People across all the states in India have started preparations for festivities to mark their respect for the earth's bounty and celebrate the end of winters as the time of harvest festivals is here. Makar Sankranti is one such Hindu festival that is observed under different names in various states.
Makar Sankranti also marks the beginning of the auspicious Uttarayan period, which lasts for six months, and the starting of the month of Magh in the Hindu calendar. The festival suggests the movement of the sun towards the northern hemisphere, signifying the onset of warmer and longer days.
For those who believe in astrology and zodiac signs, Makar Sankranti also signifies the movement of the sun from the zodiac of Sagittarius to that of Capricorn.
Makar Sankranti rituals and customs
The festival is significant as people pay their gratitude to the sun god for a good harvest. Different rituals and activities are carried out in different communities to celebrate the festival, including the much-loved kite flying. Food is another element, which brings people together on this festival. Preparations made from til or sesame seeds and jaggery are common on Makar Sankranti.
Makar Sankranti will be observed today (January 14). According to the Drik Panchang, the timings of the Makar Sankranti Punya Kala will be from 2:43 pm to 5:45 pm tomorrow. The Maha Punya Kala tithi will also start at 2:43 pm and go on till 4:28 pm. Furthermore, 2:43 pm is also the Makar Sankranti moment, as per the Drik Panchang.
In certain states, Makar Sankranti is seen as a good time for people to start new businesses. In West Bengal, people donate til or sesame seeds while in Maharashtra, there is a culture of donating oil, salt, and cotton among married women.
Other harvest festivals being celebrated across the country are Lohri in North India, Bihu in Assam, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Maghi in Haryana and Punjab, and Makaravilakku in Kerala.