Makar Sankranti 

Makara Sankranti is the day when the Sun begins its movement away from the tropic of Capricorn and towards the northern hemisphere and thus it signifies an event wherein the Sun-God seems to remind their children that 'Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya'- may you go higher and higher, to more and more Light and never to Darkness.

To Hindus, the Sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makara Sankranti signifies that we should turn away from the darkness of delusion in which we live, and begin to enjoy a new life with bright light within us to shine brighter and brighter. We should gradually begin to grow in purity, wisdom and knowledge even as the Sun does from the Day of Makara Sankranti.

The festival of Makara Sankranti is highly regarded by the Hindus from north to south. The day is known by various names and a variety of traditions are witnessed as one explores the festival in different states.

Owing to the vast geography and diversity of culture in India, this festival is celebrated for innumerable reasons and in innumerable ways depending on the climate, agricultural environment, cultural background and location. On this day children fly kites.

Makara Sankranti has an astrological significance, as the sun enters the Capricorn zodiac constellation on that day. This date remains almost constant with respect to the Gregorian calendar. However, precession of the earth's axis causes Makara Sankranti to slide further over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makara Sankranti was on 31 December and is now on 15 January. Five thousand years later, it shall be by the end of February, while in 9,000 years it shall come in June.

While the traditional Indian Calendar is based on lunar positions, Sankranti is a solar event. So while dates of all Hindu festivals keep changing as per the Gregorian calendar, the date of Makara Sankranti remains constant over a long term, 15 January. Makara Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha.

Makara Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. Many Indians also conflate this festival with the Winter Solstice, and believe that the sun ends its southward journey at the Tropic of Capricorn, and starts moving northward towards the Tropic of Cancer, in the month of Pausha on this day in mid-January. There is no observance of Winter Solstice in the Hindu religion. Makara Sankranti commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makara in Sanskrit, this occasion is named as Makara Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year. But this year date is 15 January.
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