Makara Sankranti also known as Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path, which is the first change in the zodiac after the winter solstice. The festival is celebrated in various parts of the Indian subcontinent to observe the day which marks the shift of the sun into ever-lengthening days.
The festival is a seasonal observance as well as a religious celebration. Makara Sankranti is a solar event making it one of the few Hindu festivals which fall on the same date in local calendars every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January.
Date and significance:
Makara Sankranti is observed at the beginning of the Capricorn period under the sidereal zodiac, either 14 or 15 January, and signifies the arrival of warmer days. The festival is also dedicated to the sun god and marks the six months auspicious period for Hindus known as Uttaarayan.
The importance of Uttaarayan is exhibited in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, where Bhishma Pitamah waited for the sun to be in Uttaarayan for him to die willingly.
Makara Sankranti is believed to be a time for peace and prosperity. The day is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery. The bathing is believed to wash away sins.