Makar Sankranti – 14 January, 2017
Time of Uttarayana.
Vedic customs and tradition is greatly based on the lunar movement. Because Sun is an important aspect to a Vaidika (now commonly referred to as a Hindu) as Sun is considered the first ‘visible’ source on whom, life in all forms is dependent. It’s recognition as thus, is expressed as gratitude in various forms of prayers, worships. And many occasions are celebrated keeping this fact in view.
The movements of various planets, the Moon and the Sun have been deeply and accurately studied by the Vaidika thinkers. This has been integrated in life in the form of celebrations as various festivals throughout the year. Keeping the Vaidika goal of Moksha as primary, the festivals were all occasions to celebrate one’s life as a human while not forgetting the main purpose of human existence.
Makar Sankranti is one such festival. The day is considered as an important celestial transition of Sun entering Makar (Capricorn). The transition is called Sankranti. Thus there are 12 Sankrantis in a year. But two are considered important. The Makar Sankranti and the Mesh Sankranti (Sun entering Aries) also called Baisākhi, falling in April. Amongst these two also, Makar Sankranti is more widely celebrated with different names in almost all the States throughout India.
Makar Sankranti marks the time of the year with longer days, smaller nights. This phase is called the Uttarayana – the time when the Sun is appearing to move Northward, towards Uttara. Longer days represents more day time for performing the essential deeds for one’s upliftment towards the higher direction (symbolically Uttara means upwards). Thus, the festival marks the time when the seasons will allow more conduciveness to Man to get out of his lethargy and indolence (which the preceding seasons may have predisposed) and engage in activities which will hasten him towards his goal of Moksha. It is also symbolically significant as the Harvest time which means material benefits as well. How you have utilised your time last year, you Harvest it now and begin sowing new seeds for another Harvest, or the Harvest you desire (amongst Artha, kāma and Dharma purusharthas).
Celebrated variously throughout, a serious student of Vedanta, will use this time to reinvoke his efforts for knowing Brahman. Which Sun symbolises as ever effulgent light, the dispeller of darkness (ignorance). Through Śravana -Manana-Nidhidhyasana. And the festival brings the opportunity to engage in such karmās as Dana (of various kinds) to the deserving people, Japa, Tapas And the Sun worship in the form of Chanting the Gayatri Mantra to resolve within to live a more ‘conscious and brilliant a life’ as the ‘Sun’ does. It then also offsets any misdoings or wrong -doings that may have been done unconsciously during the time just gone. And so Lohri precedes Sankranti. Burn away, physically and mentally all your past non essential collections, to begin afresh the next day.
Wishing everyone beforehand so that we can start the day fresh with knowledge.
Harihi Om Tat Sat! 🙏