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Makar Sankranti

festival of Prayers to the Sun

 Sun is considered as lord. Praying to the sun is even mentioned in the holy books too. This tradition seems to be in vogue since the time of 'Rigveda'. In one such holy book by the name of 'Bhavisyvetta Puraan' it was mentioned that a sun temple was made by 'Shamb' the son of 'Krishna' and 'Jaamvati'. Makar Sankranti is considered the best day to offer any form of sacrilege.

"The Sun Lord is prayed in many a civilizations. 
And praying to him is a tradition in many East- Asian countries…"

There are a total of 12 sun signs or moon signs. The day on which Sun shifts from one sign to other is known as 'Sankranti'. Sun stays in every sign for about 30 days, the time period of Sankranti is that time in which Sun is in between the two signs. This small time is considered as the best time for holy baths, meditation and sacrilege. Cancer (kark) and Capricorn (Makar) are two important signs as these two have 6 months in between them. On Makar Sankranti Sun enters into the north side from south (Uttarayan) and on Kark Sankranti Sun moves into the south side from north (Dakshinayan). When Sun enters into the north side it is considered to be one day of the GODS and when it enters into the south side the GODS get one night. Kark Sankranit falls in the month of July (Aashaadh) and Makar Sankranti comes on 14th of January. From this day on, the crocodile of Makar Sankranti starts swallowing the cold as Sun Lord enters into the north.

"The day on which Sun shifts from one sign to other is known as 'Sankranti'…
…Sun stays in every sign for about 30 days, the time period of Sankranti is that time in which Sun is inbetween the two signs. "

The dignity of this time is well explained in the Sanskrit Literature to Modern books. In the vedic books it is also termed as 'Devyaan' and scholars wish to leave their physical bodies in this time itself. As per beliefs, the departing souls would then travel through the world governed by Sun through the enlightened path. Eternal bachelor Bhism Pitamaah waited on his arrow bed till this day to leave his physical body. And hence the leaders of the Aryans declared it as a festival, the date on which Sun travels to the north. It is a tradition to consume sweets made of sesame and molasses, as sesame and molasses gives energy to the body. It is also known as 'Khichdi' in Uttar Pradesh, women from Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujrat apply turmeric and saffron on this day and in the south of India it is known as 'Pongal'. Sun is also considered as an eye of Lord Varuna (Water) and as per a belief Sun has many children (Daughters and Sons). It is said that 'Sangya' the daughter of 'Vishwkarma' is his primary wife and from her he had son 'Yama' and daughter 'Yamuna'. His second wife named 'Chaya' who gave birth to lord 'Shani' and daughter 'Taapti'.

Monkey King 'Sugreev' and the sacrilege king 'Karna' belonged to his lineage only. 'Garuda' the king of birds elder brother 'Arun' is considered to be the charioteer of Sun's chariot which is driven by 7 horses. These 7 horses represent the 7 colours of light, Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red, which form the sunlight. The summer starts to descend from this day onwards, the days start to expand and night starts to diminish. The 'Hemant Kritu' terminates here and the climate changes slowly, 'Shishir Kritu' continues for some more time until the 'Basant Kritu'. It is a tradition to take baths in the holy rivers and to offer sacrilege.And in the same context, this festival is being celebrated in the 'Gorakhnath Temple' in Gorakhpur (UP - Uttar Pradesh). A tradition in the same context is famous since ages on this day.

In the medicinal science internship sesame, oil and cotton are described as the opposing factors of cold and sesame is the main one out of the three. And hence in the holy books the importance of using sesame in all its forms has been explained and it is also termed as piacular (Paapnashak). Tilsnaayi tilodwartee tilhomi tilodkee| Tilbhook tildata ch ssttilah paapnaashnaah|| Bathing with sesame added water, using sesame paste on body, offering sesame to fire (hawan) and god, eating sesame, and offering sesame as sacrilege are known as the six piacular uses of it. On the festival day, sweets made of sesame and molasses or sugar also known as 'Tilwe' are donated or distributed amongst close friends. In Maharastra on this day a pudding named 'Tilgul' is distributed traditionally and blessed women and girls present their friends with turmeric, auspicious thread, sesame and molasses. Since ages even Greeks used to distribute sesame sweets for having grand kids.

This further confirms the traditional use of sesame with importance and its properties for long. Romans also used to distribute fig, date and honey on this holy day. This also indicates the age old tradition of world wide celebrations on 'Makar Sankranti' as a global festival.

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