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Hindu Festivals
Makar Sankranti or Pongal

07-Sep-2015, 21:26:49, :

Makar Sankranti or Pongalmarks the transition of the Sun into Makar rasi. It marks the gradual increase of the duration of the day. Pongal is the first day ofUttarayana and coincides with the beginning of the Tamil month of Thai.

Pongal is one of the most popular harvest festivals of southern India, mainly Andhra Pradesh,Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Pongal occurs in the middle of January every year and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayan (sun's journey northwards). The Pongal festival lasts for four days. Celebrations include a drawing of Kolam, swinging & the cooking of delicious Pongal. This day coincides with Makara Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated in almost all parts of India and Nepal in a myriad of cultural forms. It is a harvest festival.

Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India and is a traditional event. Makara Sankranthi is a solar event making one of the few Indian festivals which fall on the same date in the Gregorian calendar every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 13 or 15 January

Makar Sankranti has an astrological significance, as the sun enters the Capricorn (Sanskrit: Makara) zodiac constellation on that day. This date remains almost constant with respect to the Gregorian calendar. However, precession of the Earth's axis (called ayanamsa) causes Makar Sankranti to move over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makar Sankranti was on 31 December and is now on 14 January. According to calculations, commencing the year 2050, Makar Sankranti will fall on 15 January and occasionally on 16 January.

Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. Makara Sankranti commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makara in Sanskrit, this occasion is named as Makara Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January

 

Makar Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said as the 'holy phase of transition'. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be sanctified in any Hindu family, this day onwards. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.

All over the country, Makar Sankranti is observed with great fanfare. However, it is celebrated with distinct names and rituals in different parts of the country. In the states of northern and western India, the festival is celebrated as the Sankranti day with special zeal and fervour. The importance of this day has been signified in the ancient epics like Mahabharata also. So, apart from socio-geographical importance, this day also holds a historical and religious significance. As it is the festival of Sun God, and he is regarded as the symbol of divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.

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