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Transit or Sankramana of Sun into Makara raashi (Capricorn) of the zodiac is called MAKARA SANKRANTHI or MAKARA SANKRAMANA.
Every month transit of Sun takes place but, only when he transits into Makara raasi it is considered as highly sacred, celestial and celebrated as a festival.
This is due to the importance attached to the coincidence of transit of Sun into Makara Rashi and His travel towards Uttaraayana around which time Sun will be directly over the tropic of Capricorn.
Basically, Makara Sankranthi is a Sun centric festival celebrated throughout the country irrespective of caste and creed. It is a festival of peace, prosperity, harmony, happiness, and a festival indicating change for the good and betterment.
Let us have a look at some of the related terminologies with respect to this Sun centric festival and try to understand what they indicate…
SIGNIFICANCE OF MAKARA:
Makara is a Sanskrit word that generally means a Crocodile. Makara is also referred to a sign in the zodiac known as Capricorn. It is said to be the most sacred sign among the 12 raasis. It is the 10th sign in the zodiac.
Sravana Nakshathra the star of Lord Vishnu falls in this sign (Makara) only. It is said that Lord Brahma had darshan of Lord Vishnu for the first time at the beginning of creation in the constellation of Sravana Nakshathra.
In Vishnu related temples we generally observe an arch like structure is erected or built known as Makara Thoranam.
ध्येयस्साद सविथ्रुमन्दल मध्यवर्थि | नारायण सरसिजासन संनिविष्टः |
खेयूरवान् मकरकुन्दलवान किरीटी | हरी हिरण्मय वपुःध्रुत संख चक्रः ||
Dhyeyassada Savithrumandala madhyavarthi |Narayana Sarasijasana Sannivishtah |
Keyuuravaan Makarakundalavaan Kireeti|Hari Hiranmaya Vapuhdhruta Sankha Chakrah ||
Meaning: He (Lord Vishnu), as the Primordial person giving darshan from the center of Surya (Savithru) Mandala (Sun’s Globe), seated on a lotus, with golden bracelets, wearing a crown, shark shaped earrings (Makara Kundala); golden in complexion, holding Shankha and Chakra in his hands.
This sloka describes how to pray (anusandhana) Lord Vishnu in the form of Surya Narayana. While worshiping Sun God/Gayathri Japa, one should always meditate on this form of Lord Sri ManNaaraayana who alone is the cause of Sun’s shining and the source of Sun’s rays.
Importance of Makara can also be envisaged from the above sloka that we usually recite during Sandhyavandana.
Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stothram (sloka # 94) describes Lord Vishnu as
“रविर्विरोचनः सूर्यः सविता रविलोचन ”
“Ravirvirochanah Suryah Savitaa RaviLochana”
The One who is the Sun Himself,
The One who glitters always and makes the Sun shine (He is light that illumines Sun),
The one who creates the worlds, and
The one who has Sun for his eyes; Chaksho! Suryo Ajayatha (Purusha Sooktha).
Sun is also expressed as Savitha (Savithre Namah) that we come across in Gayathri Manthra.
Savitha one of the several thousand names of Lord Vishnu also means the most sacred among all the elements of sanctity. He is Savithrunaamaka Surya Naaraayana.
Sun promotes in human beings their physical, mental and spiritual abilities. Sun grants individuality and will power. He is the destroyer of darkness, sins and afflictions.
BHOGI: The word Bhogi is derived from the Sanskrit word Bhog meaning enjoying or experiencing. It is a festival that signifies the beginning of the harvest season for farmers in India. Hence, it is also known as harvest festival. Bhogi is considered as the day that facilitates the farmers to enjoy the fruits of their hard work.
On the day of Bhogi, old, worn out and useless items are burnt in a bonfire. Bhogi signifies cleansing of the mind of its ill thoughts and feelings, while symbolically burning them up, with a firm resolve to tread the path of love, with truth and purity from this holy day onwards.
It is the last day of Dhanurmasam and also Dakshinaayana. Bhogi marks the beginning of three day Makara Sankranthi festival.
SANKRANTHI: It is a confluence of two words SAN + KRANTHI. SAN means plenty, good and come together. Kranthi means radical change. Sankranthi means plenty of good change. SANKRAMANA means to begin to move.
A solar month in Hindu calendar refers to the time required by the Sun to pass through one zodiac sign that consists of 30 sittings and 30 settings of the Sun.
There are 12 zodiac signs starting from Mesha (Aries) to Meena (Pisces) and Sun moves one degree in a day of 24 hours and one zodiac (house) in a month as we observe from the earth.
The time when Sun leaves one sign and enters another sign is known as Sankranthi or Sankramana or astrologically it is called transit. The sign in which travel of Sun commences is the name given to that Sankranthi.
There are 12 Sankranthis’ (Sun’s transit) in a year starting from Mesha Sankranthi to Meena Sankranthi and the travel of Sun into Makara Raasi is known as Makara Sankranthi. It is holier than all the other Sankranthis’ that occur in the Hindu calendar year.
Transit of Sun (Solar Transit) is generally not considered auspicious as there will be certain disturbances in the organization of solar forces and such times are generally not recommended for commencement of any good work.
On the contrary they are held to be auspicious for meditation, initiation into secret mantras and performance of certain religious rites which are held to purify both the body as well as the soul.
श्री विष्णुं जगतां नादं | ज्ञान -विज्ञान -मोक्षधं |
महापापहरं देवं | तं सूर्यं प्रनमाम्यहम् ||
Sree Vishnum jagataam naadam| Jnaana-vijnaana-mokshadham |
Mahapaapaharam devam |Tam Suryam pranamaamyaham||
On the day of Makara Sankranthi (Makara Sankramana) one should pray
Lord Vishnu the Supreme God of the Universe,the giver of wisdom and knowledge,
the one who destroys the sins, the one whose prerogative is giving Moksha; In the form of Surya Narayana for health, peace, prosperity, and happiness of the humanity and for the divine knowledge (Gnaana+Bhakti+Vairagya).
Sun is considered as the giver of Health (Arogyam Bhaskaraddichhett) and Lord Sri ManNaaraayana as the giver (one and the only) of Moksha (Moksham Naaraayanaaddhichhett).
Makara Sankranthi is basically a festival to promote love and harmony in the family and to instill their duty towards the Divinity.
Message of Makara Sankranthi festival is; let actions and thoughts be good to experience the Divine Bliss.
It is a festival of transformation (Change) for the betterment.
Happy Makara Sankranthi to all my readers.