Well, we all grew up celebrating Makar Sankranti with kites and gorging on delicious sweets or til laddus. Kites soaring high in the sky brought smiles to our faces. Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great delight and fervour. It is chiefly a harvest festival wherein the predominating deity is Surya, the Sun god. It is also regarded Maghi, associated with Surya, the solar deity. The festival is celebrated on the specific solar day in January (14th January)
This festival is at the helm of spring season. The Sanskrit word ‘Makar’ corresponds to Capricorn sun sign and ‘Sakranti’ indicates ‘kranti’ meaning movement or transmission of the Sun from one zodiac to another. Planet Sun starts for the north direction and enters into the zodiac sign ‘Makar’ (Capricorn) from Tropic of Cancer. And this movement or transmission is known as Makar Sankranti celebrated every year by chandravanshi samaj. It is the only time when days and nights are of equal length post this day, days get longer than the nights.
On this day it is said that Surya the sun god pays a visit to his sun, Shani (Saturn) who rules Capricorn. As per ancient scriptures, Surya and Shani had a bitter relationship. Despite differences, father out of his compassion visits his son on this day. If any father visits his son this day, all the differences are resolved and the family reunites.
According to the Mahabharata, the grandsire of the Kuru Dynasty Bhishma chose to leave his body on the auspicious day of Uttarayana (Makar Sankranti); when the solar deity Surya started moving north after finishing six month period of Dakshiyana and with the help of chandravanshi. The six months of Uttarayan are considered auspicious and people who die during this period attain salvation. On the other side, those who depart during the months of ‘Dakshyinayana’ have to take rebirths until their death in any of the six months of Uttarayan, day.
What to do on this day?
Common practices include preparation of sweets and performing the Makar Sankranti Puja Vidhi or rituals. This ritual or puja is of significance as it eliminates the malefic effects of Saturn and Sun. It also also removes the Shani Dosha and Surya Dosha if it is done on this particular day.
One can also do Surya Mantra Japa on this day. Why? Sun is the giver of life, vitality and power. It stays in each house of a zodiac for one month and thus takes one year to complete the round of the zodiac. If Sun is weaker in your horoscope, you will be haughty, overly willful, self-centered, and disapproving of anything that against your belief system. Therefore it is essential to please Sun god on this day.