Makara Sankranti is an important pan-Indian harvest festival known by different names in different parts of the country. It is known as Uttarayan or Sankranti in Uttarakhand, Makara Sankranti in Karnataka and Maharashtra, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Magh Bihu in Assam, Magha Mela in parts of central and north India, Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana and Maghara Valaku in Kerala.
Makara Sankranti is dedicated to the Hindu deity Surya (Sun). It is observed each year on the day the Sun enters the Capricorn zodiac marking the end of the month with the winter solstice. With this day, the short winter days start to become longer & the long winter nights start to become shorter. Since it signifies the arrival of longer days it is considered auspicious.
Makara Sankranti is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly people take a holy dip in rivers especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. The bathing is believed to result in absolution of past sins.
Every twelve years (marking one complete revolution of Jupiter around the Sun) the Hindus observe Makar Sankranti with one of the world’s largest mass pilgrimages popularly known as Maha Kumbha. At this event, people pray to the sun god and bathe in the holy River Ganga, a tradition attributed to Adi Shankaracharya.
Makara Sankranti is observed with social festivities such as colorful decorations, fairs, dances, kite flying, bonfires and feasts. The Magha Mela also finds a mention in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
For most parts of the country, this period is a part of early stages of the Rabi agricultural cycle, where crops have been sown and the hard work in the fields is more or less over. The time thus signifies a period of socializing, family gatherings and celebrations around bonfires.
On this day, the animal kingdom is also remembered and fed, in particular, cattle. Cattle being an integral part of vedic farming, people pay their respects by decorating them & feeding them different delicacies.
We at Rescue Ma celebrate this festival every year at Nirvi Gau Sadan by conducting Havan & offering feasts to the cattle.
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