It seemed like just yesterday that we were ushering in the new year and already it was time for the first festival of the year – Sankranti. And this was special for me since it was the first festival celebration at my parental home after marriage 🙂 It went on well and we wound up by doing a whirlwind tour of Bangalore on the day, for the distribution of the customary ‘eLLu-bella‘ amongst the close relatives 😀
Here’s an excerpt on the significance of this festival:
The Sun moves every month from one sign of the Zodiac (rashi) to the next. Thus, there are twelve Sankrantis in a calendar year. However, the movement of the Sun from the sign of Sagittarius (Dhanu) to Capricorn (Makara) is considered the most auspicious of these twelve Sankrantis and is celebrated as Makara Sankranti. Kranti is a Sanskrit word meaning change. Then what is Sankranti? Samyak kranti iti sankranti, meaning sacred change or a welcome change. Since Capricorn is considered to be a sign of peace and contentment, movement of the Sun into Capricorn is considered a most welcome change and has become popular as Makara Sankranti, or just Sankranti in many places. As the Puranas say, Lord Sun, riding in his 100-spoke single wheel chariot driven by the seven horses, (representing the seven colours of the spectrum), begins his northward journey with the entry into Makara Rashi.
Northward movement of the Sun after entering the sign of Capricorn heralds warmer days, more sunlight, and the arrival of the auspicious uttarayana period. In Hindu calendar, the year is divided into two ayanas (durations), each lasting six months. Dakshina-ayana denotes the six months of southern sojourn of the Sun while uttara-ayana means six months of northern sojourn of the Sun. Bhagavadgita states that people who leave their physical body in uttarayana attain salvation, while those who pass away in dakshinayana will be reborn. Thus, according to the legend of Mahabharata, the mighty warrior Bhishma, felled by Arjuna’s arrows and lying on a bed of arrows, waited for 56 days for the arrival of the auspicious day in uttarayana before he left his body.
According to the Gregorian calendar, Sankranti usually begins on January 14 or 15. In some places in India like Ganga-Sagar in Bengal and Triveni Sangam in Uttar Pradesh, taking dip in holy waters on Makara Sankranti day is considered especially auspicious. Millions of devout Hindus gather here every year to take a holy dip on this day.
I found the salvation and rebirth bit really interesting…
Such an easy way to attain moksha! 😀
Hope all of you had a wonderful Sankranti/ Pongal…
ellaru eLLu-bella tindu oLLEya maatanaaDi!
(thou shall eat the til-jaggery mixture and speak good/ virtuous words – is what it means :))