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Makar Sankranti 2024: History, Significance, and Celebrations

After a cold winter, Makar Sankranti comes to kick off the harvest season every year in January. This vibrant festival is celebrated in January on either the 14th or 15th if it is a leap year. Such a festival holds deep cultural roots across India. However, not everyone knows the captivating story and true significance behind Makar Sankranti. Let's explore the history and how people celebrate Makar Sankranti from the old days to modern-day celebrations.

Makar Sankranti

Knowing Makar Sankranti Further

Makar Sankranti is a big Hindu festival celebrated with lots of excitement all over the country. It marks the start of the harvest season in India and is named after the sun moving from one zodiac sign to another – 'Makara' and 'Sankranti.' People consider this festival lucky as it symbolizes the shift from winter to spring.

For Hindus, Makar Sankranti is a special time celebrating the Sun's journey called Uttarayan. And according to astrology, it's the first day when the Sun moves into the Capricorn (Makara) zodiac sign.

The Story of Makar Sankranti

According to Hindu stories, in the epic Mahabharata battle, the warrior Bhishma decided to stick around until Uttarayan. This is because Uttarayan is seen as a special and fortunate time. This is why we celebrate Makar Sankranti today.

Additionally, as per certain religious writings, those who pass away during this time can achieve Moksha or liberation. This highlights the religious and spiritual importance of Makar Sankranti.

How Makar Sankranti 2024 is Celebrated in Different Regions 

Certain regions are well-known for their vibrant Makar Sankranti festivities. Travel enthusiasts have the opportunity to discover these destinations and experience diverse and intricate festivities.

Each state brings its own unique touch to Makar Sankranti. This creates an intriguing experience for those interested in exploring India's cultural diversity during this festive season.

1. Karnataka

In Karnataka, Makar Sankranti is known as Suggi. It is a festival celebrating the harvest for farmers. On this day, girls wear new clothes and visit their loved ones, sharing sweets, dried coconut, fried groundnuts, and jaggery mixed with white sesame seeds. This marks the start of the sugarcane harvest season, which is a big deal in the region. In certain areas of Karnataka, newlyweds are required to give married women bananas on this day for five years.  with the number of bananas increasing in multiples of five each year. Each year, the number of bananas given out increases by multiples of five.

2. Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as a four-day Pongal break. The first day, Boghi, involves getting rid of old clothes and items by burning them. It symbolizes the end of the old and the start of something new. On Thai Pongal, the festival's second day, people make the Pongal dessert by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery, and then topping it with raisins, cashew nuts, and brown sugar.

3. Assam

In Assam, people celebrate Makar Sankranti with feasts and bonfires. It is a tradition known as Magh Bihu. Young folks build temporary homes called Meji and Bhelaghar using bamboo and leaves. The next morning, they burn these structures after having the feast. The festivities also include Assamese games like buffalo fighting and pot-breaking, called tekeli bhonga.

4. Gujarat

In Gujarat, it is celebrated as Uttarayan for two days. A notable highlight is the participation in the International Kite Festival. It is where locals eagerly engage in flying uniquely crafted kites made of lightweight paper and bamboo. It's a captivating experience to witness and take part in this festive celebration.

5. Punjab

In Punjab, Lohri is a festive occasion for farmers, symbolizing the start of a new agricultural year. Prior to the harvest season, farmers come together to pray to Lord Agni, seeking blessings for a prosperous crop. As the day progresses, the community unites for the lively bhangra dance, accompanied by the joyful exchange of revari and gajjak among participants.

6. Kerala

Each year during Makara Sankranti, the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala, India, comes alive with the Makaravilakku celebration. This includes a gathering at Sabarimala's hill shrine. It also involves a procession showcasing Thiruvabharanam, the sacred ornaments of Lord Ayyappan. Around 500,000 devotees make the pilgrimage to Sabarimala on this day to partake in the darshan.

7. West Bengal

Poush Sankranti, also referred to as Makar Sankranti, signifies the culmination of the Bengali month Poush. It is a festive occasion for harvest celebrations in Bengal. In rural Bengal, farmers' households engage in cleaning and embellishing their homes. They decorate with mango leaves to invite the blessings of Lakshmi and craft intricate Alpanas or rangolis using rice flower paste.

Performing Shani Puja

Traditionally, Makar Sankranti is a time for honoring the Sun God. However, it's advised this year to also include the worship of Shanidev for added auspiciousness and a joyful life. Check out the list below to understand the reasons behind this suggestion:

  • In astrology and Hindu tradition, every year is linked to a ruling planet, which exerts the most significant influence over that specific year.

  • According to astrology, the ruling planet for 2024 is Saturn. This year will be characterized by both favorable and unfavorable effects stemming from the influence of Saturn.

  • As the Sun enters Capricorn during Makar Sankranti, the convergence of Shani and the Sun is predicted to bring about unfavorable effects in astrology. This is due to the perceived negative dynamics between these two celestial bodies.

  • Makar Sankranti is the initial festival in the Hindu calendar. In relevance, experts suggest paying homage to both Shanidev and the Sun God during such a time. It is to ward off any potential negativity in the coming year and start it on a positive note. This practice is believed to set the tone for a favorable and harmonious year ahead.

  • Doing this will bring Lord Shani's blessings (Offering Flowers to Shanidev) upon you, ensuring a year filled with good fortune.

Key Takeaway

Makar Sankranti comes with different celebrations and cultural importance. Such a festival reflects India's diverse heritage and unity. Let's take a moment to appreciate the cultural richness it brings and embrace the festive joy that brings people together across the nation.

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