Significance of Makar Sankranti
It is a great festival to propitiate Sun and get blessings of Sun. Makar Sankranti is popular Hindu festival which is celebrated in many parts of country and also in many other parts of world with great zeal and enthusiasm. Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. Makara Sankranti commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makara in Sanskrit, this occasion is named as Makara Sankranti in the Indian context.
Makar Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said as the 'holy phase of transition'. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be sanctified in any Hindu family, this day onwards. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.
All over the country, Makar Sankranti is observed with great fanfare. However, it is celebrated with distinct names and rituals in different parts of the country. In the states of northern and western India, the festival is celebrated as the Sankranti day with special zeal and fervour. The importance of this day has been signified in the ancient epics like Mahabharata also. So, apart from socio-geographical importance, this day also holds a historical and religious significance. As it is the festival of Sun God, and he is regarded as the symbol of divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.
According to the Hindu calendar Makar Sankranti is a festival celebrated at Magh 1st of Hindu Solar Calendar for the happiness of getting new crops for farmers. It also symbols the end of the winter solace which makes the day last longer than night.
Determination of Date
The day of entry of sun in Makar Rashi as per Niryan System is celebrated as Makar Sankranti. If sun enters into Makar Rashi before sun rise then Makar Sankranti is celebrated on previous day.
How to Celebrate
Makar Sankranti is related to the motion of Sun in the zodiac. Sankranti is the time and day when Sun moves from one zodiac sign to another zodiac sign. Sun changes its sign every month so there is a sankranti every month. Makar Sankranti is the time when Sun enters in the sign Capricorn. With the transit of Sun in the sign Capricorn Sun enters in the northern hemispheres of celestial sphere. Sun transits in the southern hemisphere when it passed through the zodiac signs from Cancer to Sagittarius and it transits in the northern hemisphere when it transits from the zodiac signs Capricorn to Gemini. As per Hindu classical Vedic texts the six months when Sun transits in the southern hemisphere of celestial sphere it is called Divine nights and when Sun transits in the northern hemisphere it is called Divine day. As per Muhurat Chintamani 16 minutes before the entry of Sun in any sign and 16 minutes after the Sun’s entry in any zodiac sign is called Punya Kal of Sankranti. If Sun enters into a sign before mid-night then the second half of the last day is punya kal. When Sun enters into a sign after mid night then the first half of the next day will be punya kal. If it enters exactly at midnight in a zodiac sign then previous day as well as the next day will be punya kal. If Sun enters into another sign after sun set then punya kal will be the next day only.
According to Padma Purana the donations made on this day are very beneficial. Donate red clothes, wheat, jaggary, copper vessel, red flower, coconut on this day.
Wake up early in the morning, have bath. Wear red clothes, sit on red cloth and recite seed mantra of Sun "Om Ghirini Surya Aditya".
Makar Sankranti Vrat (Fast)
(This fast of Lord Sun is observed to get rid of troubles and to abstain from the cycle of rebirth)
It is believed that Yashoda donated beetel (paan) on this day and as a result of it she got most capable son as Lord Krishna. It is considered most auspicious day for donation. Even Greeks and Romans consider it as a great day of donation. This festival of Sun in India is celebrated in different forms like as Lohari in Punjab, Paungal in South, Sankrant in UP and MP and Khichari in Bihar. Gods come to earth on this day. One should have bath in Ganga on this day.
Method of Observing Makar Sankranti Vrat
Festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated on the Krishna Pratipada of Hindi month Magha. Generally this day falls on the 14th January of every year. Have food one day before it and that too only once. On the day of Pratipada offer Arghya to Sun after having your bath. Donate Khichari to Brahmins and poor people. Read Makar Sankranti Vrata Katha.
Source : Indian Astrology