Makar Sankranti is a festival celebrated in India to mark the sun’s movement into the zodiac sign of Capricorn. Geographically, it signifies the end of winter and the beginning of longer days as the sun shifts its position.

In simple geographical terms, Sankranti refers to the movement of the sun from one zodiac sign to another. The term is often used to mark the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn, known as Makar Sankranti. This transition signifies changes in seasons, specifically the end of winter and the beginning of longer days. Sankranti, therefore, has both astronomical and geographical implications, indicating shifts in the Earth’s position in relation to the sun and the resulting impact on weather patterns.

Symbol of Light and Knowledge: The Sun is a symbol of light and knowledge in Hinduism. Its rays are considered to dispel darkness, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. The movement of the Sun is symbolic of the triumph of light over darkness.

Makar Sankranti is celebrated under various names across India, reflecting the cultural diversity of the country. It is known as Makara Sankranti in Kerala, Magh Bihu in Assam, Maghi Saaji in Himachal Pradesh, Maghi Sangrand in Punjab, Maghi Sangrand or Uttarain (Uttarayana) in Jammu, Sakrat in Haryana, Sakraat in Rajasthan, Sukarat in central India, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Uttarayana in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, Ghughuti in Uttarakhand, Dahi Chura in Bihar, Makar Sankranti in Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Goa. In West Bengal, it is referred to as Poush Sankranti or Mokor Sonkranti, while in Uttar Pradesh, it is also known as Khichidi Sankranti. Uttarakhand calls it Uttarayani, and in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it is simply called Sankranti. Other variations include Maghe Sankranti in Nepal, Songkran in Thailand, Thingyan in Myanmar, Mohan Songkran in Cambodia, Til Sakraat in Mithila, and Shishur Senkrath in Kashmir. On Makar Sankranti, worshippers across India pay homage to Surya, the Hindu solar deity, alongside Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi.

Makar Sankranti, celebrated in various parts of India, holds significance from both health and social perspectives.

Makar Sankranti from Health Point of View

Harvest of Seasonal Crops: Makar Sankranti marks the end of the winter solstice and the beginning of longer days. The festival is closely associated with the harvest season, and the consumption of freshly harvested crops during this time contributes to the intake of nutritious, seasonal foods.

Sun Exposure and Vitamin D: As Makar Sankranti is a solar festival, people traditionally spend time outdoors and bask in the sun. This exposure is beneficial for health as it allows the body to naturally synthesize vitamin D, which is crucial for bone health and overall well-being.

Traditional Foods: Many traditional dishes prepared during Makar Sankranti are made with sesame seeds, jaggery, and other ingredients that offer nutritional benefits. For example, sesame seeds are rich in essential minerals, and jaggery is a natural sweetener with potential health benefits.

Physical Activity: Kite flying, a popular activity during Makar Sankranti, involves physical movement and outdoor engagement. This promotes physical activity and social interaction, contributing to a healthier lifestyle.

Makar Sankranti from Social Point of View

Community Bonding: Makar Sankranti is often celebrated with community gatherings, where people come together to fly kites, share meals, and participate in various festivities. This promotes social bonding, unity, and a sense of community.

Cultural Traditions: The festival is celebrated in diverse ways across different regions of India, showcasing the richness of cultural traditions. People engage in rituals, wear traditional attire, and participate in customs that strengthen their cultural identity.

Symbolism of Unity: The act of flying kites during Makar Sankranti is not only a recreational activity but also symbolizes overcoming challenges and soaring to new heights. This symbolism fosters a spirit of optimism, resilience, and unity within communities.

Generosity and Sharing: Makar Sankranti emphasizes sharing and generosity. People exchange sweets, fruits, and traditional dishes with neighbors, friends, and family, fostering a sense of goodwill and communal harmony.

Environmental Awareness: The festival often incorporates elements of environmental consciousness, with an emphasis on eco-friendly celebrations. Many communities organize events to raise awareness about the environment and promote sustainable practices.

Makar Sankranti holds multifaceted importance from both health and social perspectives. It not only contributes to physical well-being through the consumption of nutritious foods and outdoor activities but also fosters community spirit, cultural richness, and environmental awareness. The festival serves as a holistic celebration that aligns with the interconnected aspects of individual and communal health and well-being.