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Updated January 13th, 2024 at 20:57 IST

Uttarayan 2024: Date, History, Significance, How Kite Flying Festival Is Celebrated

India is all set to celebrate the 'northward movement of sun' with Uttarayan and here's what significance it holds.

Uttarayan 2024
Uttarayan 2024 | Image:Unsplash
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Uttarayan, rooted in the Sanskrit terms "uttaram" (north) and "ayanam" (movement) signifies the northward journey of the Sun, a phenomenon observed between the winter and summer solstices. In the Gregorian calendar, this translates to the actual movement of the sun concerning the earth occurring roughly from December 20 to January 20.

The heart of this celestial event is celebrated as Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti, a highly anticipated harvest festival in Gujarat.

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Uttarayan | Image: Unsplash

More about Uttarayan

Beyond traditional rituals and delicious sweets, Uttarayan in Gujarat is synonymous with vibrant kite-flying sessions and the joyous cry of "Kai Po Che." This festival goes beyond worship and is a cultural celebration that captures the spirit of the Gujarati people.

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When is Uttarayan 2024?

Uttarayan coincides with Makar Sankranti and will be celebrated on January 15, the day following Lohri. In Gujarat, the subsequent day is known as Vasi Uttarayan or Stale Uttarayan, adding an extended festivity to the cultural calendar. The auspicious Uttarayan Sankranti Moment is slated for 2:54 am, as per drikpanchang.

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Uttarayan | Image: Unsplash

What’s the history of  Uttarayan?

The roots of Uttarayan lie in the Mahabharata which recounts the tale of Bhishma Pitamah, who chose to embrace death during Uttarayana. Blessed with the gift of choosing his death, Bhishma awaited the sun's northward movement. The sun's migration marks the onset of Uttarayana or Winter Solstice which is deemed auspicious in Hindu beliefs.

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What is the religious significance of Uttarayan?

Uttarayan marks the sun's transition into Makara (Capricorn) Rashi (zodiac sign). Hindus believe that those departing during Uttarayana bypass the cycle of rebirth and enter paradise directly. The festival worships Surya, the Sun God.

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Uttarayan | Image: Unsplash

How does the kite flying tradition hold a cultural significance in Uttarayan?

Similar to Thanksgiving in the West, Uttarayan is a time for families to get together and marks the arrival of spring and the harvest season. In Gujarat, kite-flying takes centre stage and attracts enthusiasts from all walks of life. Besides the festivity, kite flying is historically linked to good health aligned with the importance of prolonged sun exposure.

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Published January 13th, 2024 at 20:57 IST

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