Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated in many parts of the world like the Russia, Papua New Guinea, United States and many other countries. It is observed in many different forms across India and other nations. It is known as the harvest festival in the Nepali Calendar which falls on the Magh month. The Nepali Calendar is a Hindu Solar Calendar.

Makar Sankranti 2017

Happy Makar Sankranti

Happy Makar Sankranti

The festival is also a sign of the transition of the sun on its celestial path into Makara, a zodiacal sign commonly known as Capricorn. The day is an also a traditional sign of the arrival of spring in India and Nepal. It is a traditional solar event in India and Nepal which makes it a Hindu festival.

When is Makara Sankranti 2017?

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The festival falls commonly on 14th January with some expectations where it falls on 15th January.  Under the sidereal zodiac, it is observed at the start of the Capricorn period. It also remarks the arrival of the summer season.

Many people mix Makar Sankranti with Winter Solstice and believe at the Tropic Of Capricorn the sun ends its southward journey. In addition to that, it is believed that the sun starts moving towards Tropic of Cancer northward on the push month of the Nepalese Hindu month. According to Indian religion, there is no hidden solar observance of Winter Solstice but the Vaikuntha Ekadashi festival is the closest which is calculated on the lunar calendar. After Winter Solstice the sun then makes goes northward as the daylight increases.

Maker Sankranti indicates celebration of the day that comes after the winter solstice. Scientifically winter solstice occurs between the 21st and 22nd December in the Northern Hemisphere. On 22nd December daylight will begin and the sun begins its northward path which indicates Uttarayaan. Due to the Axial percussion of the earth the date of winter solstice changes gradually. The time frame is one day early in every seventy years. Therefore at some point in time Makar Sankranti marks the day after represents the date of the winter solstice. The date in mid-January is equivalent to 300CE which was the prime time of the Indian mathematics and astronomy.

Names of Makar Sankranti

Makar Sakranti is celebrating in almost all parts of India with regional variations. It is also known by different names and celebrated in various ways across the country and globally. Below is a table of the many names of Makar Sankranti in India and other countries.

Sr.No. Names Places
1Maka SankrantiMost parts of India
2PongalTamil Nadu
4MaghiHaryana,Himachal Pradesh and Punjab
5Bhogali BihuAssam
6Shishur SaenkraatKashmir Valley
7KhichdiUttar Pradesh and Western Bihar
8Makara SankramanaKarnataka
9Poush SangkrantiBangladesh
10Maghe SankrantiNepal
12Pi Ma LaoLaos
13Thingyan Myanmar
14Moha SangkranCambodia
15Pongal Sri Lanka

Makar Sankranti Fairs (Melas)

Ganga Aarti at Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela – Makar Sankranti

Many fairs (also known as mela) across India are organized of which Kumbha Mela being one of the most famous fair. The Kumbha Melas is held every twelve years at four holy locations. The four sacred sites being Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain, and Nashik. Another fair held every year is the Magha Mela at Prayag. It is commonly referred as mini-Kumbh Mela. Other few fairs are the Gangasagar Mela held at Ganges River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal, Makara Mela in Odisha, Poush Mela in Santiniketan, Bengal, and Tusu Mela also known as Tusu Porab celebrated in Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Makar Sankranti Celebration

Makar Sankranti is celebrated in all parts of India with different traditions based on their regional customs. In the state of Gujarat, Makar Sankranti is a big festival and lasts two days. The first day is known as Uttarayan celebrated on 14th January and Vasi Uttarrayn celebrated on 15th January. Vas Uttarayan is celebrated especially in the city of Surat. Most Gujaratis keenly await the festival to fly kites. Kites are known as ‘Patang’ in Gujarati. Kites are commonly rhombus shape and made of paper and bamboo. The string has abrasives to cut other kites. Most people start flying kites in December in most parts of Gujarat. A typical food generally prepared by most homes is Undhiyu. People usually eat Chikkis and peanuts on the day.

In some parts of the country, Makar Sankranti is a four-day festival such as Tamil Nadu.

In Shimla, Makar Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji. Saaji means the start of the new month. Therefore it refers to the beginning of the month of Magha. On the day people take dips into holy springs or sacred rivers. Standard practice is to visit neighbors and eat khichdi and buttermilk. The festival ends with singing and dancing.

In Nepalese Makar Sankranti is celebrated on the first of Magh on the Hindu Solar Nepali calendar Bikram Samwat. This day signifies as it ends the ill-omened month of poush. All religious ceremonies are prohibited during the month of poush. The day is important as the sun leaves its southernmost spot and move towards northward. Similar to other religious traditions Maghe Sankranti is also a solstice festival.

People take ritual baths in the festival commonly at religious river locations. The rivers where such bath is done is the Sankhamul on Bagmati river, Koshi river basin at Dolalghat, Narayani basin at Triveni, Ridi on Kaligandaki and Devghat near Chitwan. Foods are also distributed to relatives and friends. Favorite dishes include the laddoo, sweet potato fries, and ghee. Female members or the mother of the house wishes good health of the family.

Enjoy this Makar Sankranti with family and friends. Fly kites as high as you can and enjoy your meals this Makar Sankranti with family. Have a great holiday!!!