MAKAR SANKRANTI –Importance as the 1st important Festival of the Year and its Significance in our Indian culture & traditions and how Rudraksha holds a special place, on this auspicious day of the year.

Makar Sankranti (also known as Makara Sankranthi or Maghi) refers both to a specific solar day in the Hindu calendar and a Hindu festival in reference to the deity Suryadeva(sun) that is observed in January / Magha every year. Its astrological significance and planetary constellation regarding the Rashis (Zodiac Signs) ,marks the first day of sun’s transit into the Makara Rashi ( Capricorn) , marking the end of the month with the Winter Solistice ( Paush)  and the start of longer days .

Makar Sankranth is the first festival that falls in the month of Paush (Dec-Jan) , according to the Hindu calendar and is celebrated as ‘Khichdi’ in the north and central India as well as Sankranti or Sankranth  or Tila Sankranti in many parts of India , is celebrated with much gusto and enthusiasm with traditional preparation and serving , distribution of ‘Til-Gur’ and traditional flying of kites from the morning sunrise to sunset. This day is considered very pious and holy with religious sanctity attached to it as people throughout the country make a beeline to the holy rivers like the Ganges, Yamuna and the Sangam (where the Ganges and the Yamuna River meet) to take a holy dip in these rivers , especially before the rising of the sun in ‘Uttarayan’. Places like Allahabad, Nashik, Ujjain, Haridwar host crores and crores of pilgrims, who flock from the very interiors of the country to the holy ghats of these rivers to take a dip. The holy month of Magh (Jan) according to the Hindu calendar , in fact begins with this date of 14th /15thJanuary and it also marks the first of the many ‘Nahaans’ (Holy Dip Bath or Snaan) and Festivals that continue till the last MahaShivaratri  Day culminating in the holy Magh Mela of Allahabad or Prayag , especially during the Kumbh Mela that is held in either of the four cities as mentioned above after a period of six years in the form of ‘Ardha Kumbha ‘ Or Kumbha Mela , known as the biggest religious congregation or jamboree held a regular interval of twelve years rotating at the four places namely; Allahabad, Hardwar, Ujjain and Nashik, where  a whole township spread in hundreds of acres settles down temporarily in tents and pilgrims from different places of India come to do ‘Kalpawas’ in these tents from Makar Sankranti till the Maha Shivratri Day. Kites are flown on this day and even International Kite Festival is organized on this auspicious day. People greet each other with the blessing of the elders and passing out of ‘Til- Gula’, saying ‘Til Gul Dhya , Gooda, Gooda Bola ‘ signifying a new bond of friendship renewed for life. In fact this culmination of the whole Nahaan Festival beginning from Makar Sankranti , duly culminating in Maha Shivratri Pooja and Nahan(Holy Dip) , which is also considered the best  time for the ‘Dharan of Rudraksha Beads’, according to one’s date of birth and planetary constellations, along with the chanting of the Mantra ‘Om Naham Shivay ‘ numerous times after due purification rituals done by  some competent Panditji or family Purohit. Rudraksha Beads can also be worn on the day of Makar Sankranth , as per Shastra rituals so as to bring in good luck, prosperity, happy family life , good health and wealth to all.

Makar Sankranti is one of the few ancient Hindu festivals that has been observed according to solar cycles, while most festivals are set by the lunar cycle of the Lunisolar Hindu Calendar.  Being a festival that celebrates the solar cycle, it almost always falls on the same Gregorian date every year (January 14), except in rare years when the date shifts by a day for that year, because of the complexity of earth-sun relative movement. The festivities associated with Makar Sankranti are known by various names such as Lohri , celebrated  by the Punjabis and the Sikhs, Sankranth  in Central India, Bhogali Bihu by Assamese Hindus and Pongal by Tamil and other South Indian Hindus.

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