajasthan,Uttarayani or Ghughuti in Uttarakhand. It is also celebrated as International Kite Festival in Gujarat by kite flying and lasts for two days. This festival is also known as Makar Sankranthi or Pongal (South India) or Khichadi (North India and Bihar). It will be observed on 14th January, 2018(Surya Makar Sankranti).
In Kumaon region this festival is called Ghughuti or Ghughutia in local language. Ghughuti Tyar Mela(Uttarayani) will be celebrated from January 8 to January 15, 2018. The main attraction of this festival are a black bird known as Ghughuti(Kale kauwa), a garland of the sweet made with the mixture of jaggery and flour(Atta)is named as Ghughuti (Gulgule) and children. Children come out of their These are twelve sections of zodiac circle having 360° numbered clockwise Ascendant is known as the first house and the last house is known as the twelfth house Each house represents specific traits used for prediction. wearing garland of these sweet puris(Pua) shouting a song for Kale kauwa requesting to take this garland and eat it.
In Himachal Pradesh, it is known as Uttarayani or Magha Saaji, people take holy dip in the river and enjoy eating Khichadi with ghee and Chhanchh and Til-gur Laddoo.
This significant festival is observed as major harvest festival in all over India and abroad during the month of January, generally on 14 January every year, in different forms. In Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of North India, it is celebrated as Lohri (13th January) a day before Sankranti. It is celebrated on the next day as Makar Sankranti or Khichadi in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. Magh Mela is held on this day at holy Prayag in Allahabad, annually. On this day, Tawa (flat frying pan) is not used for preparing Roti or chapati. People eat Dahi-Chuda(curds and Pohe)Til- gur Laddu, Dal- bati,Kheer-Puri in the evening, Chhachh and Khichadi-ghee (black gram and rice) at noon in Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. In Panjab people sing and dance (Bhangra) enjoy Kheer, Sarson ka Sag with Makki ki Roti and Til- gur Sweets.This festival is also known as Sankrant.
In Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, it is celebrated as Sankranthi. In Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana it is celebrated for four days. At dawn, people light a bonfire with logs of wood, other solid fuels and wooden furniture that are no longer useful. Sweets of different kinds are prepared, distributed and exchanged.
In Tamil Nadu it is a four day festival, celebrated as Pongal. The second day of the festival is known as Thai Pongal or simply called Pongal. It is the main day of the festival, falling on the first day of the Tamil month called Thai. Pongal is celebrated with cooking Payasam by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in a new pot or pots, which are later topped and decorated with brown sugar, ground coconut, almonds, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and the mixture is boiled over the pot. This tradition gives it ‘Pongal’ name itself. As the rice boils over and bubbles out of the pot, people start shouting Ponggalo Ponggal and blow the conch,a custom to announce traditionally that this would be a good year with the blessings from God. Then this delicious Payasam or Kheer (new boiled sweet rice) is offered to the God Sun during the sunrise, as praying and thanking to the sun for providing prosperity. This Payasam is served to all the people in the house as Prasadam. People prepare delicious food and sweets such as Payasam, Vadai, Murukku, Rasam,exchange sweets and greetings with their friends and relatives.The harvest festival Jallikattu (Cattle worshipping) is celebrated on last two days of Pongal.
In Kerala,Makar Sankranthi is celebrated at holy Sabarimala,the Makara Jyothi is visible followed by the traditional Makaravilakku celebrations.
In Jammu and Kashmir this festival is celebrated as Shishur Saenkraat. People visit to the temples for worshipping. Different varieties of food and sweets in generous quantities are prepared, served and distributed.
In Maharashtra and Goa it is observed as Makar Sankranti and married women celebrate it traditionally with Haldi- kumkum by exchanging and offering sweets to each other.People enjoy delicious food and multi-coloured Laddu (sweets made with Jaggery and Sesame). People dress up in new clothes and ornaments, perform Puja in temples, visit their friends and relatives to distribute and exchange sweets and gifts with them.
In Gujarat and other parts of western India it is celebrated as Uttarayan, as sun moves in Uttarayan. This day is also famous for kite flying event in different parts of India. It is one of the most significant festivals of Gujarat. Colourful kites are sold in the shops. People fly kites on rooftops and enjoy when they cut any kite, assemble on the roofs and terraces of their houses, enjoy there by singing and dancing. During Uttarayan, people wear new clothes and gold ornaments to look graceful, buy and enjoy special food, such as Undhiyu (spicy, baked mix of winter vegetables and Muthiya), Puri, Jalebi, Khakhra, Dhokla and Chikkis (made from jaggery and sesame or peanuts). Vasi Uttarayan is celebrated on the next day of uttarayan on 15 January.
In West Bengal, this day is celebrated as Poush Parbon, Maghara Domahi.Traditional sweets are prepared with the fresh harvested paddy and the date or palm syrup .This is called Khejurer Gur or Patali used in the preparation of the varieties of Bengali sweets, made traditionally with either Chhena, known as Sandesh or made with rice flour, coconut, milk and ‘khejurer gur'(date or palm jaggery) known as Pitha or Pithe. This is a three-day festival, begins on the day before Makar Sankranti and ends on the day after the Sankranti. The Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on this day. Ratanti Kali Puja is celebrated, next day on January 15.
The famous Ganga Sagar Mela is an important event during Makar Sankranti, held at the head of River Ganges and on the banks of river Hoogly in West Bengal. Lac of devotees visit this place to take holy dip in Ganges to nullify the ill effects of their past sinful deeds.This day is celebrated as Uttarayana or Makar Sankranti in Orissa.Makar Mela is held in Odisha.After taking holy dip in the river, Puja and rituals are performed at Lord Jagannath temple.Different varieties of traditional sweets are prepared to offer Bhog to God, then the Prasad is distributed among the devotees.
In Assam it is called Bhogali Bihu or Magh Bihu. This is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Assam Sikkim and other north-eastern states, by performing Puja and enjoying traditional sweets. People wear new clothes after bathing or taking holy dip in the river water, visit to the temples to perform Puja rituals.
Magh or Maghi Amavasya falls on January 16, Snan-dan or Mauni Amavasya is on 17 January, 2018, this year. In Bangladesh it is known as Shakraint or Poush Sangkranti.
In Nepal, it is known as Maghe Sankranti or Maghi, Khichadi Sankranti (Nepali and Maithili) celebrated on 14th January, every year.This Hindu festival is celebrated in almost all parts of Russia,north-east asia, England, United States of America and Canada. It is celebrated in other countries as following:
Sri Lanka as Pongal, Uzhavar Thirunal; Myanmar as Thingyan; Thailand as Songkran; Cambodia as Moha Sangkran.
Sankranti or Uttarayana Punya-kal 2018:
The Uttarayana Punya-kal or Uttarayana Punyakalam (holy bath) begins with the transit of Sun in Capricorn (Makar Rashi) or Makar Sankranti at noon. Lac of pilgrims rise early in the morning, take ritual bath at Sangam at Prayag in Allahabad, Kshipra river in Ujjain, Ganga Sagar in West Bengal or at other holy river banks, offer Arghya to Lord Surya, chant Surya Mantra and perform different rituals on this day.Worshiping of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Surya and prescribed rituals are performed on the day of Makar Sankranti.
Makar Sankranti is considered an auspicious day for visiting the place of pilgrimage, taking holy dip in the river, Ardh -Kumbh or Kumbh- snan followed by donation (snan-dan). Til (sesame seeds) Gur (jaggery)Urad Dal Khichadi (mixture of black gram and rice) Masoor Daal, clothes and bedding are donated to the Brahmin and poor needy people. Animals and birds are given food. It is considered that the holy Snan-daan may cancel Pitra Dosha and the curses of past and present life. This day is believed most significant for attaining Moksha (Salvation) and fulfilling long awaited desires of devotees. It is recommended to distribute and eat Khichadi, made of Urad dal(black gram and rice) and Ladoos made of Til and Gur (sesame seeds and jaggery) also known as Ckiki or Tilkut as Prasad.
You may chant Surya Beej Mantra as follows:
1.”Om Ghrini Suryaya Namah”
2.”Om Namo Bhagavate Suryaya namah”