Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival that is celebrated in India and Nepal to mark the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn). The festival typically falls on January 14th each year making as the first Hindu festival of the year.
In this article, we are going to talk about the first Makar Sankranti Celebration and from where the tradition of flying kites came into existence. Read on to know in-depth knowledge about the origin of Makar Sankranti, who celebrated it first, the tradition of flying kites, how people celebrate, and two legends attached to it.
Origin of Makar Sankranti and why it is celebrated?
Makar Sankranti is an ancient Hindu festival that marks the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn). The festival has been celebrated for thousands of years, and its origins can be traced back to ancient Vedic texts.
According to Hindu mythology, Makar Sankranti marks the day when the god Surya (the sun) begins its northward journey, known as the Uttarayana, and returns to the northern hemisphere. This marks that the winter solstice has passed, and longer days are already beginning.
The exact date of the first celebration of Makar Sankranti is not known, but it is believed to have been celebrated for thousands of years. The festival is mentioned in several ancient texts such as the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Mahabharata, and it is considered to be one of the most ancient festivals in the Indian subcontinent.
At the festival, people honour the Sun God. They also take baths in holy rivers like the Ganga, Yamuna, & Godavari in an effort to atone for their past misdeeds.
The majority of people exchange & give “Jaggery” (molasses) & “Til”(sesame seeds) on the day of Makar Sankranti to each other giving blessings. Sesame-seed-based desserts are considered to have “satvic” elements.
Who celebrated it first?
It is not clear who specifically celebrated the Makar Sankranti festival first. The festival is an ancient one and it is believed to have been celebrated for thousands of years by the Hindu communities in India and Nepal.
These texts were passed down by oral tradition and were eventually written down by ancient Indian scholars, so it’s difficult to know who celebrated them first. The festival is believed to have been celebrated by ancient Indian communities and the tradition has been passed down through generations.
A tradition of Flying Kites:
This tradition is believed to have originated in Gujarat, India, where kite flying is a popular pastime and people gather to fly kites on the rooftops of their houses. The celebration of Makar Sankranti and the tradition of flying kites are closely linked, with the Kite flying also believed to symbolize the ascent of the sun and the end of the winter solstice.
The kites are flown to celebrate the longer days and the coming of spring. It is a way of expressing joy and gratitude for the sun’s return and the start of the new year.
People fly kites during the Makar Sankranti festival to mark the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) which is the start of the longer days, and the end of the winter solstice. The festival is also associated with the god Sankranti, who is believed to have given the festival its name.
It’s also worth noting that kite flying is a way of bringing families and communities together, and it’s a fun and joyful activity that allows people to bond and celebrate the coming of the new year.
How do people Celebrate Makar Sankranti all over India?
Celebrations of Makar Sankranti go under a variety of identities based on culture and language. For instance, it is preceded by Lohri and is known as Maghi by Sikhs and Hindus in North India. Makara Sankranti is the name given to it in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, West Bengal, and Telangana.
There are several other names for it, including:
- Sukarat in Central India,
- Magh Bihu in Assam
- Khichdi in Uttar Pradesh
- Uttarayanan in both Gujarat and Rajasthan,
- Thai Pongal or Pongal in Tamil Nadu, etc.
People worship the Sun God, take holy baths in revered pools of water, practice almsgiving to the poor, fly kites, bake sesame and jaggery sweets, worship livestock, and pray for abundant crops during the festival.
The two Legend Associated with Makar Sankranti:
According to folklore, a devil by the name of Sankarasur used to arbitrarily torture and murder people on Earth. Upon hearing this, Devi Sankranti flew to Earth and battled the demon in a bloody fight before killing him.
Makar Sankranti, which is observed to commemorate the defeat of Sankrasura, hence takes its name from Devi Sankranti. Devi killed another demon named Kinkarasur the following day. As a result, the day after Makar Sankranti is often referred to as Karidin or Kinkrant.
Another mythology connects Makar Sankranti to the Mahabharata epic. During the Kurukshetra War, Bhishma Pitamah, the supreme leader of the Kaurava army, was struck by arrows and endured pain till the start of Uttarayan and I n the Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti time, he obtained moksha.
Hence, Hindus believe that persons who pass away on Makar Sankranti are not reincarnated but instead obtain Moksh (salvation).