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Festival That Marks The Transition Of The Sun
January, 2018
Dr Anand Bhardwaj
Scientific Vastu Consultant & Expert on ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ Director, International Institute of Vaidic Culture

Indian cultural heritage has been serenely blessed with its unique identity, regarded as ‘exceptional and distinct’ for its customs and life-philosophy. Under the same ideology there is an important religious festival inherited from the Vedas and astronomical texts called ‘Makar Sankranti.’ This may be consecrated in view of the northern hemisphere with special focus on the Indian sub-continent during the Vedic era and post-primitive India, in ancient literature.

Here ‘Makar’ means the ‘crocodile’ which is an indicative of ‘Capricorn’ (one of the signs in the zodiac chart) and ‘Sankranti’ means ‘Transition.’ The two words denote the transition of Lord Sun from the Sagittarius to Capricorn on its celestial path. This is also to mark the winter solstice that indicates the start of Uttrayana, the starting of the inclination of the Sun towards the northern facet of the earth.

Spiritual Background

The festival of ‘Makar Sankranti’ is sun-centric, hence it is the initiation of the northern solstice of the Sun and recognised as the transition of winter to the spring season. In traditional Indian terminology this transition is also termed as the Sun’s movement from ‘Dhanu Rashi’ to ‘Makar Rashi’ as per the Indian Vedic calendar. ‘Makar Sankranti’ falls every year around the middle of the month of January. This is also a mid-winter spiritual festival of India and Nepal carrying great sacred and divine values. That is why this day is celebrated as a special festival and a holy dip in the river or other sacred ponds is thought to be very favourable to purify the whole body, mind and soul.

The devotees also pray to the Almighty for the welfare of the whole world. In northern India, especially in Punjab, the festivals of ‘Maghi’ and ‘Lohri’ are also closely connected with ‘Makar Sankranti,’ whereas ‘Bihu’ festival is observed in Assam. Similarly, this day is marked as ‘Pongal’ in the state of Tamil Nadu and adjoining areas. These multiple social, religious and spiritual causes enhance the status of this festival.