Makar Sankranti

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Cultural celebrations are held across many states of India under different names – Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu, etc. on January 14.

About the Makar Sankranti

  • It marks the Sun changing directions and shifting its trajectory towards the north, therefore, entering the Makara or Capricorn zodiac sign.
  • The day is a marker for a change of season – warmer months are close and we are moving away from winter, which is seen as a period of inactivity in many ways.
  • It is said that the northward journey of the sun (Uttarayan) begins on this day.
  • Unlike most festivals that follow the lunar cycle, Makar Sankranti follows the solar cycle and thus, is celebrated almost on the same day every year.
  • Astronomically, the Earth revolves around the Sun in an elliptical orbit that requires about 365 1/4 days to complete, as it continues to rotate on its own axis.
  • The earth’s spin axis is tilted with respect to its orbital plane. This, along with its distance from the Sun, determines the change in seasons for life on Earth.
  • For the Northern Hemisphere, the axis points most toward the sun in June (specifically around June 21), and away from the sun around December 21.
  • This corresponds to the Winter and Summer Solstice (solstice is Latin for “the sun stands”). For the Southern Hemisphere, this is reversed.”
  • It is also called as –
    • Paush Parbon in Bengal
    • Pongal in Tamil Nadu,
    • Uttarayan in Gujarat,
    • Bhogali Bihu in Assam,
    • Lohri in Punjab and Jammu,
    • Makar Sankramana in Karnataka,
    • Saen-kraat in Kashmir.
  • Khichdi Parwa in parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Q1) What is a solstice?

A solstice is an event that occurs when the Sun reaches its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere.

Source: Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Lohri and more: Significance of these festivals, celebrated across India