Sankranthi is celebrated in almost all parts of India. Due to diversity in culture and vast geography of India, Sankranthi is celebrated in different ways across India. It depends on location, cultural background, agricultural environment and climate. This is the only Indian festival that falls on January 14 of every year.
There is an astronomical significance for Sankranthi. The Sun moves towards the northern hemisphere and away from the Tropic of Capricorn. India is located at the northern hemisphere of the earth. Because of Sun’s movement towards northern hemisphere, we have more exposure to Sun rays and the temperature will start rising slowly.
Makara Sankranthi is the beginning of harvest season (in Coastal Andhra) and end of northeast monsoon in South India. It is the beginning of spring or harvest season and end of winter season. Especially in some parts of AP like Coastal Andhra, this festival is celebrated on a grand note because, it’s the harvest season for them. In other parts of AP, it’s a regular festival.
The myth of Uttarayana
People say that Sankranthi indicates Winter Solstice – the sun reaches the lowest point in the sky and causes longest night in the year. But in reality, it indicates the Sun’s movement from Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer. In Hindu religion, there is no observance of Winter Solstice. In Indian culture, Sankranthi is a harvest festival and an auspicious phase.
The Sun symbolism
According to the Indian culture, the Sun stands for wisdom, spiritual light and knowledge. The festival signifies that we should move from darkness of delusion to bright light, which is within us and we should shine brighter and brighter in life. We should gradually begin to grow in knowledge, wisdom and purity as the Sun does.
Astrological significance – falls on same day every year
Makara Sankranthi has an astrological significance. On this day the Sun enters the Capricorn sign in zodiac constellation. While the Indian traditional calendar is lunar based, Sankranthi is a solar event. Due to this, all other Hindu festival dates change with respect to Gregorian calendar, but Sankranthi is celebrated on 14 January over a long time.
Three day festival
Sankranthi is celebrated for three days in Andhra Pradesh. The first day is Bhogi, second day is Sankranthi, and the third day is Kanuma.
On the day of Bhogi people discard old things that are in poor condition. At dawn, they light bonfire with logs of wood and other solid fuels.
The disposal of poor or abandoned things signifies that, in the fire of the knowledge, you need to get rid of bad habits and materialistic things. By doing so, it represents purification, transformation and realization of the soul by inculcating good habits and leaving bad habits.
Sankranthi is a harvest festival. Farmers get their crops in this season. It symbolizes for saying thanks and enjoying the benefit for their work. All the food items prepared on this day will be rice based and are prepared using the newly harvested rice.
On Kanuma, cattle and tools that help farmers grow their crops are worshiped. Farmers say thanks to the cattle by treating them well for their help during the year.
Significance of kite flying
Kite flying is observed in various parts of India during this festival. People of all ages participate in kite flying. It is not only enjoyed on Sankranthi day, but several weeks before the festival. Kite flying during this festival has various reasons.
- The wind during this time is not so favorable. On Sankranthi day wind typically changes on all sides in a single day. The external environment should favor and you need to put some effort in order to fly the kite. This implies both Gods will and your pull is required to get things done in life.
- The push and pull of the kite flying represents the tensions of the life. If you can balance it, you will fly higher, if its let loose you cannot fly.
- Like cricket, kite flying is also a performance sport. You will have clear goals and you can clearly know where you went wrong.
- Due to kite flying during winter, body suffers and get infected with dry skin, cold and cough. While flying kite, the body is continuously exposed to the sun light rays. It helps in eradicating most of the allergies and infections.
Especially in cities today where most people work in offices, this is a good time to stay in Sun and boost your vitamin D levels.