According to our Vedic calendar, there are the appearances of the Sun and the moon planet in the zodiac signs. When Sun enters from one to another Rashi or Zodiac, the event is known as ‘Sankranti. If we try to understand the literal meaning of Makar Sankranti, Makar signifies the astrological sign, ‘Capricorn,’ while Sankranti means ‘transmigration’ or ‘migration’ or ‘transmission’..’
Accordingly, there are 12 Surya Sankranti, but four are of greater significance, namely- Mesha, Karka, Tula, and Makar Sankranti.
On this day, Lord Surya begins His journey northward into the Makara Ras and lasts up to 6 months. Before this, he’s journeying in the southern direction.
Lord Krishna himself mentions about this event in the Bhagavad-gita, that whoever leaves his body in the following six months of Uttarayan, starting on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti, achieves the residence of higher planets, while those who leave their body in the six months of Dakshinayan proceed onto the lower planets. However, every Vedic injunction has an exception. All these rules and regulations are for those who are not the devotees of Lord Krishna. The devotees of the Lord, whether they leave in their body in Uttarayan or Dakshinayan, attain the planet of Lord Krishna only. The reason is, they are always engaged in the loving service of the Lord, from thinking of him always to carrying out every task and duty for him.
The Lord mentions in the Bhagavad-Gita, verse 8.5,
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ
And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains my nature. Of this, there is no doubt.
In conclusion, this directive of Uttarayan and Dakshinayan is only applicable to a soul until the time he surrenders completely unto the lotus feet of Lord Krishna.
Beginning of the day of the demigods:
Our Earth takes one whole circle of the Sun in a year, called ‘Ek Saur Varsh.’ But according to the calculations of the demigods, our one year is equal to one day of them.
The day of the demigods consists of 12 hours of the day and 12 hours of the night. The 12 hours of a day of the demigods’ sets about by this auspicious Makar Sankranti.
The demigods begin their day by bathing and meditating. Hence this day is considered the foremost for charity, bathing on the holy rivers and chanting the names of the Lord.
On this day, Khar Maas comes to an end. In Khar Maas, any auspicious activity is forbidden to be carried out. From this day on, marriage, tonsure (mundane), and thread ceremony begin with great reverence and enthusiasm.
HOW MAKAR SAKRANTI IS CELEBRATED IN INDIA
India is famous for its various delicacies and food items at its festivals, and the most felicitous Makar Sankranti is no exception.
In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Makar Sankranti is known as ‘Khichdi Parva,’ where Lord Surya is worshiped, and Khichdi is eaten and distributed as charity.
In Gujarat and Rajasthan, Makar Sankranti is celebrated by the most colorful kite soaring high in the sky and consuming Gajak.
In Andhra Pradesh, this festival is commemorated for three days.
Whereas in Tamil Nadu, the new harvest of the farmers is honored by the name of Pongola by cooking rice and lentils in ghee and distributed with great enthusiasm.
In Maharashtra, ladoos of til and gud are given out.
It is called Magh Bihu among the people of Assam.
In Punjab, Lohri is observed the night before.
In West Bengal, on the shore of Hoogly River, the festival of Ganga Sagar is commemorated as this was the very day when mother Ganga descended on this earthly planet, after the austere penances performed by King Bhageerath to liberate his ancestors. And if possible, this day should be utilized in bathing in the holy Ganges and offering homage to the ancestors.
ABOUT SURYA DEVA
This time is one of change: seasonal change, time change, and new harvest. The Sun has a direct impact on these three. The presiding Deity of the sun planet, Lord Surya, is of utmost importance as the ‘jivan sadrishyay,’ ‘Jyoti sadrishyay’ to all of us. On this day of Makar Sankranti, Lord Surya embarks the day of the demigods and brings about all auspiciousness for the rest of us. Hence, it’s salient to dwell deeper and know who exactly Lord Surya is.
In the Brahma Samhita, the creator of the universe, Lord Brahma says, ‘The Sun who is the king of all the planets, full of infinite effulgence, the image of the good soul, is as the eye of this world. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda in pursuance of whose order the Sun performs his journey mounting the wheel of time.’
Hence, it is primeval for us to understand that Lord Surya works on the order of Sri Krishna only, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And how does he carry out this duty? By working relentlessly, for the pleasure of the Lord, without taking even a day off.
He unceasingly carries out his respected duty of igniting this world from rising to setting on time like a karma-yogi.
And this most glorious, Surya deva, to acquire the divine knowledge of the self, became a disciple of Lord Krishna.
In the Bhagavad-gita, The Personality of Godhead, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvān, and Vivasvān instructed it to Manu, the father of humanity, and Manu, in turn, instructed it to Ikṣvāku.
HOW SHOULD WE CELEBRATE MAKAR SAKRANTI?
So the most truthful way to celebrate this holiest day of Makar Sankranti would be to worship, chant, and take the shelter in most adoration of the one whose shelter even Lord Surya seeks out. By whose effulgence he illuminates the entire universe.
Who is none other than Lord Sri Krishna?
The most unparalleled way to seek the shelter of Lord Sri Krishna in the age of kaliyuga is to take up the chanting of his holy names.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare.
So it is most beneficial to all of us to understand and learn the real significance of these festivals and celebrate it in the right spirit, coming together to please the Supreme Lord and remain content ourselves.
Makar Sakranti Ki Jai