Importance of Makar Sankranti (15th January)

Which God is worshipped on Makar Sankranti ?

  • This is the biggest festival of the Sun God.
  • Life cannot be imagined in the absence of the Sun, which is the only aspect that makes life energetic and gives its bright light for survival of life. This day is most important to also worship Shri Vishnu and Shri Mahalakshmi.

1. Tithi of Makar Sankranti (15th January)

Unlike other Hindu festivals, Makar Sankranti is not dependent on the position of the moon, but on the position of the sun. On this day, the sun enters the Zodiac sign of Capricorn. To compensate for the difference that takes place due to the revolution around the sun, sometimes the day of Sankranti is postponed by one day. This year, Makar Sankranti is on 15th January 2023.

2. History of Makar Sankranti

Sankranti is considered to be a Deity. According to a legend, Sankranti killed a demon named Sankarasur. The day followed by Makar Sankrant is called Kinkrant or Karidin. On this day, the female Deity (Devi) slayed the demon Kinkarasur.

3. Importance of Makar Sankranti

The Sun’s northward movement begins from the day of Makar Sankranti. The period from Karka Sankranti (passage of the sun into the zodiac sign of Cancer) to Makar Sankranti is called Dakshinayan. As given in Hindu Scriptures, a person who dies in the Dakshinayan period has a greater chance of going to Yamalok (Southward region), than the one who dies during Uttarayan (Northward revolution).

The date of winter solstice changes gradually due to the Axial precession of the Earth, coming earlier by approximately 1 day every 80 years. Hence, if Makar Sankranti at some point of time did mark the day after the actual date of winter solstice, a date in mid-January would correspond to around 300 CE, the heyday of Indian mathematics and astronomy.

A. Makar Sankranti’s importance from the perspective of spiritual practice : From sunrise to sunset on Makar Sankranti, the environment has more Chaitanya (Divine consciousness); hence, those who perform spiritual practice in this period can benefit more from it.

4. How to celebrate Makar Sankranti ?

A. Benefit of highest merit acquired by a Holy dip on the day of Makar Sankranti : The time from sunrise to sunset on Makar Sankranti is auspicious. A Holy dip during this period has special significance. Those who take a Holy dip in the Rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krushna and Kaveri at the Holy places situated on their banks acquire the highest merit.

B. Importance of making an offering during the auspicious period : The period from Makar Sankranti to Rathasaptami is an auspicious period. Any donation and meritorious deeds performed in this period is more fruitful.

B1. Substances offered on Makar Sankranti : Typically, during these days, an offering is made of new vessels, clothing, food, sesame seeds, pot of sesame seeds, jaggery, a cow, a horse, gold or land depending on one’s capability.

B2. What should be ideally gifted ? : Instead of materialistic objects such as soap, plastic items, etc., items complementary to Spirituality, such as incense-sticks, ubtan (Herbal powder), Religious and Spiritual texts, pictures of Deities, CDs on spiritual topics, etc. should be gifted.

5. Use of white sesame seeds

Maximum use of white sesame seeds is made during the Sankranti festival. For example, bathing with water containing sesame seeds and eating and distributing sesame balls (A sweet made from sesame seeds and jaggery), offering sesame seeds to Brahmans, lighting lamps of sesame oil in a temple of Deity Shiva. Pitru Shraddha (Rite for the departed ancestors) is performed in which black sesame seeds are offered.

A. Importance of sesame seeds

A1. Use of sesame seeds eliminates sins : As per Hindu Scriptures, those who apply sesame seed oil and ubtan (Herbal powder applied before bathing) to the body, bathe in water mixed with sesame seeds, drink water mixed with sesame seeds, perform a Yajna, offer sesame seeds and similarly use them, are liberated of all sins.

A2. Importance according to Ayurveda : Since Sankranti falls in winter, consuming sesame seeds is beneficial.

A3. Importance according to Spirituality

1. Since sesame seeds have a higher ability to absorb and emit vibrations of the Sattva component, consuming sweets made from these helps improve spiritual practice. Distributing these sweets leads to exchange of the Sattva component.

2. Using black sesame seeds in the Shraddha rites prevents demons from creating obstacles during the rites.

6. Forbidden acts

During the period of Sankrant, talking harshly, cutting trees or grass and acts that provoke sexual urges should be avoided.

On the day of Makar Sankranti, little children and married women should not wear black clothes. Black is not only considered inauspicious in Hindu Dharma, but according to the science of Spirituality, it is known to attract vibrations of the Tama component from the environment. Thus, wearing black can cause distress to the individual who wears black clothes.

Since no Scripture substantiates the claim that one should wear black clothing on Makar Sankranti or that wearing black clothing is allowed on this day, do not wear black clothing on Makar Sankranti.

7. Do not fly kites

Today, when the Nation and Dharma are in peril, flying kites for the sake of entertainment, especially on Makar Sankranti, is akin to ‘Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned’.

If the time spent on flying kites is used for the development of the Nation, it will make the Nation progress faster; and if used for spiritual practice and missions related to Dharma, society and the people will benefit.

(Ref.: Hindu Scriptures and Sanatan’s Text – ‘Appropriate method and science in celebrating Holy festivals’)

If the time spent on flying kites is used for spiritual practice and serving the Nation & Dharma, the people will benefit !