Happy Makar Sankranti: History, significance and date of the festival
Makar Sankranti is the first major festival to be celebrated in India and usually takes place in January, this year the festival will be celebrated on January 14. Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated by Hindus across India, however different states celebrated the festival under different names, traditions and festivities. Makar Sankranti marks the end of winter as well as the beginning of longer days on account of the sun's northward journey, this period is also known as Uttarayan on this account and is considered to be very auspicious. The harvest festival is both a religious as well as seasonal observance, and is dedicated to Lord Surya, the Sun God and marks the sun's transit into Makara (Capricorn) raashi (zodiac sign). The festival is majorly celebrated in the Indian Subcontinent and also by Indians and Hindus around the world. The festivities related to Makar Sankranti have many names depending on the region it is being celebrated in. For example, by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs, it is called Maghi and is preceded by Lohri. It is called Makara Sankranti and also Poush sôngkrānti in Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Telangana, Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu by Assamese, and Thai Pongal or Pongal by Tamils.
According to drikpanchang.com Makar Sankranti is on Thursday, January 14 - Magh Krishna Paksha Dwitiya tithi. Makar Sankranti Punya Kala or auspicious time starts at 8:30 AM and ends at 5:46 PM. While Makar Sankranti Maha Punya Kala starts at 8:30 AM and ends at 10:15 AM.
While festivities may not be at par as previous years on account of the coronavirus pandemic, usually on this day devotees take a dip in rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery that are considered to be holy. For believers, taking a dip washes away their sins, it is also considered a time of peace and prosperity and many spiritual practices are conducted on this day. Sesame and jaggery ladoos or chikkis are distributed on this day. Popularly referred to as til-gud. The sweet signifies that people must stay together in peace and harmony despite their differences. In Gujarat, kite flying is organised as part of Makar Sankranti festivities. It is also believed that those who die on Makar Sankranti are not According to Hindu belief, if one dies on Makar Sankranti they are not reborn, but go straight to paradise.
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