Saturday, January 13, 2007

Makar Sankrant: First Hindu Celebration of Year

India is known as the country of festivals and Hindus are masters of not only giving the religious touch but also the glamorous feeling to each and every community celebration. The only Hindu festival that falls on a fix date of solar calendar year i.e. on the 14th January.

Our present science has recognize importance of Sun for human life and other livings on the earth only few centuries back but as the Hindus were succeeded for that many centuries back hence they have dedicated this festival to Sun and started worship of sun as the God. In fact this festival is celebrated to mark the transition of Sun from zodiac sign Dhanu [Sagittarius] into the zodiac sign Makar [Capricorn], from this day Sun’s journey in north is started and eventually the day [our six months] of Devtas [Gods] starts hence this is also known as Uttrayan or Devayana. Due to this reason among the all twelve transitions of Sun this transition is rated most important. Hindu Masters were full of wisdom in behavior hence they started a tradition of relating cosmetic events with day to day life in the form of festivals so that not only the life of common people become cheerful but also they learn the importance of values for human life. Makar Sankrant is the festival which is celebrated through out the India in various form just as

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar : “Khichiri” word is used for this festival. The day also marks the beginning of “Magh Mela” one month long celebration.

South India: Mainly as the “Pongal” and for the formers it holds importance even more than Deepavali. Formers prepare a dish from rice, pulses, Ghee [Oil] and milk and present to family deity and God Sun as offering. In the Karnataka people prepare a special dish “Ellu” from coconut and sesame seeds and greet each other “Ellu bella thindu, Olle Maathu Aadu” [Eat sesame seed and speak only God].

Maharashtra: On this day people exchange Tilgud a sweet dish prepared from the Til [sesame seeds] and Gud [Jaggery] though in the modern days Gud is replace by sugar. Similarly traditional words “Tilgud Ghiya Aain Gaud Gaud Bola” [Take Tilgud and speak sweet] are slowly become irrelevant in the noise of “Take Sweet and Be Sweet”. Traditionally married women get together are held “Haldi Koonkoon” with the exchange of utensils and good wishes for the life of husbands.

Punjab: Celebrated as “Maghi” but actual celebrations starts from the day before, celebrated as “Lohari” a place for fire is prepared and all the people start traditional dance “Bhangara and Gida” around this fire place till late night.

In the Assam the festival is celebrated as “Bhogali Bihu” where as in the Gujrat the festival is celebrated almost on the style of Maharashtra. Many tribal celebrate this day as the beginning of New Year especially Bhuya tribal of Orrisa arrange Magh Yatra where house made articles are kept for sale. Kite flying is closely related with this festival and this has giving a touch of International event in the recent years to this Indian festival.

Religious Aspect of the Festival

History reveals that Bhisham Pitamah waited for this day on the arrow bed for death as on this day person who dies get freedom from transmigration. Where as King Bhagirath, whose Tapsaya brought Ganga on earth has performed Trapan [especial worship for Mukati of ancestors] to make free 60,000 sons of Maharaja Sagar from the curse at Ganga Sagar [Place in West Bengal]. On this day Lord Vishnu buried heads of Asurs [evil forces] to end the terrorism caused by them. The most important reason of celebration is visit of father [Sun] to the house of son [Shani], usually this pair of father son doesn’t show the natural affection but on this day father himself come to house of son. Day of [duration equal to our six months] Devtas [Hindu Gods] starts from this day is the other reason because worship must be made in day time.

Socio Economic Aspect of the Festival

This day is treated as end of winter season on this duration of day and night reaches to equality and here onwards day start to become with more duration that provide more time to work in sun light. India’s economy is based on agriculture and Sankrant symbolizes the onset of the harvest season.

This festival brings the lessons of respect for elders, living with simplicity, Friendship and expression of affection of father towards the son. Makar Sankrant stress the value and importance of community living. Kite flying adds fun to the celebrations.

Usually on the day people have bath in the river Ganga or any other river and worship rising sun by offering water and flowers.

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