The Hindu calendar is based on lunar positions but Sankranti is a solar event. Sankranti is the day when Sun enters a New Rashi / Sign in the Zodiac. Therefore Sankranti keeps coming every month. In total there are 12 Sankranti in a year. Among all Sankranti, Makar Sankranti is the most significant and it is observed throughout India in different names. In Tamil Nadu Makar Sankranti is known as the festival of Pongal. In Rajasthan and Gujarat it is known as Uttarayana and in North India, especially Punjab, Himachal and Haryana Makar Sakranti is known as Lohri / Maghi.
The dates of all Hindu festivals keep changing but the date of Makar Sankranti remains same every year and it is always celebrated on the 14th of January. This festival marks the transit of Sun from the sign of Sagittarius into the sign of Capricorn on its celestial path. As a festival the importance of Makar Sankranti is that it is considered the end of winter season as warmer days can be expected moving ahead.
Astrologically the importance of Makar Sankranti is enormous. Sun is the manifestation of cosmic light in our solar system. Sun is also an important factor in determining spiritual life as it represents the Soul. The ultimate goal of every individual is to evolve with the soul. Sun during these two months will transit the sign ruled by Saturn which is the planet of poverty, hindrances, obstruction and problems. Although Saturn itself possess a higher side from the standpoint of the spiritual life, as its characteristics are discipline, solitude and obedience, the Saturn period is always considered a difficult one.
Astrologically Sun is the father of Saturn, yet they both are inimical to each other and don’t have cordial relationship. It is but natural as Sun represents light while Saturn represents darkness. Therefore where there is light, there will never be darkness. The truth is the nature of both is so contradictory to each other that they will never be together, where Sun denotes ego and domination, Saturn donates service and humility. Where Sun is the King, Saturn is the servant. This period thus teaches us that for spiritual upliftment of the soul the king has to learn to be humble and modest. It is a period of inner conflicts where you try to move away from authority and power and direct your energy towards simplicity and helping others.
The transit of Sun first in Capricorn and later Aquarius put enormous pressure on Sun, as leaving the power, authority and supremacy is not easy. It is likely to bring lack of self-confidence, inner conflicts and no recognition. In today’s world where everyone is running after fame, power and recognition it is a difficult task, but what eventually comes is an opportunity to look inward and to raise yourself to a high level of spiritually in life.
Therefore special prayers and donations are made on this day to keep us moving on the spiritual path. The path of humility, simplicity, charity, modesty and service.
“Happiness comes, not by aimlessly
Thinking about it, but by living it
In all the moods and actions of life”
Swami Paramhansa Yogananda
Things that you can do on Makar Sankranti:
- Donate Black til and Gur in a temple or a needy person
- Awake early in the morning, before sunrise, have bath and be ready with water & flowers for the sunrise. Worshiping the rising Sun, by offering water. Reciting the Surya Mantra.
- If Saturn is creating problem in your life then it is a good day for Saturn Pooja.
- Make donations in orphanage, old age homes.
- Recite Surya Mantra ऊँ भास्कराय नम: 108 times.
- Have the lunch of Khichiri. This stands for inculcating simplicity in your life & habits.