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Makar Sankranti is one of the important festivals in India which has its roots buried deep into the cultural lifestyle of India. It is usually celebrated in January 14 every year and marks the transition of the Sun into Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. Traditionally, it is one of the harvest days in India.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated across the country in many of the states and each state and region celebrates the festival in its unique ways depending upon the cultural background and location. It is a part of our cultural glory and the urban population living in gated communities or apartments in metros can also celebrate the festival at home.
Significance of Makar Sankranti
Sankranti is a concept rooted in Hindu astrology. It refers to the transmigration of the Sun from one Rāshi (sign of the zodiac) to another. Although there are 12 such sankrantis in all, Makar Sankranti is the most celebrated one. The festival usually takes place 20 days after the Winter Solstice. It marks the starting of ‘Uttarayana’ or the Northward journey of sun. As the traditional Indian calendar is based on lunar positions, dates of all the Hindu festivals keep changing. Since Makar Sankranti is a solar event, its date remains unchanged over a long period.
According to the Puranas, on this day Surya (Sun) visits the house of his son Shani (Saturn). Shani happens to be the lord of the Makar rashi (Zodiac Capricorn). It is also called the starting of day for ‘devatas’ (gods) as Dakshinayana or Sun’s South ward journey is called as the night of the gods. Hence this period is regarded to be auspicious to start anything good.
It occurs in the Hindu calendar in the month of ‘Magha’. Apart from being the biggest harvest festival, Makar Sankranti is regarded as a holy phase. It is a festival of sun god and symbolises fertility, divinity and wisdom.
Rituals in different parts of India
In Andhra Pradesh, the main festivities are celebrated on the second day and it is called Pedda Panduga. People discard old and derelict habits and things and embrace new ones. People wear new clothes, pray to God and offer special food to dead ancestors.
In Assam, it is called Magh Bihu and people make structures of wooden logs and hay and burn it down as an offering to Sun God. Bull fights and bird fights are being organised by people. Cattle are being washed in the river or ponds and community feast is being prepared and enjoyed. Special sweets and dishes are being made with extensive use of seasame seeds and jaggery.
Flying of kites is popular among people especially in Gujarat on the auspicious day. Kites are made of light weight paper and bamboo. In Himachal Pradesh, it is known as Magha Sajaa and people visit neighbours and enjoy ‘khichdi’ together.
In Kerala, Makar Sankranti is celebrated in Sabarimala Temple and millions of devotees visit the the place every year. In Punjab, too, bonfire are light up and celebrated as Lohri. In Tamil Nadu, new boiled rice is offered to the gods and people prepare sweets like vadai, murukku, payasam, etc ans the festival is celebrated as Pongal. People visit and thank their friends and relatives for their support in harvest.
Makar Sankranti in your apartment
You can celebrate festivals in apartment with all the spirits and traditions. Based on your cultural tradition and ethnicity, you can celebrate Makar Sankranti in your apartment community. You can prepare the traditional meals and sweets and involve all the members of your family to prepare the grand meal. You can invite friends and family members for lunch and dinner and enjoy the day with them.
It is a nice time to get closer to your neighbours in the apartment community and all the residents can celebrate the festival together. You can organise a community meal and every resident can contribute towards the community meal. It can be followed up with different competitions to make the bond stronger among the residents. Kite flying competition and sweet making competition can be held; which will be helpful to bring in the community feeling in the apartment.