On January 14 the
sun enters the rashi Capricorn. This is known as Makar Sankranti.
Sankranti means the entry of the sun from one zodiac to another.
Eighty years ago, this event fell
on 12th or 13th January. In the future it will progress to 15th,
16th and so on. From the south the sun shifts northwards, Hence
the day is also known as Uttarayan. Daylight hours increase from
this day. The actual sankranti occurs in an extremely short period.
The sun's sankranti also occurs in
other rashis, as do other planets. However only the sun's sankranti
into Makar is considered auspicious and meritorious. According
to Jaimini rishi, 12 hours and 46 minutes pre-and-post sankranti
are considered sacred. During this time-span, the cow, edible
food, money, vehicles, clothes, flowers or grass are donated to
Brahmins, the poor and ascetics; resulting in infinite punya(merits).
'Uttar path' - the north is considered redemptive - the path to
mukti while the south is Lord Yama's path (king of Hell). The
south symbolises mundane life - 'bhautikvaad.' It is the path
of spiritual degradation. The north is the path of spirituality
During Makar Sankranti it is a tradition for thousands of pilgrims
to bathe in Prayag, at the confluence of three sacred rivers;
Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, known as Triveni Sangam. In south
India, the eve of Makar Sankranti is known as 'Bhogi.' All the
waste bric-a-brac in the house is heaped in the front and burnt.
Makar Sankranti is also known as Pongal. 'Pongal' means 'to overflow.'
Rice is cooked in milk and the rice is allowed to flow over the
rim. The symbolism is that one's home should brim with wealth.
In Gujarat grain from the new harvest
is used to cook 'khichdo'. Cows and trees are also offered pujan
since man's existence depends on them. People forget and forgive
ill will. For this, they ritually offer each other food balls
made of sesame seed and jaggery. This is common in Maharashtra
too. In east India, at Gangasagar, thousands of pilgrims throng
to Kapil Muni's ashram on this day for darshan.
Adults, children, even aged men and
women, spiritedly fly kites all day.
Swamishri celebrated Joli utsav in
Jamnagar, Gujarat.( Click