Festivals - Makara Sankranti
Date: January 14; According to the lunar calendar, the sun moves
from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. Makara Sankranti
thus marks the commencement of the sun's journey to the Northern Hemisphere.
Legend: "You celebrate the Sankranti with a feast, where
you prepare a dish out of green gram, rice and jaggery. The gram is Lord
Vishnu, the rice is His Consort (Sri or Plenty and Prosperity), and the
jaggery is the Principle of Divine Love. So, it is not that dish that
marks the festival, it is the contemplation of the Divine that has to
be established in the wayward mind."
"From this day of the Tropic of Capricorn, Makara Sankramana as
it is called, the Sun appears to move from South to North, and so, this
solstice day is celebrated as an auspicious festival since ages. But,
you are concerned more with your own journey which is nearing its end
with every sunrise.
You yearn to escape the consequences of birth and the aftermath of
death. You desire peace and joy; for this, you have to cleanse the mind
so effectively that it is well-nigh eliminated. This is possible only
when you identify yourself with the Atma rather than with the body which
is the casket of the Atma, earned as a reward for one's activities of
mind and body."
"The day of Sankranti has a special significance. Sankranti means
'Sam' coming together, 'Kranti' means a radical change. The Sun into
Makara Rashi (Tropic of Capricorn) heralds the beginning of a great
change from this day. It marks the entry into a Divine phase. It signifies
the attempt to turn man's mind towards God. It is the day when we pray
to the Sun, who is the presiding deity for the eyes, to direct our vision
to the pure and holy, the sacred and the Divine. The Makara month is
holier than all other months. It is the day when man dedicates his activities
for the higher purpose of attaining Divinity, by following the Northward
path, the Uttarayana, the Nobler path. The Sun Itself is seen
to take it from this day. We have to effect a remarkable, spiritual
transformation in the world on this day. Only then has the observance
of Makara Sankranti a meaning. External changes with no change
in one's outlook and attitude will not signify 'Kranti' (Radical Change)."
Last updated: Jul 17, 2000
Legend and Quotes from Sadhana - The Inward Path, The Significance of the Hindu Festivals, 11-5, p 258 and
Discourse: The World needs Spiritual Transformation, Prashanthi Nilayam, Makara Sankranti, Jan 14, 1985