Makara Sankranti, Makar Sankramanam, Makara Sankramanam, Makar Sankranthi, Pongal.
What is Sankranti ?
Sankranti is a Sanskrit word. The meaning of Sankarnti as per Hindu astrology is the movement of sun from one Rashi to another. Rashi is nothing but the Zodiac sign of Hindu astrology.
The sun is believed to stay with each sign for approximately 30 days or one month. Therefore the sun moves from on Rashi to another Rashi after every 30 days. Every month there is a Sankranti depending on the Rashi to which the sun moves.
What is Makara Sankranti ?
Makara is a Hindu Zodiac sign which is equivalent to Capricorn. As stated above when the Sun moves from Dhanu Rashi (Saggitarius) to Makara Rashi (Capricorn) it is considered as Makara Sankranti.
What is Uttarayan ?
The year of a Hindu calendar is divided into two periods depending on the movement of the sun.
Uttarayana : Movement of the sun in the Northward direction.
Dakshinayana: Movement of the sun in the Southward direction.
As we know that sun is stationary, it is only an apparent North ward or South ward movement of the Sun when seen from Earth.
When is Makara Sankranti ?
The actual Makra Sankranti should coincide with the winter soliste which marks the start of a gradual increase in the day time when compared to the night time. The hindu calendar is prepared based on the sidereal times and not torpical times. Hence the Makra Sankranti would come after 21 days of the actual winter Soliste which would be on January 14th.
A thousand years before Makra Sankranti was on December 31st and a 5000 years later Makara Sankranti will be in the month of February. And would move further as the number of years increase. This happens because the Hindu Astrology did not consider the tilt of the Earth while calculating their calendar.
Makar Sankranti comes in the Month of Magh for the Solar Calendar.
Significance of Makra Sanakranti
Makara Sankranti is a start of the auspicious time of Uttarayana. The sun travels towards the North direction. As per Hindu Mythology a years time for humans is considered as one day for Gods. The Uttarayana is the start of the day or morning for Gods. Uttarayana is considered auspicious for visiting temples.
Makara Sankranti is also significant for the one who perform the bath in the holy rivers. During Makara Sankranti lot of devotees would perform the early sunrise bath in the holy river Ganga.
Makara Sankranti is also the biggest harvest festival of India. Makara Sankranti
Is celebrated with different names in different parts of the country with lot of zest and devotion.
Legends of Makra Sankranti
There are many legends associate with Makara Sankranti few of them are as below
1) It is believed that Lord Vishnu had killed all the demons or Asuras and buried them under the Mandhara Parvata or Madhara hill. Hence Makara Sankranti
is considered as the end of all evils and negativities. Makara Sankranti marks the start of a righteous life.
2)It is believed that Sun God would visit the house of his son Lord Shani and would stay in his house for one month. Lord Shani is the lord of the Makara Rashi. As per the mythology it is believd that Lord Shani and Sun god have differences but still Sun god makes it a point to visit Lord Shani. Hence Makara Sankranti signifies the relationship of father and son.
3) It is believd that Bhagiradha did Tarpan to his 60000 ancestors on Makara Sankranti. Bahgiradh had done great penance to bring Ganga down to earth and help his 60000 ancestors who were burnt down by Kapil Muni get Mukti or Salvation. The place where he performed is known as Ganga Sagar and even today lot of devotees would visit this place and offer Tarpans to their dead ancestors.
4)It is believed that Bhishma, the great character of Mahabharata waited for the Uttarayana Punya Kala to start on the bed of arrows and died on Makara Sankranti. Bhisma was given a boon by his father that “ Bhishma would only when he wanted and until then death can never touch him” . Bhisma choose Makara Sankranti day for his death.
5) Makara Sankranti is celebrated as Maghi by Sikhs. It is believed that the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh had torn the Beydaava written by 40 Sikhs and gave them Mukti on Makara Sankranti. These 40 Sikhs are popularly known as 40 Mukhtas.
Rituals on Makara Sankranti
Makara Sankranti is celebrated in almost all parts of India with different names. The following are the rituals that are followed in different parts of the country
Rituals of Makara Sankranti in South India
Rituals of Makara Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh
In Andhra Pradesh the festival is known a Sankranti and is celebrated for 3 days. Originally it used to be for 4 days but people observe it only for 3 days.
The first day is known as Bhogi.
The second day is known as Sankranti or in the local dialect called as “PEDDA PANDAGA”. Here Pedda means big and Pandaga is festival meaning Big Festival.
The third day is known as Kanuma.
The fourth or the final day is known as Mukkanuma.
Rituals during Bhogi
The day before Sankranti is known as Bhogi. As Makara Sankranti is a day that is believed to start a new life leaving behind all the negativities, people celebrate this day by burning down old furniture and other useless things. As per the understanding the night of Bhogi should be the longest night of the year and hence people world organize camp fire during the early mornings of Bhogi. Also Makara Sankranti marks the start of warmer days ahead and so people enjoy the final winter night by organizing camp fire. This campfire is lit using old furniture and other useless things. This normally begins very early in the morning and is celebrated on a large scale in Andhra Pradesh.
During the day people would draw big rangolis in front of the house. Balls made out of cow dung which are considered as Goddess Gauri are placed in the centre of the rangolis. These are known as Gobbemmalu. In the evening friends and relatives are invited to the house. Children are showered with Indian Jujube fruit locally called as Regi Pandu. It is believed that by showering Regi Pandlu all the evils on the children are removed.
Rituals during Makra Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh
The main festival is on the Makara Sankranti day and people get up early in the morning and take a head bath. They would wear new clothes and get ready for the festival.
The celebration of Sankranti is different in different parts of Andhra Pradesh. In few places Sankranti is celebrated by flying kites. In coastal Andhra Pradesh Sankranti is celebrated by organizing Cock fights, bull race etc. Cock fights of East Godavari and West Godavari are very famous. People from neighboring states also come to watch these fights. A lot of money in the form of bets also change hands.
During Sankranti the Bulls are decorated and are known as Gangireddulu. Few people would take these around the village and make the Bull perform difficult tasks.
Rangoli of huge size is drawn on Sankranti. Competitions are also held in drawing Rangolis.
On this day Tarpans to ancestors are given.
Makara Sankranti is also famous for the sweets that are prepared the common sweets being Ariselu and Nuvvu laddu.
Rituals during Kanuma
Kanuma is the last day of the three day Sankranti festival. Kanuma is not celebrated as much as Bhogi and Sankranti. People normally eat Non Veg on the Kanuma day.
Rituals on Makara Sankranti in Karnataka
In Karnataka Makara Sankranti is celebrated by the name of Suggi. On Suggi, young girls would wear new clothes. They would visit their relatives and friends with family. Ellu ,Sakkera Acchu and a piece of sugar cane kept in a plate are exchanged. This is known as “ Ellu Birodhu”. Ellu is a sweet made out of Sesame seeds(Till) and ground nuts mixed with Jaggery. Sakkera Acchu are different shapes that are made out of Sugar.
In North Karnataka flying is a common method of celebrating the festival.
Cows and other cattle are decorated and displayed. Cows are specially decorated and taken in a procession around the village or town. The Cows are made to cross a pyre . this ritual is known as “Kichchu Haayisuvudu”.
In few parts of Karnataka newly married woman would give away Bananas to other married women. This would start with giving away 5 Bananas and would increase in multiples of 5 in the coming years. Few people celebrate Makara Sankranti by giving away red beries called “Yalchi kai” along with the Bananas.
Makara Sankranti Rituals in Kerala
Makara Sankranti is celebrated at the Lord Ayyappa Shrine. On Makara Sankranti devotees would throng the temple of Lord Ayyappa in lakhs to have a glimpse of Makara Jyothi followed by Makara Vailakku celebrations.
Rituals of Makara Sankranti in Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu also Makara Sankranti is celebrated for four days
The First day Bhogi Pandagai (Bhogi).
The Second day Thai Pongal
The Third day Maattu Pongal
The Fourth day Kaanum Pongal
The festival is celebrated from the last day of Maargazhi month till the third day of Thai Month.
The first day Bhogi is celebrated as in Andhra Pradesh by burning of all the possible useless old things to mark the start of new life.
Thai Pongal or Pongal
The second day is Thai Pongal or simply Pongal. Pongal is the main festival day of the four day long festival. People would boil rice with milk and add jaggery to prepare a dish. Before the rice is added the milk is made to boil untill the milk overflows the vessel or comes out of the vessel. The moment the milk flows out of the vessel people would shout “Pongallo Pongal” and a counch is blown to announce the arrival of a good and happy things. This is offered to the Sun and later served to the family members, relatives and friends.
A lot of sweets are prepared and exchanged between relatives and friends.
Kolams decorations are made in front of all the houses in TamilNadu.
The third day is Maattu Pongal and a day on which cattle are thanked for their help in farming and other activities. On Maattu Pongal cattle are decorated with flowers and other decorative items. They are left free and fed with sweet rice and sugar cane. Cattle are left free to roam in the village.
Jalli Kattu a form of taming the Bull is organized and is very famous. Lot of people from different states would visit to see Jalli Kattu.
The fourth day is known as Kaanum Pongal. Kaanum means to view and hence people would visit their relatives and friends. Kaanum is the day to thank relatives and friends.
Makara Sankranti Rituals in North India
Rituals during Makara Sankranti in Bihar
Sankranti is celebrated fro two days in Bihar. 14th and 15th January every year.
14th January is celebrated as Makara Sankranti or Sarkraat or Khichidi. The common ritual is taking bath in rivers and ponds. Lot of traditional dishes are prepared for the day.
15h January is called as Makraat. On Makraat people prepare a special dish Khichri prepared with Dal, Rice replete with Cauliflower,Potatoes and Peas. The day of Makraat starts by putting Til (sesame seeds) in fire followed by eating “Dahi Chuda” with Lai and Tilkut.
Normally people eat Dahi Chuda with Kohada( Red Pumpkin) ka Bhajiay prepared specially with a combination of salt and sugar without adding water. Lots of Lai i.e Laddus made of Til.
Khichidi is the prepared in the night. Friend and relatives are invited to the house. The name of the festival itself is Khichidi because such a good Khichidi is prepared only on the Sankranti day.