Rebati Mohan Sinha
Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious occasion, the Hindus celebrate in almost all over the country with great zeal and enthusiasm. It is known as a harvest festival. Generally, Makar Sankranati always falls on January 14 every year. In Punjab, it is known as Lohri, the festival of bonfire; in Tamil Nadu it is time for three day Pongal celebration; in Gujarat it is known as Uttarayan and it is synonymous with kite flying while in Maharashtra and a part of Karnataka it is known as Sankranti where there is a custom of exchanging tilgul ladoos, and greeting with the words “tilgul gaya ani god god bola”, the meaning “speak sweetly just as this sweet”. In Assam, it is known as Bhogali Bihu. Assamese celebrate the festival with great devotion, fervour and gaiety. We, the Bishnupriya Manipuri celebrate as Tila-Sankranti with Tilua (sugar candy) and home-made Utong chak, made with bironor choul, prepared in a bamboo piece of thin wall thickness.
The festival marks the northward journey (uttarayan) of Sun, in other words the Sun enters the sign of Makar or Capricorn from tropic of Cancer i.e., Makar Sankranti is the day when the glorious Sun God begins its ascending and entry in to the northern hemisphere and thus it signifies an event where in, the Sun God seems to remind his children, may you go higher and higher, have more and more light, never to darkness.
To Hindus, the Sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makar Sankranti signifies, we should turn away from darkness of delusion in which we live and begin to enjoy a new life with bright light within us to shine brighter and brighter. We should gradually begin to grow in purity, wisdom and knowledge, even as the Sun God does from the day of Makar Sankranti.
In the epic of Mahabharata, Bhishma Pitamaha even after being wounded, lingered on till Uttarayan to set in, so that he attain Moksha.