Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival that marks the transition of the sun from the zodiac sign of Dhanu (Sagittarius) into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) and marks the beginning of the sun’s journey northwards, known as Uttarayan. This year, it will be celebrated on January 14, 2023. Makar Sankranti is a significant festival for farmers as it marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of a new agricultural cycle. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm by farmers, who thank the gods for a bountiful harvest and pray for a good crop in the coming year. (Also read: Makar Sankranti 2023: Puja muhurat, rituals and all you want to know)
In Hindu mythology, the transition of the sun from Dakshinayan to Uttarayan is seen as a time of spiritual awakening and renewal. It is believed that the positive energy and spiritual vibrations of the universe are at their strongest during Uttarayan, making it an ideal time for spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation.
What is the difference between Uttarayan and Dakshinayan?.
Uttarayan refers to the period when the sun moves towards the northern hemisphere, beginning on Makar Sankranti (January 14) and lasting for six months until the start of the monsoon season. Many festivals and pilgrimages take place during this time, and it is believed that the positive energy and spiritual vibrations of the universe are at their strongest. In some states, people also fly kites to make most of the increased sun exposure.
Dakshinayan, on the other hand, refers to the period when the sun moves towards the southern hemisphere, beginning after the monsoon season and lasting until Makar Sankranti. This period is characterised by shorter days and longer nights and is considered a time of spiritual decline and darkness. Therefore, many religious activities such as fasts, yagyas, and worship are performed to overcome diseases and sorrows.
How Makar Sankranti is celebrated in different parts of the country
In different states, it is celebrated in different ways, In Gujarat and Maharashtra, people fly kites to mark the occasion. In Bengal, it is celebrated as Poush Sankranti and people make and eat a special dish called “Pitha” made of rice flour, in Tamil Nadu it is celebrated as Pongal and people make sweet dishes and offer to Sun god, In Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated as Sankranti and people make sweet dishes and prepare a traditional dish called “Puliogare” made of tamarind and jaggery.