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An overview of Makar Sankranti
Before moving onto the details of how the festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated? And how the festival came into its existence? It is worthy to know what the festival of Makar Sankranti looks like? The festival is one of the Indian festivals that is celebrated to worship one of the Hindu entity.
Unlike other prominent festivals of the Hindu religion the festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated according to the movements made by the sun. This is quite different because it is seen that most of the Hindu festivals are celebrated or observed according to the movements of the moon, or rather they follow a lunar calendar for the same purpose.
Makar Sankranti on the other hand follows the solar course of time and it therefore based on the celestial movements of the sun. This festival usually falls in January, and is observed sometime around 14th of January, sometimes that date may alter, based on the celestial course of the sun, but for most of time it is celebrated on the same day.
The festival is majorly celebrated by the Hindu community of India; however, the festival of Makar Sankranti is not restricted to only India. It is popularly observed in other countries of the world, most prominently the neighboring countries of India, Nepal for example.
In India, the festival of Makar Sankranti has many other different names in different states. In states such as Assam it is called Bihu, whereas in central India it is celebrated as Sukarat, in Haryana it is termed as Lohri. Also, the South Indian state of India, such as Tamil Nadu it is referred as Pongal.
So, the same festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated throughout the country, with different names but the essence of the festival remains the same. People are equally excited in Assam as they are in North India. The festival is also a national holiday in some of the states.
Families and friends gather for the occasion and observe the day with joy and happiness. It is a common ritual in the festival of Makar Sankranti that after a period of 12 years the festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated on a massive scale, and this is observed in a form of a mass gathering where people from all over India and even outside the country visit the popular ‘Kumbh Mela’ it is a celebration witnessed and more over participated by many people and devotees.
They take a holy bath in one of the sacred rivers according to the Hindu mythology and mark the festival. The holy dip as it is famously called is done in rivers early in the morning, waiting for the sun to rise, so that the devotees can worship the first ray of sun and thank it.
As it was earlier mentioned that the festival is celebrated and observed sometime in January, in India the month is chilly with freezing waters and even has spine chilling air, and thus taking a dip in the waters means a great devotion, it is a mean of worshiping according to its rites for the festival to be completed.
Observance of Makar Sankranti
Similar to any other Hindu festival, festival of Makar Sankranti holds a strong significance in the lives of its devotees and followers. And it too has more than one significance. Of the many significance, one would be as already mention in the preview section of the essay that is to worship the sun god, and express gratitude towards him and thank him for bringing prosperity and happiness.
Second, the month of January, as it celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar which coincides with the Indian Solar calendar as well, the month is the beginning of the harvesting season of many Rabi crops. It is the time when all the farming families in the rural areas of India gather and enjoy the fruits of their labor, it is the time when the crops are prepared and are ready to be harvested and sold in the markets to give the farmers a prosperous fortune.
As for how long the festival dates back, it has been recorded by many historians that the festival of Makar Sankranti found its significance in the time of Vedas, Rig Veda to be more precise. Therefore, the festival is more than 1500 years old. It has formed its importance in the scriptures of Hindu mythology, and therefore the festival stands firmly for its worshippers.
The festival is celebrated with reciting the prayers from these scriptures and is thus observed to mark the beginning of sacred life. The dip in the holy and scared rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, and Kaveri for example is said to wash away any sin committed by the devotees and to free them from all the malice, and giving them the permission to start a righteous life all over.
As for the best part of any festival, the delicacies that are prepared are made solely for this very occasion. The sweets include the ladoos made from sugar and jaggery and many other delicate food items which are prepared in almost every house, are first given as oblation to the deity that is the sun god and then shared in the family and among friends and relatives.
In some parts of India, the animals are even worshipped. They are cleaned and then dressed up with beautiful flowers and a stick of vermillion is applied on their head. They are even fed the oblation that is prepared by the worshippers.
There is absolutely an aura of happiness and joy in the air. People gather and hold mass celebration, they dance and sing traditional songs that are specifically dedicated for this very occasion. In some states, the festival is celebrated with lighting a bonfire around which people gather and mark the day.
Whatever the festival is called the essence of the festival remains the same. And the joy and happiness it brings in the face of its followers is unmatched. With this spirit, let the Makar Sankranti of the upcoming year be filled with prosperity and joy.