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Importance of Sankranthi in Hindu Calendar

Sankranti is one of the most important festivals according to the Hindu calendar. It is one of four Pongal festivals, which is dedicated to the Sun God (lord Surya). On this day, people across the Hindu community worship Surya Deva or Sun God. The festival is celebrated across India and also in neighbouring countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

According to the Hindu Calendar, there are twelve Sankranti. However, Makar Sankranti is given the utmost significance among all Sankranti(s).

Origins of Makar Sankranti

On a Makar Sankranti day, the Sun God or Lord Surya enters Makar Rashi. It is also known as Zodiac sign Capricorn in Vedic astrology. Lord Surya or Surya deva is considered as the god who nourishes all living beings on the planet Earth. Hindu calendar also gives significance to Makar Sankranti and promotes religious bath in holy rivers. It is considered as the most auspicious day in the year for worship the Sun God.

Many individuals across Hindu community wrongly believe that the Makar Sankranti is the day of Uttarayana. Uttarayana is an astronomical event, which occurs on the day of winter solstice. However, Makar Sankranti is the festival that coincides with Uttarayana. According to astronomical observations, Sun begins his northern journey that lasts about six months. At the same time, Sun also begins transiting Makara Rashi (Capricorn), which makes the event utmost significant.

A Major Harvest Festival:

Many people across India, especially in Southern parts of the country wrongly assume that Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival. In the ancient times, Pongal was celebrated on January 9, while now in 2016, it falls on January 13. It is a festival that constantly drifts away from winter solstice and after 5000 years from now, it would fall on March 23. In the present time, harvest season, especially in India happens to fall during Makar Sankranti. As a result most people celebrate Pongal as a major Harvest Festival.

Important Notes:

According to Hindu religion, the day next to Makar Sankranti is the day when Lord Krishna Lifted Govardhan Parvata (mountain). Lord Krishna is worshiped on the next day of Sankranti. Apart from Gods and Goddesses, bulls, Cows, Oxen and other live stocks are also worshipped during the festival.

Regional Variance of Pongal or Sankranti:

People across the Hindu community celebrate Makar Sankranti unanimously, especially in India. However, rituals and customs vary depending upon the state or at least language. Makar Sankranti is considered as a common festival in all regional calendars. However, most states have their own name and significance to the festival.

In Tamil Nadu:

In the state of Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti is commonly called as Pongal and it is observered for four days.

In Andhra Pradesh

In Andhra Pradesh Sankranti is the most important festival, especially in coastal region. It is known as Pedda Panduga (local language) and it is celebrated for four days.

In Karnataka

In the state of Karnataka, Sankranti is celebrated as Makar Sankramana.

In Gujarat

Sankranti is celebrated as Uttarayana in the western state of Gujarat.

In Punjab

People of Punjab celebrate Sankranti as Lohri and is celebrated observed only for one day.