Celebrated In: India in Winter Season
Celebrated By: Maheshwari Community (Hindu)
Makar Sankranti festival, unlike other Hindu festivals, is not dependent on the position of the moon, but on position of the sun. On this day, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn. To compensate for the difference that occurs due to the revolution around the sun, every eighty years the day of Sankrantiis postponed by one day. In the present period Makar-Sankrantifalls on 15th January.
Sankranti is considered a Deity. According to a legend Sankranti killed a demon named Sankarasur. The day followed by Makar Sankrantis called Kinkrant or Karidin. On this day, the female deity (devi) slayed the demon Kinkarasur.
Information on Sankranti is available in the Panchang: The Panchang (Hindu Almanac) provides information on the form, age, clothing, direction of movement etc. of Sankranti. This information is appropriate to the changes taking place in Her according to time. He who is touched by Goddess Sankranti gets destroyed.
The northward movement of the sun begins on this day. The period from KarkaSankranti(the passage of the sun into the zodiac sign of Cancer) to Makar Sankranti is called the dakshinayan. A person who dies in the dakshinayan period has a greater chance of going to Yamalok (southward region), than one who dies during uttarayan (northward revolution).
Importance from the point of view of spiritual practice: On this day, from sunrise to sunset, the environment has more chaitanya (Divine conscious-ness); hence those doing spiritual practice can benefit from this chaitanya.
1. Benefit of highest merit acquired by a Holy dip on the day of Makar Sankranti: The time from sunrise to sunset on Makar-Sankrantiis auspicious. A Holy dip during this period carries special significance. Those who take a Holy dip in the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krushna and Kaveri at the Holy places situated on the banks of these rivers acquire the highest merit.
2. Offering: Importance of making an offering during an auspicious period: The period from Makar Sankranti to Rathsaptami is an auspicious period. Any donation and meritorious deeds in this period prove more fruitful.
Substances offered: An offering of new vessels, clothing, food, sesame seeds, pot of sesame seeds, jaggery, a cow, a horse, gold or land should be made depending on the capability. On this day, married women also make some offering. They take things from unmarried girls and give them sesame seeds and jaggery in return. Married women organise a ceremony of haldi-kumkum (applying vermilion and turmeric to the forehead) and gift articles to other married women.
3. Importance of haldi-kumkum ceremony performed by married women on sankranti : Performing haldi-kumkum (Turmeric powder and saffron) ceremony is in a way invoking the waves of dormant Adi-shakti in the Universe to get activated. This helps in creating impression of Sagun (Materialised) devotion on the mind of an individual and enhances his bhav (Spiritual emotion) unto God.
3 A. Steps in haldi-kumkum ceremony
3 A 1. Applying haldi-kumkum : Applying haldi-kumkum to a suvasini (A married woman whose husband is alive) activates the dormant Principle of Sri Durgadevi in her and bestows well-being to the applier suvasini.
3 A 2. Applying perfume : Fragrant particles emitting from the perfume please the Principle of the Deity and bestow well-being to the applier suvasini within a shorter period.
3 A 3. Sprinkling rose-water : The fragrant waves emitted by the rose-water activate the waves of the Deity and purifies the environment, and the suvasini who sprinkles it gets greater benefit of the activated Sagun Principle of the Deity.