.Bishwa Nath Singh:
Today being the 14th of January, Makar Sankranti is being celebrated is celebrated in almost all parts of our country, India in varied cultural forms, with great devotion, fervor & gaiety. Millions of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar & Prayag and pray to Lord Sun.It is celebrated with pomp in southern parts of the country as Pongal, and in Punjab is celebrated as Lohri & Maghi. Gujarati’s not only look reverentially up to the sun, but also offer thousands of their colorful oblations in the form of beautiful kites all over the skyline.
.. (Picture of Sun- God and Ganga Ma)
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Bishwa Nath Singh :
Makar Sankranti is the day for which Bhishma Pitamah kept waiting to leave his mortal body.It is the day when the glorious Sun-God of Hindus begins its ascendancy and entry into the Northern Hemisphere. Sun for the Hindus stands for Pratya...ksha-Brahman – the manifest God, who symbolizes, the one, non-dual, self-effulgent, glorious divinity blessing one & all tirelessly.The Sun is the one who transcends time and also the one who rotates the proverbial Wheel of Time. The famous Gayatri Mantra, which is chanted everyday by every faithful Hindu, is directed to Sun God to bless them with intelligence & wisdom. Sun not only represents God but also stands for an embodiment of knowledge & wisdom.Of all the cosmic bodies, the Sun is the most glorious & important, thus every sun-centric cosmic event became very important spiritual, religious & cultural events. On Makar Sankranti day the Sun begins its ascendancy and journey into the Northern Hemisphere.While the traditional Indian Calendar is basically based on lunar positions, but sankranti is a solar event, so while dates of all festivals keep changing, the english calendar date of Makar Sankranti is always same, the fourteenth of January. Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha. There is another significance of this day, after this day the days start becoming longer & warmer, and thus the chill of winter in on decline.As the legend goes that the great savior of his ancestors, Maharaj Bhagirath, did great Tapasya(Physical penance) to bring the Ganges down on the earth for the redemption of sixty thousand sons of Maharaj Sagar, who were burnt to ashes at the Kapil Muni Ashram, near the present day Ganga Sagar. It was on this day that Bhagirath finally did tarpan with the Ganges water for his unfortunate ancestors and thereby liberated them from the curse. After visiting the Patala for the redemption of the curse of Bhagirath’s ancestors the Ganges finally merged in the Sagar. ( Sea-Bay of Bengal) Even today a very big Ganga Sagar fair is organized every year on this day at the confluence of River Ganges Another well-known reference of this day comes when the great grandsire of Mahabharata fame, Bhishma, declared his intent to leave his mortal body on this day. He had the boon of desired death( Ichha-Mrityu )from his father, so he kept lying on the bed of arrows till this day and then left his mortal body on Makar Sankranti day. It is believed that the person, who dies during the period of Uttarayana, becomes free from transmigration. So this day was seen as a godly bliss to start one’s journey or endeavors to the higher realms beyond and the Bay of Bengal. Millions of People take dip in the water and do tarpan This festival is celebrated differently in different parts of the country.In Uttar Pradesh, Sankrant is called “Khichiri”. Taking a dip in the holy rivers on this day is regarded as most auspicious. A big one-month long “Magha-Mela” fair begins at Prayag (Allahabad) on this occasion. Apart from Triveni, ritual bathing also takes place in the Ganges at many places like Haridvar and Garh Mukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh, and Patna in Bihar and in River Sone at Dehri in Bihar State of India.In Bengal every year a very big Mela is held at Ganga Sagar where the river Ganga is believed to have dived into the nether region and vivified the ashes of the sixty thousand ancestors of King Bhagirath. This mela is attended by a large number of pilgrims from all over the country.In Tamil Nadu Sankrant is known by the name of “Pongal”, which takes its name from the surging of rice boiled in a pot of milk, and this festival has more significance than even Diwali In Punjab where December and January are the coldest months of the year, huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankrant and which is celebrated as “LOHARI”. Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown in the bonfires, around which friends and relatives gather together. The following day, which is Sankrant, is celebrated as MAGHI. The Punjabi’s dance their famous Bhangra dance till they get exhausted. Then they sit down and eat the sumptuous food that is specially prepared for the occasion. In Gujarat, Sankrant is observed more or less in the same manner as in Maharashtra but with a difference that in Gujarat there is a custom of giving gifts to relatives. The elders in the family give gifts to the younger members of the family. The Gujarati Pundits on this auspicious day grant scholarships to students for higher studies in astrology and philosophy. This festival thus helps the maintenance of social relationships within the family, caste and community. Kite flying has been associated with this festival in a big way. It has become an internationally well-known event. In Kerala,the forty days anushthana by the devotees of Ayyappa ends on this day in Sabarimala with a big festival. Many tribals in our country start their New Year from the day of Sankrant by lighting bonfires, dancing and eating their particular dishes sitting together. In Assam, the festival is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu.In the coastal regions, it is a harvest festival dedicated to Lord Indra.In Bihar, State of India,the day begins with bathing in the holy rivers and offering Prayers to Lord Shiva and later, Chura, dahi & Tilkut ( fried rice,Curd and Lentil made sweet) are taken as delicious lunch and during night, Khichari is taken as delicious dinner..It is the day to rejoice and pay our humble obeisance to our Almighty God and ancestors and worship Sun God.
.Eas Pethaperumaal :