Makar Sankranti

Festivals of India, January 15th, 2024
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illustration by Manish

Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated to mark the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn (Makara). It usually falls on January 14th or 15th. People engage in festivities, fly kites, and consume special foods like sesame seeds and jaggery to symbolize the transition from winter to spring. It holds cultural significance across India with various regional variations in customs and names.

Makar Sankranti is believed to be the day when Bhishma Pitamah, a character from the Indian epic Mahabharata, chose to leave his mortal body. According to the Mahabharata, Bhishma had the power to control the time of his death, and he waited on a bed of arrows until the auspicious time of Uttarayan (Makar Sankranti) to depart. It is considered a significant event in Hindu mythology and adds a spiritual dimension to the festival.

Uttarayan, also known as Makar Sankranti, refers to the northward movement of the sun. It marks the beginning of longer days and is considered a propitious time in Hindu tradition. Makar Sankranti is celebrated during Uttarayan when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn (Makara). The festival signifies the end of winter and the onset of spring, symbolizing the transition to brighter and warmer days. People celebrate with various cultural activities, kite flying, and festive foods during this period.

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