Wednesday, January 16, 2013


DURING HINDU FESTIVALS - Hindu Festivals are an exuberant celebration of peace and harmony, and Makar Sankranti (Thai Pongal) is no exception. It is an amalgamation of spirituality and science with great pageantry. Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. According to science, the winter solstice comes to an end where the transition of sun from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer or from Dakshinayana to Uttarayana commemorates the beginning of the harvest season. 
Makar Sankranti identifies a period of enlightenment, peace, prosperity and happiness followed by a period of darkness, ignorance and viciousness with immense sorrow. The significance of sugarcane is also marked by a fact that life is a mixture of both good and bad, agony and ecstasy, bitter and sweet so on, which epitomizes that life is an assortment of balances and the great balancing act is what makes an individual attain self-actualisation.

Makar Sankranti or Pongal in Tamil Nadu is celebrated in myriad ways. Since Sankranti marks the harvest season, the crops and grains that are grown signify prosperity and happiness. Sugarcane is usually distributed on this day along with sweets made of Til (sesame seeds), jaggery and groundnut. Til is said to be a nourishing agent for the body, while jaggery which is rich in minerals helps in digestion. Sugarcane has many medical properties which is known to prevent cancer and strengthen the stomach, kidneys, liver and the reproductive organs. 
Sugarcane is considered spiritual on harvest festival at any part of India. You can find sugarcane in Tamil Nadu (Pongal), Northern states (Sankranti), Punjab (Lodhi) to name a few. Sugarcane being the most important harvest of the season signifies prosperity and well being. Besides, due to the spiritual significance of sugarcane, Makar Sankranti and Pongal decorations and celebrations are incomplete without sticks of sugarcane.

Apart from these various aspects of the significance of sugarcane, the author of the article explains that on the spiritual side, sugarcane is seen in the hands of Goddess Lalitha Tripura Sundari, who holds a goad, a noose, an arrow of flowers, a sugarcane and a bow, which represents the mind and the five sense objects, that controls the kama - lust, krodha - anger, lobh - greed, moha - emotional attachment, mada or ahankara - pride, matsarya - envy, jealousy. The sugarcane which is firm and straight symbolises a stern and a balanced mind that is controlling the five senses and fostering positive thought in one's being. In the Vedic/Hindu tradition, there are many festivals that are observed throughout the year, and Makara Sankranti is one of the most important Indian harvest festival.

Makara Sankranti: Hindus consider the sun king of the planets. Makara Sankranti is the celebration of the sun's journey to the Northern Hemisphere. Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition. So you could say there is one sankranti every month when the sun moves from one sign of the zodiac to the next. However, the most important ones are the Mesh (Aries) Sankranti and the Makar (Capricorn) Sankranti. So the transition of the sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is known as Makar Sankranti. This is when the sun moves from the Da-kshinayana (southern) route to the Uttarayana (northern) route. The Uttarayana route begins on January 14 and lasts till July 14. This time is accepted as a special or auspicious time. It is believed that those who die in this period attain moksha or liberation from samsara, the cycle of birth and death.

Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
"Hindu Festivals"  -

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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