Makar Sankranti, a harvest festival, is popular throughout India mainly because of the kite flying and the delicious sweet called tilgul that is distributed on this day. But this Indian festival has more to it than meets the eye! This festival is celebrated as a way of showing happiness for the new crop and people in villages celebrate it with much gusto. While it is known by different names in different regions of India and countries of the world, it is still the same festival celebrating the Sun’s journey towards the zodiac sign Capricorn. For instance, while in Maharashtra it is called Makar Sankranti, it is called Uttarayan in Gujarat, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Maghi in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, Maghe Sankranti in Nepal, Songkran in Thailand, etc. Here are the 5 Makar Sankranti facts you should know that make this festival more special and fascinating
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Makar Sankranti is the only Indian festival that follows the solar calendar. This is why, the date on which this festival falls doesn’t change much. It almost always falls on the 14th of January, with the exception of last year and this year when it falls on the 15th.
The word ‘Makar’ means ‘Capricorn’ in the Indian rashi and ‘Sankranti’ means the movement of the sun from one zodiac sign to another.
According to legend, the Sun God is believed to forget his anger towards his son Shani and visit him. Thus, tilgul is distributed among loved ones and the words “Tilgul ghya aani goad goad bola” (Eat this sweet and speak sweet words) are said to each, so as to bury old fights and start afresh.
Kite flying during Sankranti has a certain significance, too. Since the festival marks the end of the winter solstice, Indians believed that exposing your body to the early morning sun was beneficial to get rid of the bad winter bacteria. Kite flying was just a fun way to get people to go out in the early morning sun!
Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of the Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh. People take a dip in the holy River Ganga as it is widely believed that you will be cleansed of your sins on this day. It is also believed that if you die on Sankranti, you will go straight to heaven!
Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Maharashtra and Gujarat. If you find yourself in Mumbai during this festival, here are some other things to do in Mumbai! Which other facts would you add to this list of the 5 Makar Sankranti facts?