Every year Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the month of January to mark the winter solstice. It is also one of the largely celebrated Hindu festivals of India which is celebrated differently in various cultures but the common practice on the day of Makar Sankranti is flying colourful kites. The festival has its own significance in the Hindu culture and is not only a religious celebration, but also a seasonal observance as the shift of the sun lead to ever-lengthening, longer days.
One of the lesser-known facts about the festival is that it is also referred to as Maghi. Usually, Makar Sankranti is celebrated on January 14 of every year, but in some exceptions, the celebration takes place on January 15, which is the case with 2020.
Makar Sankranti, a.k.a Maghi is a major harvest festival and is dedicated to Surya and also marks the first day of the sun’s transit into Makara (Capricorn). The festival is also commonly known as Uttarayan, as the sun begins its northward journey from the day of Makar Sankranti.
The festival is celebrated across the country, but with different names and traditions. There are several names for the festival depending on the region it is being celebrated in. Some of the examples include Poush sôngkrānti in Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Telangana, Sukarat in central India, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Magh Bihu in Assam.
On the fay of the festival, devotees take a holy dip in several rivers which are considered holy which comprise Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery. They believe that doing so will wash away their sins and it is also considered a time of peace and prosperity and many spiritual practices are conducted on this day. After a span of every 12 years, the Kumbh Mela also takes place, along with Makar Sankranti, and is one of the world’s largest mass pilgrimages.