Makar Sankranti 2024: Date, Significance And Rituals To Know

The first festival of 2024 is almost here and India is gearing up to honour the occasion of Makar Sankranti. The festival this year falls on Monday the 15th of January, a slight difference from the regular observance on the 14th. According to the Vedas, Sankranti denotes the Sun's transition from one zodiac constellation to another. There are 12 Sankrantis annually, and among them, Makar Sankranti, also known as 'Poush Sankranti,' holds particular significance. This Hindu festival aligns with the solar cycle and signifies the commencement of the harvest season. It also takes different forms in various states, in Punjab it’s celebrated as the harvest festival of Lohri the day before, in Assam, it is known as Magh Bihu, while Tamil Nadu observes it as Pongal, and Karnataka refers to it as Ugaadi.

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Rituals Of Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti carries both religious and seasonal importance, as it marks the Sun's shift from the Southern to the Northern hemisphere, officially concluding Winter. Observing this occasion involves waking up before sunrise and bathing in the water of the Ganges or taking a bath, and adding a small quantity of Sesame Seeds to the bathing water for a positive start. Following the bath, offering prayers to the Sun through the recitation of the Gayatri Mantra and performing Argya, which involves offering water to the Sun, is recommended. It’s also well-known as a kite flying festival where children and adults both delight in the practice. Traditionally, kite-flying during Makar Sankranti has roots in promoting good health, encouraging exposure to the first light of the early morning sun and absorbing Vitamin D.

Food Traditions Of Makar Sankranti

Since it coincides with the harvest, Makar Sankranti encourages the consumption of freshly harvested grains, which are first offered as prasad to deities and also consumed as part of festive fare. Things like sesame and rice are central to the dishes of the day and are made into a number of sweet and savoury items. Til laddoos, puran poli, khichdi and pongal are some of the favoured staples in different parts of the country. Khichdi especially provides essential winter nutrition and symbolises unity, being cooked in a single pot with freshly harvested rice, lentils, seasonal vegetables, and spices.

The day is full of joy, food and celebration of the harvest and rings in a New Year with a hoe of bountiful things to come.