Makar Sankranti 2024: Celebrations, history and significance

makar-sankranti-2024

With the New Year not too far from knocking on our doors, it is time to get past the Christmas hangover and take a look homeside. Why? Because we have more celebrations coming up!

That is right! The country that never stops celebrating has more cause to break into song and dance in the cold, cold month of January too! And that is where Makar Sankranti comes in.

Celebrated with much gusto and fanfare up north, Makar Sankranti is not actually restricted to the geography of the north. It just has different names in other parts of India. Let us take a deep dive!

What is Makar Sankranti?

Well what is Makar Sankranti but a festival?

Okay, poor man’s philosophy aside, Makar Sankranti is a celebration of the upcoming season of spring. This day officially marks the northward journey of your beloved fireball, the sun, in a northward direction. And that is why you find people celebrating it with bonfires and feasts. Magical, right?

When is Makar Sankranti?

Oh, great question! Before we tell you when Makar Sankranti is, would you like to venture a guess?

For those of you who said January 15, you are right! That is exactly when it is falling in the year 2024. If you said 14th of January, you are not entirely wrong. Most years, Makar Sankranti does fall on this date. However, a difference of a day or two here and there is only normal.

The history of Makar Sankranti explained 

There are many stories about the history of Makar Sankranti. Its origins, supposedly, can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation when sun worship in tandem with fire rituals was extremely common. Still others believe that it has a connection with Indian astronomy and is supposed to coincide with the winter solstice. Mythology has its own spin with the Gita referring to it as Uttarayan, or literally the northward journey of the sun!

Why we celebrate Makar Sankranti

What’s the story, right? After all, every festival has one. And for Makar Sankranti, that story gets quite interesting. And also similar in spirit to many of the other festivals we celebrate in our country.

You see, Makar Sankranti is a festival of gratitude. The sun god is revered and given thanks for being a life-giving energy. Food is something people also express gratitude for during this festival. Apart from it being a celebration of spring of course.

So that is why we celebrate Makar Sankranti in a gist.

How to celebrate Makar Sankranti?

If this is your child’s first Makar Sankranti, you might be wondering about the best ways to celebrate it. And even if it is not, it is quite natural to have the question of ‘how to celebrate Makar Sankranti’ on your mind. After all, curiosity is a persistent and healthy state of the human mind.

Okay, maybe we became too science-y there but back to your question, here is how you can celebrate this spring festival:

  1. Light a bonfire
  2. If there is one thing that makes Makar Sankranti, it is a crackling flame. People gather all around the bonfire, scattering offerings around it while sharing stories and catching up. It truly is a very heart-warming community festival where people get together to share a moment of reverence and warmth in the cold winter months.

  3. Host a feast
  4. Just like any other festival, Makar Sankranti has its own special foods that are to die for! From sweetmeats like gajak and til ka laddoo to khichdi and several other goodies made of sesame seeds and jaggery – there is a lot to share and eat together!

  5. Make your prayers
  6. At the heart of every festival is an earnest prayer. Take the occasion of Makar Sankranti to express your gratitude for all the good things in your life. Seek blessings and carry the hope in your heart that the coming year will bring good fortune and health to all.

  7. Spread the warmth and fly a kite
  8. At the end of it, Makar Sankranti is all about getting together with your loved ones and spreading the glow of warmth and joy you feel in your heart. Take some time out to connect with your community and deepen the bond you share. And of course, do not forget to fly your kites!

Importance of Makar Sankranti

An integral part of the Indian cultural fabric, Makar Sankranti’s significance surpasses the exchange of sweetmeats and circling around bonfires. In fact, the significance of Makar Sankranti lies in its spiritual aspect and what the festival as a whole symbolises. Let us decode the importance of Makar Sankranti together:

  • As we already told you, one of the reasons why Makar Sankranti is celebrated is to observe the sun’s journey towards the north. Because the start of this journey marks the very end of the cold unforgiving winter and the beginning of the bountiful and lively spring. Call it an ode to the beginning of new life.
  • Aside from revering the sun and its journey, Makar Sankranti also places immense importance on the incoming harvest season. In fact, it is a harvest festival. This is the time when the harvesting of rabi crops commences, so it is no surprise that farmers celebrate nature and spring during this time.
  • And you know what spring signifies right? It is all about that new beginning. Which is another aspect of Makar Sankranti. Ushering in a new beginning, a fresh start, calls for a celebration. One which everyone can enjoy together.
  • But it is just not about new beginnings in terms of change of season. Or the phase of the sun. Or a period of time. Makar Sankranti goes beyond these constructs to signify a spiritual renewal. The time preceding Makar Sankranti is spent in reflection and introspection. While the day is spent expressing gratitude, and seeking forgiveness and blessings. So there is a spirituality to it.
  • Also, as you must have gathered by now, the festival of Makar Sankranti places immense importance on community building. It is a day to come closer together as a community, partaking in a shared experience of joy, song and dance in the backdrop of a soul-warming bonfire.
  • Lastly, it is an enduring tradition. One that has been continuing for centuries in India. Unceasingly so! Festivals that stand the test of time tether us to our rich history, thus further strengthening our roots and giving us the chance to participate in customs and rituals that our ancestors from thousands of years ago may have taken part in too! If you think about it, that is really fascinating and feel-good at the same time!

A little extra Makar Sankranti bonus for you!

Now that you know the significance of Makar Sankranti, we thought we would send you off with a little Makar Sankranti trivia! Just a little something to keep your interest alive in this beautiful festival.

Ready? Here goes!
You see Makar Sankranti is not just a festival of the north. It is kind of celebrated throughout the country. Confused? Well, do not be because it is not called Makar Sankranti. In fact, you may have heard of it by many of its other names. Such as Lohri. Or Pongal. Or Bihu. Or Suggi Habba. Or Peda Panduga. Or Poush Sankranti. You see, almost every corner of India celebrates Makar Sankranti in their own way!

So that is all about Makar Sankranti you need to know! At EuroKids, we strive to educate our preschool kids about the many fascinating festivals of India, thus fostering in them a sense of community, curiosity and tolerance. If you want to know more about us, our schools and the syllabus we follow, be sure to visit any of our branches!