Makar Sankranti is one of the major festivals in Hinduism which is celebrated all over India. This year Makar Sankranti will be observed on January 14, 2023. On this day the sun moves northwards and enters Makara (Capricorn zodiac). Makar is a Sanskrit word that literally means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition, hence it is known as Makar Sankranti. It is one of the most auspicious festivals of Hindus, characterized by different names and customs in different places. On this day, rituals like bathing and charity are considered of special importance. It is believed that the donations made on this day are of much more significance than that made on any other day.
Makar Sankranti Festival 2023
Makar Sankranti commemorates the end of winter as well as the beginning of longer days due to the sun’s northward movement. This festival is devoted to Lord Surya or the sun god. According to the Vedas, Lord Sun is referred to as the ‘Father’ and passage of the sun determines the changing of phases and seasons of our lives.
According to Hindu mythology, the sun who is the father and Saturn, his son, do not get along well. But on Makar Sankranti, the father goes to meet his son. Both Saturn and Sun are mighty planets whose blessings are believed to allow humans to achieve great success. Because of this, on Makar Sankranti, people pray to both the sun and Saturn. On this day, many devotees visit temples early in the morning after a ritual bath in the Ganges and pray to Surya for blessings for the whole family. According to Hindu mythology, if a person dies on Makar Sankranti, they are not reincarnated. Instead they go straight to heaven.
Makar Sankranti 2023 Celebration
There are a total of twelve Sankranti in a year, out of which Makar Sankranti and Kark (Cancer) Sankranti are of great importance. On this day, worshippers take a bath in sacred rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery. It is believed that taking a dip in these rivers cleanses away the sins of the believers and bestows health, wealth and prosperous life. It is also regarded to be a period of peace and prosperity, and several spiritual acts are performed on this day. Pilgrimage places like Haridwar, Banaras and Allahabad witness a huge rush of devotees on this auspicious day. Giving charity, chanting and tapas all have special significance on Makara Sankranti. Clothes, blankets, and even gold are given as donations at times. Everyone tries their best to donate whatever possible. People distribute til-gud and sweets made of jaggery, rice, green gram and sesame. The sweet signifies the need for people to live together in peace and harmony and also the virtues of sharing and spreading happiness.
Kite flying is a major part of Makar Sankranti celebration. People gather in an open field and fly their kites of different designs and colors. This is a great opportunity to interact with locals and make friends. It is also considered as an auspicious day to start a new business or take up a new position at work place. In several parts of India like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Tamil Nadu new crops are harvested during this time.
During Makar Sankranti there are colorful decorations all around. In some of the rural areas, children go around singing and asking for treats. People throng the melas (fairs), enjoy dancing, kite flying, bon fires and feasts. Kite flying competitions are organized at many places. Khichdi (a dish made of rice and lentils) is savored on this day. India’s biggest fair, Ganga Sagar Mela, is held in West Bengal on Makar Sankranti. This fair is an annual gathering of pilgrims who come to perform several rituals including lighting lamps and chanting.
Let’s have a look at the rituals in some of the states:
Maharashtra – In Maharashtra, people celebrate Makara Sankranti in by exchanging til gud. The thought behind this is to forgive and forget the past ill-feelings. Women gather together and perform a special ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ ceremony.
Gujarat – In Gujarat, Makara Sankranti is celebrated for two days. The first day is Uttarayan, and the next day is Vasi-Uttarayan. The Gujarati people celebrate it with kites, a spicy curry made with winter vegetables, and sweets made with sesame, peanuts and jaggery.
Andhra Pradesh – In Andhra Pradesh, Makara Sankranti is celebrated for three days. People celebrate it with prayers, new clothes, and by inviting guests for feasts. The entrance of the house is decorated with rangoli.
Kerala – In Kerala, people visit the Sabarimala temple to see the Makara Vilakku when Makara Jyothi, the celestial star appears in the sky. The belief is that Lord Ayyappa Swami shows his presence in the form of this celestial lighting and blesses his devotees.
Karnataka – In Karnataka, women distribute delicacies made of freshly cut sugarcane, sesame seeds, jaggery, and coconut. Farmers decorate their bulls and cows in colorful costumes and jump over fire along with their bulls.
Tamil Nadu – Makara Sankranti is celebrated for four days in Tamil Nadu. Jellikattu, a contest for taming the wild bulls, is organized in certain places. The sweet rice pongal and the salted pongal are served to the cattle as a sign of gratefulness. People throw away old things from their houses which shows the importance of removing all the dirt and unwanted things from our homes and mind and making room for new ideas or things.
Even though Makar Sankranti is celebrated in different ways across the country, the spirit of the festival is the same all around the country. Farmers offer prayers to their work elements such as soil, rain, and fire for helping the harvest.
Makar Sankranti 2023 – Date and Auspicious Time
Makar Sankranti falls on 14 January this year. On this day, sun will enter Capricorn at 2.43 pm.
- Makar Sankranti Punya kala is from 02:43 pm to 06:04 pm.
- Makar Sankranti Maha Punya Kala is from 02:43 pm to 04:35 pm.
- Makar Sankranti moment is at 02.43 pm
The Different Names of Makara Sankranti
Even though Makara Sankranti is celebrated all over India, it has different names in different places. Let’s have a look at the names is is known by in different states across India.
- Assam – Magh Bihu
- Punjab – Maghi
- Himachal Pradesh – Maghi Saaji
- Jammu – Maghi Sangrand or Uttrarain or Uttarayana
- Haryana – Sakraat
- Central India – Sukarat
- Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh – Uttarayan
- Uttarakhand – Ghughuti
- Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa – Makara Sankrati
- Tamil Nadu – Pongal
- West Bengal – Poush Sankranti or Makara Sankranthi
- Uttar Pradesh – Khichdi Sankranti
- Andhra Pradesh and Telangana- Sankranthi
‘To be grateful for the land on which our food grows and to unite and rejoice’ is the essence of Sankranti.