One of the splendidly celebrated festivals in india, Makar Sankranti is an Indian festival that marks the end of winter solstice and transition of the sun from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. People celebrate Sun's transit from Dhanu rashi to the Makara rashi (zodiac sign Capricorn), by paying their respects to the Sun God and offering prayers for a good harvest season. Though with contrasting names and festivities in different regions, India will come together to celebrate this auspicious festival.

Image Source: IANS

Makar Sankranti 2023 is on January 15, Sunday

18 days to go for the event

Makar Sankranti 2023 Punya Kaal Muhurat: January 15, 7:14 AM - 12:36 PM (Duration: 5 hours 32 minutes)
Maha Punya Kaal Muhurat: January 15, 7:14 AM - 9:02 AM (Duration: 1 hours 48 minutes)
Sankranti Moment: January 14, 8:49 PM

Read on to understand the importance of this festival and to know the exact tithi, muhurat, panchang, choghadiya, and much more related to Makar Sankranti.

When is Makar Sankranti celebrated? Astronomy behind Makar Sankranti

In 2023, even though the sankranti moment or sankranti muhurat is at 8:49 PM on January 14, Makar Sankranti will be celebrated on January 15. So why is Makar Sankranti celebrated on the 15th of January, though the Sankranti Moment for 2023 falls on the 14th of January?

Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu calendar (lunar) month of Magh. However, unlike other Hindu festival dates which vary every year, Makar sankranti falls on the 14th or 15th of January every year. This is because the festival is based on the Solar Calendar, not the Luni-Solar Calendar (Hindu Calendar). Since Sankranti is a solar event, the festival will generally occur on the same day, 14th of January, every year. However, sometimes the Sun enters Makara Rashi (Zodiac/Constellation) after sunset in India on the 14th, and so the festival is celebrated on the 15th of January in those years to mark the entry of the Sun into the sign of Capricorn (Makara). This also marks the inception of the holy phase of Uttarayana which is considered the best time for attaining 'mukti'.

What is Punya Kaal?

When the Sun transits from one rashi (zodiac) to another, for a brief period, the it appears to be in both Rashis. This period is called Punya kaal, a time which is considered very auspicious since everyone can reap the benefits of both rashis, and the activities such as taking a bath, Surya puja, daan (donations and charities) etc. must be done during this time. According to 'Muhurt Chintamani', the Punya kaal of Makar Sankranti is calculated as 16 Ghatis, (about 6 Hours and 24 Minutes) from the Sankranti Moment, or the time from the next Sunrise in the event where the Sankranti Moment happens after the Sunset. Makar sankranti punya kaal is considered the most auspicious as it also marks the beginning of Uttarayana (summer solstice).

One legend from the Epic of Mahabharata tells us the story of Bhishma waiting for Uttarayan to breathe his last. Bhishma, was fatally wounded in the war of Mahabharata with arrows piercing his entire body. He waited for Fifty-One nights on this bed of arrows, before succumbing. He waited for the auspicious day of Uttarayan to set in before breathing his last so that he can attain Mukti from this cycle of rebirth.

Makar Sankranti Images Image Source: IANS

People and Cattle run over fire during Makar Sankranti celebrations

Rituals of Makar Sankranti

Different rituals are practiced in different states of India. Some of the key rituals of Makar Sankranti festival and its celebration are given below.

In Uttar Pradesh, ritual holy bath is taken by people in the Ganges. The famous 'Magh Mela' starts on this day at the Prayag in Allahabad.

In Punjab, the local people lit bonfires on the eve of Sankranti and perform puja around the sacred fire by throwing rice and sweets into it. This is followed by grand feasts and their native 'bhangra' dance around the fire.

In Gujarat, kite flying is of prime importance on that day. Other holy rituals like giving gifts to younger members of the family are a common practice during Makar Sankranti.

In Maharashtra, Sankranti is marked by the making and exchange of various kinds of sweets made of jaggery and sesame seeds. People greet each other and the married women of the house buy utensils. These are also exchanged as gifts which are known as 'Haldi Kumkum' which is an age old tradition followed in this region.

Image Source: IANS

In Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti is associated with the festival of Pongal

In Tamil Nadu and other parts of southern India, this day marks the worship of the harvest God. Local people harvest their paddy on this day and sweets made up of rice, pulses and milk cooked in ghee is offered to the family deity. This festival known as Pongal is the biggest festival celebrated by South Indians.

In Bengal, the famous Ganga sagar mela starts on this day. This is located in the delta regions of the Ganga where the river merges with the Bay of Bengal. People take holy dips in the river on this day offering early morning pujas to the Sun God at dawn.

Among the tribals of Orissa, Makar Sankranti signifies the New Year which is welcomed by cooking local food and sharing it among friends and families.

Makar sankranti kite flying Image Source: Ravi Shankar Vyas/IANS

People fly kites on the eve of Makar Sankranti

Based on the panchang Karana of the Sankranti 2023 is Balava. According to Muhurta Chintamani, this year's Sankranti will have the following characteristics:
Vahana/Vehicle: Tiger(Vyaghra)
Color of the Cloth: Yellow(Peela)
Weapon in Hand: Mace(Gada)
Consuming Food: Sweet Rice Pudding(Kheer)
Poultice on Body: Kumkum(Red Turmeric Powder, not Vermilion)
Caste: Ghost(Bhoot)
Flower in Hand: Jasmine(Chameli)

Important Timings On Makar Sankranti

SunriseJanuary 15, 2023 7:14 AM
SunsetJanuary 15, 2023 5:57 PM
Punya Kaal Muhurta January 15, 7:14 AM - January 15, 12:36 PM
Maha Punya Kaal Muhurta January 15, 7:14 AM - January 15, 9:02 AM
Sankranti MomentJanuary 14, 2023 8:49 PM
Place : Ujjain [ India ] See More

Makar Sankranti festival dates between 2019 & 2029

2019Tuesday, 15th of January
2020Wednesday, 15th of January
2021Thursday, 14th of January
2022Friday, 14th of January
2023Sunday, 15th of January
2024Monday, 15th of January
2025Tuesday, 14th of January
2026Wednesday, 14th of January
2027Friday, 15th of January
2028Saturday, 15th of January
2029Sunday, 14th of January

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