The harvest festival of Sankranti, is a seasonal celebration in honour of Lord Surya, the Sun God.
Mid-January is the time of year in Indo-Bangla sub-continent when nature brings with it the warmer winds of spring. During this period, the sub-continent’s most prominent harvest festival, Makar Sankranti is celebrated to mark the end of the winter season while welcoming longer days due to the northward movement of the sun. Also known as Sankranti, this auspicious festival is a seasonal celebration in honour of Lord Surya, the Sun God. It acknowledges the sun’s arrival in Makara rashi, i.e., the Capricorn zodiac sign.
The deity Sankranti, after whom the festival is named, is worshipped as a God. According to Hindu legend, Sankranti killed a demon named Sankarasur. The day following Makar Sankranti is called Karidin, which is also known as Kinkrant. On this day, the Devi slayed the demon Kinkarasur.
Moreover, the sun is a significant aspect of Makar Sankranti too. Prior to the festival, the sun shines primarily on the earth’s southern hemisphere. However, during the festival time, it begins to move towards the North. This period, known as Uttarayana or Winter Solstice, is considered to be auspicious according to Hindu faith. The epic of Mahabharata also states that Bhishma, the supreme commander of the Kaurava forces, had awaited the Uttarayana period to embrace his death.
How is the day celebrated?
The auspicious festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great pomp and joy all over the sub-continent. It is considered as a day which brings with prosperity, peace and happiness. Devotees bathe in the water of sacred rivers such as the Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. According to them, doing so absolves them of their sins. Worshippers also ensure to express their gratitude and pay tribute to the Sun God by performing several spiritual acts. Sweets made from sesame and jaggery such as laddoos and chikkis are shared amongst people. This activity symbolises a desire for unity, peace and harmony.