Celebrated with much fervour and excitement across several parts of India, the harvest festival of Makar Sankranti is the first major Hindu festival of the year. Also known as Makara Sankranti, the festival marks the beginning of a new harvest season and the conclusion of the winter season. The day also signifies the first day of the sun’s transition from star sign Dhanu (Sagittarius) to Makar (Capricorn) in the Hindu month of Pausha. The festival is dedicated to the Sun God. This year, it will be celebrated on January 14, 2021.
Although the festival’s cultural significance and names vary geographically, it is celebrated with the same zeal across the country. Makar Sankranti is known as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Pedda Pandaga in Telangana, Makar Sankranti in Karnataka, and Magh Bihu in Assam. The festival is celebrated around the same date every year, January 14, as it is determined as per the solar calendar. People begin the day of Makar Sankranti by taking a dip in rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Krishna, Godavari, and Cauvery, as well as express gratitude to the Sun God Surya. According to Drik Panchang, the time between Makar Sankranti and 40 Ghatis (roughly 16 hours for Indian locations if we consider 1 Ghati duration as 24 minutes) from the time of Makar Sankranti is considered good for auspicious work. This duration of forty Ghatis is known as Punya Kaal.
On January 14, it is the famous ‘Makaravilakku’ or ‘Makarajyothi’ darshan at Sabarimala in Kerala. With just hours left for the Makaravilakku festival to begin at Sabarimala, all arrangements have been completed for the smooth conduct of the event amidst COVID-19 restrictions. Thiruvabharanam, the sacred ornaments of the presiding deity, will be brought to the temple in a procession by Thursday evening, which will be followed by Deeparadhana, sighting of the Makarajyothi, and the Makarasamkrama Puja.